Paul Is Dead


The “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory is an urban legend that suggests Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. The rumour was first circulated in 1966 but gained more popularity in September 1969 after reports on American college campuses. According to the theory, the surviving Beatles, with the help of Britain’s MI5, replaced McCartney with a look-alike to spare the public from grief. They communicated this secret by using subtle details of their albums and songs. Fans found clues among elements of Beatles songs and cover artwork, and by October 1969, it had become an international phenomenon. The rumours declined after Life published an interview with McCartney in November 1969.

The phenomenon was analyzed in the fields of sociology, psychology, and communications during the 1970s. Paul McCartney even parodied the hoax with the title and cover art of his 1993 live album, “Paul Is Live”. The legend was among the ten “most enduring conspiracy theories in the world“, according to Time in 2009.