Paul is dead

When The Beatles released what I think is their best album called “Abbey Road,” quite a stir was raised. It was in 1969, well before Social Media and just before the mechanics of the Internet were invented. A rumor was started that Paul McCartney was dead and it went global as a story.

The rumor was based off a story in 1969, that Paul had died in a car crash three years earlier and was replaced. There were several clues, but a key piece of evidence was on the cover of the Abbey Road album where the four band members were pictured walking across the street in front of their studio of the same name.

John Lennon walked first dressed in all white like a spiritual being. Ringo Starr came next dressed in black as a minister or funeral director might. George Harrison was last dressed in jeans and a blue work shirt, as if he portrayed grave digger,

Paul was third and was dressed in a suit with no tie and no shoes. He was also walking out of step with the other three. Other signs were used as evidence from earlier songs and albums. Was this to promote record sales or was it one of the many crazy stories that followed The Beatles?

Two final comments. If this story came out today with Social Media, it would go viral beyond belief. It would likely fragment into many permutations which would also go viral. I am reminded of the story about Bob Hope’s passing which led Congress to have a moment of silence for him to commemorate his life. Yet, no one checked into the fact that he was not dead at that time.

Lastly, I am among many tourists who travelled to the site of the famous album cover picture. Like many before, I quickly walked on the street for a photo shot. The dilemma is Abbey Road is a busy street and the tour guide forwarned us. We just might have ended up dead like Paul needing the three others to bury us. By the way, Paul is still not dead.


45 thoughts on “Paul is dead

  1. No, luckily Paul is not dead, but after seeing your heading I checked the news immediately. I have visited Abbey Road too and would like to go to Liverpool as well, I’m a big Beatles fan!

      • Great songs all. Back in the USSR off the White Album seems to be a reflection of their earlier rock and roll days. I did a post on Blackbird when I found out it was a tribute to Martin Luther King (it is listed as one of the three suggested posts at the bottom). It is ironic that a couple of their huge hits were sung by George – Here Comes the Sun and Something. Thanks for sharing your favorites.

    • That was mentioned in the article. I was eleven in 1969, so it was tied to Abbey Road. My brother is an even bigger fan and has the picture over his TV in his man cave.

      • I was born in 1969 in Amsterdam, shortly after John & Yoko had their Bed-in in the Amsterdam Hilton. I was legendary. Later when John died, I remember my history teacher crying in class.

      • Elizabeth, what a great place to be born. Did you grow up there? My brother mourned as well going to one of the many candlelight vigils. He named his son Sean after Lennon’s son. Keith

      • Yes, I have lived in Amsterdam all my life. And I saw Sean Lennon perform there once! I’ve been to a Paul McCartney concert as well. Thanks, Keith!

      • Sorry, I’m confusing Sean with Julian, we saw Julian perform live, it was good. Paul is a real artist, isn’t he? He makes up songs on the spot and even without band or instrument he’s great.

      • He is indeed. I read Hey Jude was originally called Hey Jules as it was advice being given to John’s son Julian. Lennon apparently told McCartney to leave in a line that the latter thought was cheesy, but Lennon said it was the best line in the song – “the movement you need is on your shoulder.” Love this dialogue. Thanks, Keith

      • Me too! Yes, I read about Hey Jude being Hey Jules originally. My sister’s eldest son is called Jules, no coincidence there;-) It is a fantastic song, the words are beautiful and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has felt that Hey Jude was a great comfort in times of trouble. The list of great Beatles songs seems to be endless when I think of it; how about A Day in the Life, Norwegian Wood, Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, Let it Be, Paperback Writer..
        I’m very glad I took the opportunity to see Paul live, and luckily he played many Beatles songs, including Blackbird. It must have been in the eighties that my sister and I went to the Julian Lennon concert, he was very young, and quite shy, I remember that someone in the audience shouted “Don’t be shy, Julian!”.

      • All great songs. Interesting that Julian’s shyness was noticeable. I remember Jim Morrison was so shy, he sang with his back to the audience. Hey Jude does provide comfort doesn’t it?

      • I didn’t know that about Jim Morrison, interesting.
        Yes, I just can’t imagine life without the Beatles! Thanks for starting this conversation.

    • Janis, I was eleven, but my brother was even more into them watching Ed Sullivan and doing the same hair pulling debates. He and his best friend would argue over the most important Beatle, with my brother leaning to John Lennon with his friend to Paul. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    You are so right, Social media would have been abuzz with speculation.

    According to an April 2004 article by Bruce Spitzer, “Paul McCartney confirmed that the “Paul is dead” clues found in several Beatles album covers and songs were deliberately planted by the group as part of an elaborate scheme dating back to the summer of 1966.”

    “Paul explained, “When I told (Brian Epstein) our future albums would be dominated by songs about interesting people and places, his heart sank. He didn’t think people would buy such albums and came up with this great idea to push sales in the event he was right and we were wrong. The idea was that we would plant clues in our songs and album covers that one of us had died in a car wreck. If after a few albums, our records weren’t selling well, we’d leak out word about the clues and let our fans and the press take over. People would buy the albums to see and hear the clues. We thought, ‘Wow, that’s an incredible idea!’ We realized it would be great fun to have all those clues sitting there undiscovered until people started going nuts looking for them all.”

    “Tony Barrow also thought the plan was brilliant. “Nothing re-energizes a singer’s career like his death. Do you really think Buddy Holly would have been so famous had he not died in that plane crash?” And the rest is history…

    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, I was not aware the marketing was so detailed, thinking it could be just the one album. It is a brilliant piece of subterfuge, although it seems to run counter to Lennon and Harrison’s groundings. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I mentioned to Jill the conclusion of Abbey Road is a terrific ending, as it is a compilation of small vignette songs – Golden Slumbers, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Carry that Weight, etc. While including some guitar solos, it is my understanding it is the only studio recorded drum solo of Ringo Starr. I wrote in my response to her the concluding line, which is often remembered – the love you take is equal to the love you make.

  4. Thank God, he isn’t but I remember that in one of their songs John Lennon said this. I don’t know where I have this from and I am not sure if that record has to be played in the opposite direction in order that it can be heard.

  5. Have been in transit and still am, but wanted to send a thumbs up === it’s always great to roll back in time, as our souls have no age, and if we can ignore our physical reminders, we’re still the age we were when we enjoyed the music of that era! The triva in Gronda’s comment was interesting!

    • Lisa, I adore your phrase “our souls have no age.” Certain songs are mile markers of our lives. The Bee Gees’ songs remind me of high school while Boston and Styx reminds me of college. The Beatles, Billy Joel, Bob Seger and Eagles were there throughout, but I remember the Ed Sullivan performances of The Beatles as my brother was so excited. I agree with you on Gronda’s comments. Keith

      • Witnessing the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, I can see how the challenges have affected many. They might disagree and say that their souls aged a lot in the past year, but slowly they will reconnect to that original source/our God, and find a youthful spirit once again.

        Yes, music has the gift of wiping away years, as can certain aromas – zoom, you’re back at Grandmother’s kitchen!

      • Lisa, an appropriate caveat. Well said. About those aromas, we tried to replicate my mother’s broccoli casserole and it was close, but not hers. Take care amiga, Keith

      • my oldest sister would chuckle if she should read this! like you – we attept to replicate certain foods and get close but there is always something lacking.. perhaps it was a special love that only that one person could provide?

  6. Note to Readers: One of the best song’s on Abbey Road is the plaintiff “Oh Darling” sung by Paul. As I understand it, he sang it a couple of dozen times to get his voice to a hoarser plea for his girlfriend not to leave, prior to recording.

  7. Note to Readers: I made reference in a comment about Bob Hope being memorialized by Congress when he had not died. I could have made reference to the actor Abe Vigoda who played Detective Fish on the TV show Barney Miller and had an ill-fated role in “The Godfather.” His death was erroneously reported several times before his eventual demise. It became a standing joke for Vigoda and his fans. What is the old line, “The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.