In 1969, rumors circulated that Paul McCartney, of Beatles fame, had died in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike. There were "clues" to Paul's supposed demise on Beatles albums.
The story goes like this: Paul McCartney was killed in an auto accident at 5:00am on Wednesday, November 9, 1966. He allegedlyÂ picked up a female hitch hiker, named Rita,Â on his way to a friend's house. The girl became so excited when she realized who was driving the car that she grabbed the steering wheel, causing the accident. Both Paul, and his rider, were killed.
In fear of lost record revenues, the Beatles' record company suppressed the story and replaced Paul with a guy who won a McCartney look-alike contest. The surviving Beatles went along with the scheme, but decided to put clues to Paul's death in their music and in there album artwork.
Reporters from LIFE magazine tracked down Paul at his farm in Scotland. McCartney gave the reporters an interview and LIFE made the resulting interview it's cover story for the November 7, 1969 issue.
As a lad of 16 in 1969, I followed the clues with wide-eyed curiosity. I already owned copies of every Beatles albums released in this country, plus a couple that were released in England. I would like to share with you the clues that led us to believe that Paul was dead.
In 1969, Detroit DJ Russell Gibb, of station WKNR-FM, received a call from someone who would only identify himself as "Tom". Tom told Russell Gibb that if you played the beginning of "Revolution 9" backwards, which was on "The Beatles" album (also known as the White album), a voice says "turn me on, dead man." Tom also told Gibb that if you listen closely to the end of "Strawberry Fields" you would hear a voice say "I buried Paul." After playing these clues on the air, the rumors began to spread like wildfire.
Now, let's get to the fun part; the clues:
Near the top of this album cover we see Paul screaming. Also, his is the only head turned completely sideways, indicating he no longer conforms with the Beatles.
In the song "Taxman", the background voices say "Paul" after George sings the lines "if you drive a car" and "if you get too cold". It sounds like this: "if you drive a car PAAAAUUUL" and "if you get too cold PAAAAUUUL."
SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
The Beatles album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was filled with clues. First off, clue mongers interpreted the cover picture to be a depiction of Paul's burial. The wax images of the Beatles, when they were younger, have mournful expressions as they gaze down at Paul's grave.
Notice that all the Beatles, with the exception of Paul, are standing at an angle, as though they are supporting Paul. All of the Beatles are holding instruments, but Paul is the only one holding a black one.
There is a hand over Paul's head. Is he, perhaps, being blessed by a priest?
There is a bass guitar across the "grave site". It is positioned as though it were to be played by someone left-handed. Paul, is left-handed. Also, rather than bearing four strings, like a normal bass guitar, there are only three strings, representing the three remaining Beatles. The yellow hyacinths form the letter "P".
My favorite clue on the album is the drum. If you hold a mirror across the middle of the words "Lonely Hearts" on the front of the drum, you will see the letters ""IONEIX HE<>DIE".Â These letters represent "I ONE IX HE <> DIE" or 11 9 (November 9, the date he died). Also, the diamond between "HE" and "DIE" points directly at Paul. It has been suggested that youÂ can also read it as "1 ONE 1 X" indicating three Beatles andÂ one missing with the arrow pointing to Paul.
There is a Shirley Temple doll at the right side of the picture. The sweater she is wearing reads "WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES". Rumors at the time had the Stones involved with the conspiracy. Laying against the dolls right leg is an Aston-Martin, supposedly the model of car that McCartney was driving when he met his demise in the car accident. The Shirley Temple doll is resting on a grandmother type figure. The grandmother is wearing a blood stained driving glove.
There is a four-armed figurine at the bottom-front center of the album cover. This figurine is Shiva, the Indian symbol of destruction and creation. The figurine has two arms raised, one pointing at the wax figurine of Paul, the other pointing at Paul.
On the ground, to the right of the Beatles, sits a television. The TV is turned off, indicating the news of Paul's death had been suppressed.
The picture above is the picture you see when you open the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Notice, on Paul's left shoulder, there is a patch with the letters "O.P.D." The letters stand for "Officially Pronounced Dead". It is the British equivalent of "Dead On Arrival" in the United States. In all fairness, the patch probably reads "O.P.P." which stands for Ontario Provincial Police. In the LIFE magazine interview, McCartney says he bought that patch in Canada.
Above is the back cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The lyrics to all the songs on the album were printed on the back. One of the Beatles, Paul, is facing backwards in the picture, symbolizing his death.
John, Paul and George were actually close to the same height. In the picture, Paul appears taller, representing he is ascending.
Although it is hard to detect in this picture, the words "without you" are just to the right of Paul's head. Also, George is pointing to the line "Wednesday morning at five o'clock," the day and time that Paul died.
There are also many clues to Paul's death in the song lyrics on this album. The first song on the album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", introduces "the one and only Billy Shears". Supposedly, in 1965, their was a Paul McCartney look alike contest held in which a gentleman named William Campbell won. The Beatles began grooming him as the new Paul shortly after McCartney's purported death.
When "Sgt. Pepper's" was released, the Beatles changed William Campbell's name to Billy Shears so people wouldn't know that the person who won the look-alike contest had replaced Paul. Also, at the time of the album's release, Campbell hadn't quite mastered McCartney's voice or mannerisms, which is alluded to in the song "With A Little Help From MY Friends", whereÂ the lyrics say "Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key."
The song "Lovely Rita" refers to the girl Paul picked up the tragic morning of his accident. In the lyrics we hear "I took her home, nearly made it."
The song "Good Morning, Good Morning" starts with "Nothing to do to save his life call his wife in", then moves on to "You're on your own, you're in the street" and "People running 'round, It's five o'clock." Five o'clock is when the accident occurred.
In "A Day In The Life", John Lennon sings "He blew his mind out in a carÂ He hadn't noticed the the lights had changed, A crowd of people stood and stared, They'd seen his face before......."
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
"Magical Mystery Tour" was released with a 24-page booklet which included lyrics and photos. There are several clues associated with this album.
You can read a phone number in the word "BEATLES", that is spelled out in stars,Â if you hold the album upside down. The number could be 2317438 or 5371438. Some people have said that when they dialed the first number, they heard a recording that said "You're getting closer."
This photo is from page three of the booklet that came with the album. Paul is sitting at a desk. Notice the nameplate say "I WAS".
There are two British that are crossed behind Paul. The British cross flags at military funerals.
Page 9 shows a cartoon image of Paul next to "Fool On The Hill." The second "L" in "Hill" is dragged out over Paul's head giving the appearance of a split open head, similar to the injuries Paul sustained in his fatal accident.
In this photo from page 23, all the Beatles are wearing carnations. Paul's is the only one that is black, the other three Beatles have red carnations.
This photo is from the last page of the booklet. As on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, there is a hand above Paul's head.
At the end of the song "Strawberry Fields" you can hear John say "I buried Paul."
At the end of "I Am The Walrus" you will hear voices saying "bury me...bury my body" and "Paul, you're darn near death...rest you."
In the song "Hello/Goodbye", the line "you say goodbye/I say hello" is supposedly William Campbell speaking to Paul.
At the end of "All You Need Is Love" John sings "we loved you yeah yeah yeah."
On the cover of the album, Paul has a hand hovering above his head. This is the Eastern blessing for the dead. The Yellow Submarine appears to be under gound, beneath the Beatles. Could this be his coffin?
In the lyrics of "Only A Northern Song" you can hear "..when you're listening late at night you may think the band is not quite right.." "..you may think the band's a little dark and out of key, you're correct, there's nobody there."
THE BEATLES (THE WHITE ALBUM)
John Lennon did a lot of backmasking (adding backward voices and music) on this album. "Revolution #9, when played backwards, you hear a voice saying "Turn me on dead man" over and over. On the "I'm So Tired" track, when played backwards, you can hear ""Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him".
In the lyrics of "Glass Onion" John says "Well, here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul". A glass onion is a coffin with a glass, see-through top. Supposedly, in some cultures, the walrus is a sign of death.
In Revolution #9, you hear "his voice was low and his eyes were high and his eyes were closed", "Paul died", "my fingers are broken and so is my hair. I'm not in the mood for wearing clothing", "maybe even dead". You can also hear on a car crashing and catching on fire. "Paul" can be heard screaming "Get me out."
The front cover of Abbey Road show the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, symbolic of a funeral procession:
John is dressed as a preacher, Ringo as aÂ undertaker, Paul the corpse and George is the grave digger.
Paul's eyes are closed, similar to a dead man's eyes. Paul is out of step with the other Beatles. He leads with his right foot, the others with their left. This is a symbol of non-conformity with the living (because he is dead). Paul has a cigarette in his right hand, Paul was left-handed. (Cigarettes are known as "Coffin Nails"). Paul is walking bare foot, In many countries, including England, bodies are buried shoeless.
The picture below is from the front cover of Abbey Road. It shows a VW Beetle with license plate "28 IF." Paul would have been 28 when Abbey Road was released, if he had lived.
The back cover of Abbey Road:
There is a crack through the letter"S", this symbolizes a break in the band, Paul's death. Notice the five circles dierectly to the left of the words "The Beatles." Four of the circles are in the light because they represent people who are alive; John, George, Ringo, and William Campbell (Paul's replacement). The fifth circle is in the shade because it represents Paul, who is dead.
In the lyrics of the song "Come Together", John sings "one and one and one make three."
LET IT BE
Paul's is the only one not photographed in profile and with a white background. Paul's background is blood red.
I had a wonderful time researching and writing this article. Most of the clues were ones I'd learned about while growing up with the Beatles. I have references at the end of this article for the others. By no means do I pretend to profess that these are all of the "Paul is dead" clues. These are simply some of my favorites.
You may ask why the Beatles would go to such extremes to portray Paul as no longer being amongst the living. Well, this well thought out advertising gimmick sold millions of albums. In that sense, it was truly brilliant.
I, for one, know Paul is still alive. I saw him, from the 17th row, in concert a couple of years ago. Here are a few shots I took of him:
Best concert I've ever been to.
ABOUT THE BEATLES - PAUL IS DEAD CLUES, Avail: http://www.aboutthebeatles.com/paulisdeadclues.php
Beatles Conspiracy: Did They Cover Up Paul's 1966 Death?, truTV.com, Avail: