At the age of 72 Paul McCartney, former member of the legendary band “The Beatles”, it still at it, touring world wide while earning scores of accolades and millions of dollars. But is the so called “Paul McCartney” among us the real Paul McCartney? Or is he a doppelganger foisted upon an unsuspecting public, conceived to fool multiple generations worth of Beatles and McCartney fans.
According to an old conspiracy theory, the Paul McCartney who performs today is not the real Paul McCartney. The real Paul McCartney died in 1967, and was replaced with an identical and equally talented double. The conspiracy started when in January of 1967 McCartney was involved in a minor traffic accident in London. Tales of the accident exploded in proportion, with McCartney at first suffering minor injuries, to McCartney being seriously wounded, until finally rumors persisted that McCartney was dead. Such rumors were not only spread by fans, but by magazines, newspapers, radio, and television. Despite rebuttals from the Beatles, and the continuing presence of a very much alive McCartney still performing with the band, the rumors continued on. Then they morphed into something greater; not only was Paul McCartney dead, but the Beatles covered up his death by hiring a look alike double.
According to the “Paul is Dead” conspiracy theorists, there are hundreds of clues which expose the faux Paul as being a fake. Such clues are supposedly found in photographs, songs lyrics, album cover art, and many other places. According to many Paul is Dead theorists, hints can be found by playing certain Beatles songs backwards. Others point to album cover art. For example; the photo of the Beatles crossing a street on the cover of “Abbey Road” is supposed to depict a funeral procession where Lennon, dressed in white, symbolizes the clergyman or heavenly figure. Ringo Starr, dressed in black, symbolizes the undertaker or mourner. George Harrison, in denim jeans and shirt, symbolizes the gravedigger and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with other members of the band, symbolizes the corpse.
Another common clue contained in cover art supposedly can be found on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” If you place a mirror on the drum in the center of the album, a double image is created with the cryptic words “IONEIX HE<>DIE”. Conspiracy theorists interpret the message as being the date of Paul’s death in semi Roman numerals (11-9-66 <> He DIE).
Others point to the doll on the right of the album cover. On its shirt is written, “WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES”. Supposedly, this is a clue to the rumor that the Rolling Stones helped cover up Paul’s death.
As the urban legend grew, so did the conspiracies. Other theories abounded, from McCartney being abducted by aliens and replaced with a clone, to McCartney being assassinated by the CIA and replaced with an impersonator. So could there be any truth to the theory? Ask the flying spaghetti monster, he probably knows.
The Beatles begin crossing Abbey Road (for the soon-to-be-iconic album cover, photographed by Iain Macmillan) on 8 August 1969, photographed by Linda McCartney.
“Tommy Nutter dressed three out of the four Beatles for the Abbey Road album cover. True to his non-conformist roots, George Harrison opted to dress in denim.” - “Rebel Tailor Tommy Nutter | The Legendary Savile Row Strutter,” The Selvedge Yard, 4 April 2012
“Well, I dressed them. George Harrison is wearing denim - he was always a tricky bugger.” - Tommy Nutter to Timothy Everest, quoted in Yorkshire Post, 31 October 2015
8 August 1969 The Beatles are shown prior to the cover photo session and Linda is also seen as well preparing to shoot her photography. A bit of trivia, John, Paul & Ringo wore suits designed by Tommy Nutter, while George wore simply denim and wore it well!
The Beatles during the filming of Magical Mystery Tour, Plymouth Hoe, September 1967
Photo: David Redfern
“Sheila Murfin recalled how George Harrison got the denim jacket he’s pictured in: ‘George is wearing my brother’s denim jacket. He asked if he could borrow it for this pic and never gave it back. My brother didn’t mind.’
The freed bus picked the boys up and took them off to Cornwall for more filming . But not before Phil Sargent caught a glimpse of them in traffic as the bus pulled away: 'I was 17 and an apprentice at the dockyard and we decided to go round the corner for some sandwiches.
'I left the others behind and as I turned the corner I saw a bus ahead of me. It was fantastically pained and I saw this guy who looked a lot like John Lennon and the man sitting next to him looked an awful lot like Paul McCartney.
'They waved so I waved back and the whole bus started waving and it suddenly dawned on me: it was the Beatles! I got back to my friends and told them they’d never guess who I’d just seen. They didn’t believe me.’” - The Plymouth Herald, 9 October 2014