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‘Paul Is Dead’ Rumor Anniversary

Beatles Hulton Archive
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today also marks the 46th anniversary of what was rumored to be the day Paul McCartney died (November 9th, 1966). The legendary conspiracy theory that McCartney died in a horrific car accident was first brought to the public’s attention nearly two years later, shortly after the release of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album.

According to legend, an angry McCartney stormed out of a Beatles recording session in the early hours of November 9th, 1966, which was supposedly referenced by the band as “Stupid bloody Tuesday” in 1967′s “I Am The Walrus.” He then supposedly died in a car crash. And because the Beatles feared that their fans would never accept his death, they supposedly hired an unnamed winner of a British McCartney look-alike contest, named William Campbell, to replace McCartney.

The band was said to have included various death clues in their songs and album covers to slowly break the news of McCartney’s demise to fans.

The first hole in the theory, which many “Paul Is Dead” conspiracists seem to overlook, is that the Beatles didn’t hold a recording session on that day — their first session that autumn was on November 24th. A second obvious hole is that November 9th, 1966 actually fell on a Wednesday — a clue that some enterprising fans believed was referenced in “She’s Leaving Home”: “Wednesday morning at five o’clock. . .”

“PAUL IS DEAD” CLUES

In The Grooves:

On the fade of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John Lennon is presumed to twice mutter the phrase “I buried Paul.” Lennon later went on record explaining that he was saying “cranberry sauce.”

The announcement of “Billy Shears” during the introduction to “With A Little Help From My Friends” was thought to be a subtle band introduction to McCartney’s supposed replacement, “William Campbell.”

On “The White Album’s” “Don’t Pass Me By” Ringo Starr sings, “You were in a car crash and you lost your hair.”

On that album’s “Revolution #9,” the repeated phrase “Number nine” when played backwards sounds alarmingly like a voice saying “Turn me on dead man.”

The end of “I’m So Tired,” when played backwards sounds like John Lennon is mumbling “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him.”

Lennon’s “Come Together” lyric of “One and one and one is three” is supposedly the surviving Beatles’ declaration that McCartney is indeed dead.

On The Covers:

On the cover of 1967′s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, McCartney is wearing a patch on his uniform stating “O.P.D.” Many assumed that this meant “Officially Pronounced Dead.” It later explained that it was one of the many police badges and patches given to the group during one of their North American tours, with O.P.D. standing for Ottawa Police Department.

Also on the front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, McCartney is shown holding an oboe, the only instrument held by a group member not featured in a marching band.

The flowers in the foreground of the Pepper sleeve are designed to look like a bass guitar, albeit one with only three strings, symbolizing three Beatles. That and McCartney posing with his back to the camera on the back cover were also considered “death clues.”

On the poster included with the group’s 1968 “White Album,” a photo featuring skeleton hands appears to be reaching out for McCartney.

The cover to 1969′s Abbey Road album cover was “decoded” as perhaps the ultimate death clue, with each Beatle portraying a character at a funeral; Lennon as an angel; Ringo as a priest; the barefoot McCartney — who is walking out of step with the others, and, as a lefty, strangely smoking a cigarette in his right hand — as the corpse; and George Harrison dressed as a gravedigger.

The white Volkswagen in the left corner bears the license plate “28 IF,” which was thought to mean, “28 years old — if he had lived.” (At the time of the album’s cover shoot on August 8th, 1969, McCartney would have actually only been 27.)

The back cover, which featured a cropped photo of a woman walking near the Abbey Road street sign in St. Johns Wood in London, has been perceived as being an abstract image symbolizing McCartney’s face crashing through his car windshield.

Although the Beatles issued no comment on McCartney’s supposed death, due to album sales being at an all-time peak with fans searching for “death clues,” McCartney eventually addressed the issue after being tracked down on his Scottish farm.

On November 7th, 1969, Life magazine featured a cover of McCartney, wife Linda, and daughters Heather and Mary, with the title “Paul Is Still With Us.”

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