Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced in the Beatles by lookalike Billy Shears (apparently). Throughout the second half of the 1960’s there were many clues discovered leading to intense speculation. Beatles fans the world over meticulously scoured The Beatles album covers and songs to discover the truth surrounding the death of Paul McCartney. Let’s look at some of the evidence…
Magical Mystery Tour
At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, John Lennon can be heard in the runout saying ‘I buried Paul’. Some people counter this saying he’s actually saying ‘Cranberry Sauce’. If you listen carefully to the version on Anthology 2 it also sounds like ‘I’m very tall’. Have a listen yourself and make your own mind up. Strawberry Fields Forever was originally released as a single but was later available on Magical Mystery Tour.
There are a number of visual aspects to the cover and booklet within the Magical Mystery Tour EP that led to speculation. Some of them may be pretty tenuous but here goes…
The word ‘Beatles’ is spelled out using stars on the cover. If you look at this backward and think of it as numbers, you get ‘2317438’, which was said to be the number of a London mortuary. Some people claimed to have dialed the number and received a message saying “you’re getting closer”.
On the cover, there are four walrusses. Obviously, the top three are John, George, and Ringo. Paul is the black walrus as Paul is dead. This is further backed up inside the cover, in the picture where the Beatles are wearing white suits, Paul is wearing a black carnation, the rest of the band are wearing red carnations.
At the end of the song ‘I Am The Walrus’ you can hear the words “O, untimely death!”, taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear. The lyrics also confirm that ‘The Walrus Was Paul’, so there you have it!
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to ‘A Day In The Life’, he blew his mind out in a car, he didn’t notice that the lights had changed. A crowd of people stood and stared, they’d seen his face before. In ‘Lovely Rita’, he took her home, he nearly made it. In ‘Godd Morning, Good Morning’ there was nothing to do to save his life. Sgt. Pepper also introduced the world to Billy Shears.
The cover of Sgt. Pepper shows The Beatles, along with their heroes and other cultural icons stood over a grave.
On the inner gatefold of the Sgt Pepper album Paul has his back to the camera to hide his identity. This has been discussed widely as being symbolic of death.
The White Album
If you listen to Revolution No. 9 from the White Album backward you can hear ‘Turn me on, dead man… Turn me on, dead man’. The track is also decidedly creepy, with crash sounds, screaming, crying, very disturbing, especially to an audience in 1968.
The cover of Abbey Road can be interpreted as depicting a funeral procession, with each Beatle having their own role to play. John Lennon leads the pack, dressed in a white suit, as the priest. Ringo follows behind as the undertaker, dressed in black. The left-handed Paul McCartney follows behind, holding a cigarette in his right-hand, indicating that this was an imposter playing the role of Paul. Paul also doesn’t wear shoes, he doesn’t need them because he’s dead. Paul is also walking out of step with the rest of the group, right foot first. George Harrison, in his workman’s denim, completes the procession as the gravedigger.