Paul is Dead

paul is dead

Paul is dead‘ is an urban legend suggesting that Paul McCartney of the English rock band The Beatles died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. In September 1969, American college students published articles claiming that clues to McCartney’s death could be found among the lyrics and artwork of The Beatles’ recordings.

Clue hunting proved infectious and within a few weeks had become an international phenomenon. Rumors declined after a contemporary interview with McCartney was published in Life magazine in November 1969. Popular culture continues to make occasional reference to the legend.

In the autumn of 1969, The Beatles were in the process of disbanding; McCartney’s public engagements were few and he was spending time at his Scottish retreat with his new wife Linda in order to contemplate his forthcoming solo career. One month later, an article titled ‘Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?’ was published in the student newspaper of Drake University in Iowa. The article described a rumor that had been circulating on campus that Paul was dead, and included numerous clues from recent Beatles albums, including the ‘turn me on, dead man’ message heard when ‘Revolution 9’ from the White Album is played backwards.

Various ‘clues’ were used to suggest the following story: three years previously in 1966) McCartney, after an argument during a Beatles’ recording session, had angrily driven off in his car. He had crashed it and died as a result. To spare the public from grief, the Beatles replaced him with ‘William Campbell,’ the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest.

Hundreds of supposed clues to McCartney’s death were reported by fans and followers of the legend; these included messages perceived when listening to a song being played backwards, and symbolic interpretations of both lyrics and album cover imagery. One oft-cited example was the suggestion that the words spoken by McCartney’s band-mate John Lennon in the final section of the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ are ‘I buried Paul.’ McCartney later revealed the words were actually ‘cranberry sauce.’

Another was the interpretation of the Abbey Road album cover as symbolizing a funeral procession, with ‘John, dressed in pure white, symbolizes the preacher or heavenly body. Ringo, dressed in full black, symbolizes the mourner. George, in scruffy denim jeans and shirt, symbolises the gravedigger and Paul, barefoot and out of step with other members of the band, symbolizes the corpse.’

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