5. Yesterday and Today “Butcher Cover”
Now here’s a cover that provoked its own controversy. A product of a photo shoot with Robert Whitaker, this gruesome picture adorned a clumsily put-together compilation of Beatles’ tracks from various albums, aimed at the American market. When it was released in the US on 20 June 1966, the cover causes immediate outrage and new covers were sent out to stick over the old ones, featuring Paul in a trunk. A few years later both covers would be raked for clues, such as the decapitated head in Paul’s lap and the way that Paul seems to be in a coffin. There was only one problem. Have a look at the date of release again – yes, it’s another anachronism. Just a bad taste photoshoot after all!
4. “I Buried Paul”
Another clue which at least fits into the chronology, this derives from a murmur at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, which was released as a double A-side in February 1968. It’s unclear what John Lennon is saying at the end, but it certainly sounds a bit like “I buried Paul”. Later, John would insist that the line was “cranberry sauce“. Sound unlikely? Bear in mind the original lyrics to “Yesterday” were “Scrambled eggs, oh my darling how I love your legs”. Suddenly, Lennon muttering about a condiment doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary.
3. Linda Eastman
This was a cruel but plausible fan theory that points to Paul becoming Faul. Paul had been in a relationship with actress Jane Asher for 3 years prior to the “accident” and they were living together. Two years later he was marrying Linda Eastman, with the smallest of gaps in between women. Paul’s fans – who George referred to as the “Apple Scruffs” – were skeptical about his choice of bride and sneered at awkward Linda who had none of the poise of Jane. When Paul’s “death” was uncovered, many people took his change of personality as evidence that he wasn’t the same Paul who’d dated Jane. He also withdrew from London and spent time with his family and sheepdog on a remote Scottish farm. Case closed?
2. Abbey Rd Cover Art
The cover art of the Beatles’ last-recorded album is supposed to be blatant proof of Paul’s death. The iconic walk across the zebra crossing is meant to be Paul’s funeral procession, with George as scruffy denims as the gravedigger, barefoot Paul as the corpse, Ringo as the pallbearer in black, and all-white John as the preacher. Then it’s said that if you zoom in, a car license plate reads “28 IF” – 28 if Paul had lived. It can be argued that Paul would have been 27, not 28 in 1969 but Eastern religions include months spent in utero as part of someone’s age, and the Beatles were very involved in Eastern religion at the time. The first part of the license plate – “LMW” stood for “Linda McCartney weeps”. Probably the most famous set of clues, but not the most compelling.
1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Cover Art
The album that introduced Billy Shears was bound to be a treasure trove of visual clues, especially considering the famously complicated cover art. Some “clues” are more convincing than others, but there are a lot of them. A floral wreath spells out “Beatles” with a bass guitar with only three tuning pegs, indicating that only three Beatles were left alive. There’s an open palm behind Paul’s head – a symbol of death in some societies- and a tiny Aston Martin, representing the car he was driving in the apparent crash. There’s a picture of the four early Beatles, and they seem to be looking into a grave. Meanwhile, inside Paul wears an armband with the initials OPD – said to stand for “officially pronounced dead” – and on the back, Paul faces backwards and George’s thumb points to the line “Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins” which is supposed to be the time of the accident.
But it’s the disc itself which is said to hold the greatest clue – if you hold a mirror along the drum in its center, a message appears, reading “I ONE IX HE DIE”. It’s been interpreted as meaning “ 1 1 9 he die”, or 11 November, the date the accident is meant to have happened. Other people have interpreted it as “1”, “ONE” and “I” referring to the three remaining Beatles, and the X representing the dead Paul. The lyrics of the album were dissected too, until the full theory arose, involving Paul, a car, an early morning drive and a girl called Rita. It may not be true, but the conspiracy theorists certainly did a good job of making you wonder….