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The Paul-is-Dead Rumor Part 2: The Clues

Many of the clues that fans produced were far-fetched, but it was clear that there was an incredible amount of thought behind them. Fans everywhere were digging up clues from the later Beatles albums trying to make some sort of connection to the death of Paul McCartney. Hundreds of clues surfaced, but there are a few that anyone familiar with the rumor accept as truth.       

Beginning with the first album “post-Paul”, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, fans uncovered many clues within the lyrics, but also within the album cover itself. Many believed that the cover of the album was intended to be a funeral scene, specifically a grave. The cover of this album features a floral arrangement which can point to the death of McCartney. The yellow flowers are arranged in a pattern that resembled the shape of McCartney’s bass guitar. Other fans have interpreted these flowers as the initial ‘P’ for Paul. Some even claim that the flowers spell out “Paul?” On the inside cover of the album, McCartney is pictured wearing a patch on his arm that says “OPD.” Fans believe that these letters stand for “officially pronounced dead.” Skeptics of this rumor claim that it stands for “Ontario Police Department.” In this same image, McCartney is shown wearing a medal on his left breast, which is given by the British Army, usually to commemorate a heroic death. The songs on this album also led many to believe that McCartney had died. The most obvious song on the album was “A Day in the Life.” This song features lyrics such as, “he blew his mind out in a car”, “a crowd of people stood and stared, they’d seen his face before”, etc. Many Beatles fans were also aware that the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” was recorded during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. At the end of this song, many claimed to hear Lennon saying the words, “I buried Paul.” This song, while not featured on this album, ended up being featured on Magical Mystery Tour.

Magical Mystery Tour, fans claim, is full of clues alluding to McCartney’s death. In this album, there is a constant appearance of a hand behind McCartney’s head in nearly every picture in the record album. According to fans, the hand behind the head is a symbol to mystics of death. Another clue is the picture of McCartney on the third page of the booklet with the poster saying “I YOU WAS,” indicating a change of identity. This goes along with the belief that the other Beatles had replaced McCartney with a lookalike after his untimely death. On page five of the booklet are images of surgeons and policemen, which were both present at the scene of the car accident. On pages ten and thirteen of the booklet, McCartney is picture wearing black pants with no shoes. Dead men are buried in black pants and with no shoes. Also in these images to accompany the album are a pair of empty shoes, which appear next to Ringo’s drum on page thirteen. These empty shoes were apparently a Grecian symbol of death. Finally, on page twenty-three of this booklet, the group is pictured descending a curved staircase. McCartney is wearing a black rose while the other three Beatles are wearing red roses. Fans took this as more proof that McCartney was indeed dead.

The songs on this album provided even more clues for those who were looking. The opening song, “Magical Mystery Tour,” told the fans that the Magical Mystery Tour was “dying” to take them. “The Fool on the Hill” is said to be sitting “perfectly still,” as if he were a dead man. In the song “I am the Walrus,” Lennon says that he is crying, presumably over the death of McCartney. LaBour claimed that “Walrus” was Greek for corpse, which it is not. The end of “I am the Walrus” also contains passages from King Lear about death and villains, which is another supposed clue.

The album The Beatles, better known as The White Album, is another Beatles production that is riddled with clues. There was a collage included with this album. This collage pictures McCartney lying on his back in the upper left-hand corner in a pool of water with the top of his head missing. William Campbell, the supposed Paul McCartney lookalike that substituted for him after his death is also pictured on the collage. His passport photos is present in the bottom left-hand corner.

The song lyrics provide most of the clues on this album. The song “Dear Prudence” begs McCartney to come back and “open up” his eyes. Apparently, Lennon used to call McCartney “Prudence” in their early time together when they were known as the “Nurk Twins.” The track that really stands out in terms of clues is “Revolution 9.” Besides the aforementioned playing backward of the track, fans had found other clues in the song. Many claim that when the entire track is played backward, it presents the entire sequence of a car accident in sound.

Abbey Road was also found to contain multiple clues pointing to the death of Paul McCartney. The album cover provided multiple clues for fans to discover. The first clue that many referenced is the clothing that The Beatles are shown wearing on the cover. John Lennon is dressed in all white, representing an almost god-like figure. Other fans interpret Lennon dressed in white as a preacher. Following Lennon is Ringo Starr, who is dressed in a suit, presumably representing the undertaker or possibly the funeral goer. Following Starr is McCartney himself, or at this point William Campbell, the lookalike. Paul is dressed a suit and wearing no shoes. This clue alludes back to the fact that corpses do no wear shoes when they are buried, resembling the clue from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. George Harrison is pictured wearing an all denim outfit, acting as the gravedigger. If one looks closely, claimed LaBour, one can see that the Beatles had just walked out of a cemetery on the left side of the street. This led fans to believe that the album cover was depicting McCartney being resurrected, given a cigarette, and led out of the tomb, thereby conquering death with a little help from his friends. The real McCartney was still dead, of course, but the symbolic resurrection was carried out by William Campbell.

The songs on the album itself also provided some clues about McCartney’s death, but also his apparent resurrection. Many songs on the album allude to death itself, such as “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” “Octopus’s Garden” is British Navy slang for the cemetery in England where naval heroes are buried, perhaps alluding to the Yellow Submarine days of The Beatles. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is supposed to be Lennon wrestling to pull McCartney out of the grave.

Morgan Smith

Elizabethtown '21

History Major Women and Gender Studies Minor
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