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On the cover, Paul’s head is turned to one side, making him different from the other boys. Plus, a hand is held above Paul’s head — a benediction for the dead, and the Indian sign for death. FN16
If you drive a car, Paul… FN17
If you get too cold, Paul… FN18
Now my advice for those who die (tax man)
Declare the pennies on your eyes (tax man)
“Taxman” is code for “taxidermist.” FN19 And the placing of pennies on the eyes of a corpse is a very old custom. FN20
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear…
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
McKenzie = McCartney
Sky of blue
Sea of green
In our yellow submarine
The “submarine” is really a coffin, and the sea of green is a sea of green grass. See also the Yellow Submarine album, below.
She Said She Said
She said, I know what it’s like to be dead
For No One
She says her love is dead…
She says that long ago she knew someone but now he’s gone…
She = Jane Asher
Got to Get You Into My Life
I was alone
I took a ride
I didn’t know what I would find there
Tomorrow Never Knows
…surrended to the void…
…Paul played the game existence to the end… FN21
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This is the most revealing album of all.With Sgt. Pepper, the boys have assumed the identity of a new, fictitious (i.e., “false”) band, the nonexistent “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The changes in name and in their appearance, and the large funeral depicted on the cover (at which the mourners are all famous people who are either dead, or whose careers are dead FN22) are a clear message that the Beatles we once knew are no longer. Note that younger versions (appearing to be waxworks, or “still life”) of all the lads stare mournfully downward, into the grave.
Paul is the only Beatle facing forward, and he appears to be supported, or held upright, by the other Beatles. As on the Revolver cover, an open hand is held above Paul’s head. Also, Shiva, the Indian goddess of death and destruction, is pointing at Paul.
Close examination reveals that Paul is wearing a shoulder patch reading OPD. Remember this significant detail, because we will come back to it later.
The doll is that of Shirley Temple, whose transition from child star to politician symbolizes another career death and “reincarnation.” There is blood running down her dress,FN23 a bloody driving glove next to her left leg, and she holds in her lap a toy car just like the one in which Paul died. Also note the legend, WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES, across her sweater; this indicates the “abdication” of the Beatles as the world’s greatest band, paving the way for their closest rivals, the Stones.
Not far from the doll is a TV set, which is turned off, indicating that Paul’s death was censored from the media.
The yellow hyacinth flowers at the grave are in the shape of a bass guitar (left-handed, of course — Paul was the only southpaw in the band), and, if you look at them from a distance, the flowers spell out PAUL. Turn the cover 90 degrees counterclockwise, and the same flowers become a large letter P.
The guitar is resting on a casket, and three sticks atop the bass (to make three “strings” for the guitar) represent the three surviving Beatles.
Using a mirror to reverse the words:
on the drum reveals the message:
1 ONE 1 X = HE DIE
with an arrow pointing at Paul. “One and one and one is three” is a lyric from Come Together (Abbey Road) that means there are only three Beatles now. The X next to the 1 ONE 1 means that Paul has been X’d out.
If this message seems terribly primitive and clunky, it had to be “spelled out” this way, because it is actually a double message:
1 ONE 1 X = 1 1 1 X
November 9 — the date of Paul’s death!
While the British write dates the other way around — meaning that November 9 would be written “9-11″ — remember that this is meant to be a mirror image… thus, only the truly observant would see that the date of Paul’s death would be a mirror image of a mirror image!
(And no, there is no significance to the number “9-11″; there is no reason to think the Beatles could foretell the date of the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001. Likewise, 999 (not 911) is the emergency number in the U.K. — and even if the Beatles meant to send a “special message” to their American fans, 911 was not in wide use as the standard emergency number in the United States when this album was made.)
On the back cover, the other Beatles face forward while “Paul” turns his back. This “Paul” is also too tall to be the real Paul; this strange “rising” above the others indicates his ascension into Heaven.
The other three Beatles are making subtle signs for the letters of the alphabet: George makes an L by bending his thumb, John’s hands in his pants make a V, and Ringo’s crossed fingers make an E. Obviously, the word is LOVE, but “Paul” is not making an O, so the word — like the group — is incomplete. FN24
The words “Without You” (from the title of Within You and Without You) come out of “Paul’s” head. George’s thumb is pointing at the lyrics Wednesday morning at five o’clock, the time of Paul’s death. And you’ll find many more clues by reading the lyrics across the back cover, from left to right, beginning with “Somebody calls you / You answer quite slowly”, going on to “Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins”, to “Life flows on within you and without you”, to “You’re on your own / You’re in the street”.
On the inside cover, “Paul” wears a black arm band bearing the letters OPD, which in Canada means Officially Pronounced Dead. FN25
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears
Billy Shears = Billy’s here = William Campbell is here!
Fixing a Hole
Silly Beatle run around…
William Campbell is adjusting to his role as the New Paul. FN26
She’s Leaving Home
Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins…
The time of Paul’s death.
Standing by a parking meter
When I caught a glimpse of Rita…
Paul was looking at a pretty meter maid when he should have been watching the road.
Good Morning, Good Morning
Heading for home you start to roam then you’re in town
Everybody knows there’s nothing doing
Everything is closed it’s like a ruin
Everyone you see is half asleep
And you’re on your own, you’re in the street…
People running around it’s five o’clock…
Watching the skirts you start to flirt now you’re in gear…
Nothing to do to save his life…
Tells the story of the accident.
A Day In the Life
I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
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
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Paul FN27
Of course, this is a literal description of the accident.
(Side 2, British release only)
Play it backward to hear:
“Will Paul be back as Superman?” FN28
Magical Mystery Tour
On the cover:
When BEATLES (spelled out in stars) is held up to a mirror, the reflection reveals the phone number, 2317438, of a London mortuary. Some people report that the number is actually 23LTA38, and, upon calling it, received such messages as “You’re getting closer” and “Paul McCartney is dead.”
“Paul” is dressed as a walrus, a symbol of death in some cultures. FN29 In Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter, walruses eat oysters and then die. FN30
On page 3 of the 24-page photo booklet (inside the fold-out album cover), the New Paul (with the telling scar) sits behind a desk upon which rests a prominently-displayed nameplate reading I WAS. On the wall behind Paul are two crossed British flags, positioned as they would be for a military funeral.
Page 9 has a cartoon of Paul labeled “The Fool on the Hill”; the cartoon Paul’s head shows a distinct crack through his skull.
On page 13 (picture at right), there is a message on Ringo’s bass drum: “Love, The 3 Beatles,” making it clear that there are only three “real” Beatles in the picture.
As in a number of other photos, “Paul” is barefoot in this picture (see Abbey Road for the significance of this); his shoes, covered in blood, are neatly placed next to the telling message on the bass drum.
On page 15, Paul is shown playing with a toy car.
Of the photo of the Beatles eating a meal with some other people: If you rotate this picture 90 degrees, you can see that the beret worn by the person closest to the camera is actually the left eye socket of a skull. It is the only picture in the photo book that was not taken from a scene in the film, Magical Mystery Tour.
An open hand above “Paul’s” head can be found on page 18, and again on the last page.
Finally, in the photo of the Beatles wearing tuxedos (from the film’s Your Mother Should Know number), John, George and Ringo sport red carnations. Paul’s is black. FN31
Strawberry Fields Forever
Living is easy with eyes closed…
At the end of the track, John clearly says, “I buried Paul.” FN32
Fool on the Hill
Day after day
Alone on a hill
The man with the foolish grin is perfectly still
But nobody ever hears him and the sound he appears to make…
In the photo book, Paul is The Fool on the Hill.
I Am the Walrus
I am the eggman
They are the eggman
I am the walrus
Eggs signify birth or life, and the walrus symbolizes death, thus:
I am alive
They are alive
I am dead
Bury me, bury me… Bury my body…
Paul, you’re darn near death…
You say goodbye
I say hello
This is William Campbell’s own goodbye to Paul.
All You Need Is Love
No one you can save that can’t be saved…
Nothing anyone could do could have saved Paul.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown…
The clues to Paul’s death are in plain sight.
Yes, he’s dead FN33
What sounds like “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” is actually “We loved you, yeah, yeah, yeah…” FN34
Magical Mystery Tour
…dying to take you away
Take you away…
On the cover, the picture behind the Beatles (above the doorway) shows Paul’s burial place.
(Released as a single in 1968, Lady Madonna, like Revolution, was re-released on the Hey Jude album in 1970.)
Wednesday morning papers didn’t come…
The story of Paul’s death was yanked from the Wednesday newspaper at the beginning of the coverup.
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
Paul died FN35
The cover shows the Beatles crossing the road — as in “crossing the river,” or more literally, single-file as in a funeral procession. John, in white, is the preacher. Ringo, in black, is the pallbearer, or mourner — or the undertaker. George, in work clothes, is the gravedigger. “Paul,” eyes closed, barefoot, out of step with his mates, is the dead man. (Corpses, of course, are buried without shoes.) “Paul” is also the only one smoking a cigarette (or “coffin nail”), and he is holding it in his right hand — proof that this “Paul” is really William Campbell, as the real Paul was lefthanded. FN36
The license plate on the Volkswagen (a Volkswagen Beetle, mind you) is LMW 28IF. The top three letters — LMW — is an acronym for “Linda McCartney Weeps,” and 28IF means that Paul would have been 28 — IF he had lived. FN37 While Paul really would have been 27, the Hindus consider a child one year old at birth, FN38 and the Beatles were into Indian mysticism.
The back cover shows a crack running through the words THE BEATLES, meaning a split in the group. Near the words Abbey Road is a subliminal image of a skull, in the shadow cast on the wall. Also, a woman is walking by — is this Rita?
Here come old flattop
Flattop = no hair. Paul’s hair was burned away in the fiery crash.
He got joo-joo eyeball
Undertakers usually replace the eyeballs of the deceased to avoid a “sunken” look.
…he one holy roller
He’s in Heaven.
He got hair down to his knee
It’s a fact that hair continues to grow after death.
He wear no shoeshine
…because corpses are buried without shoes.
He say, I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me
Paul is speaking to the others, requesting their presence at his grave.
He bag production he got walrus gumboot
The walrus again.
…he one spinal cracker
Paul’s back was broken in the crash.
He say, one and one and one is three
There are only three Beatles now.
Got to be good-looking ’cause he’s so hard to see
You can’t see him because he’s dead.
Played backwards, the phrase “Don’t want to leave her now” is really “Not a Beatle, no… Not a Beatle, no…”
I’d like to be under the sea
In Yellow Submarine, the green sea is a “sea of grass,” or cemetery.
Here Comes the Sun
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Paul died in November, and spent his first winter alone in the grave.
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right
This is a reference to Heaven and rebirth — or reincarnation. (Remember the Beatles’ guru was the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.)
You Never Give Me Your Money
One two three four five six seven
All good children go to Heaven
Mean Mr. Mustard
Sleeps in a hole
Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
Polythene bag = body bag. Deliberate use of female subject to indicate use of a double. (A female “in drag” would be dressed as a man).
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
Didn’t anybody tell her?
Her = Jane Asher
Didn’t anybody see?
Sunday’s on the phone to Monday
Tuesday’s on the phone to me
She couldn’t be on the phone to him Wednesday, because he died that day.
Carry That Weight
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
“That weight” being the weight of the earth on top of Paul’s coffin.
And in the middle of the celebration
I break down
“Celebration” (of life) = funeral
On the cover, another open hand appears above Paul’s head. The yellow submarine appears to be underground — not underwater.
Only a Northern Song
When you’re listening late at night
You may think the band is not quite right
You may think the band’s a little dark and out of key
You’re correct, there’s nobody there
You think you know me but you haven’t got a clue
This is a message from William Campbell.
All You Need Is Love
See Magical Mystery Tour.
Act Naturally FN39
The surviving Beatles had to “act naturally” in order to pull off the coverup. On the 45rpm sleeve, Paul is the only Beatle not looking at the camera. The B-side is Yesterday (see Yesterday and Today).
Baby’s in Black
She thinks of him and so she dresses in black
And though he’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black
Oh dear, what can I do?
She = Jane Asher
You Know My Name, Look Up the Number
(B-side of Let It Be)
During the song, a phone number is spoken. When the number was called, the message “Beware of Abbey Road” was heard.
A Hard Day’s Night FN40
During "Can’t Buy Me Love," that’s director Richard Lester running down the street with the other three Beatles, not Paul. FN41
During All You Need Is Love, John sings Yes, he’s dead, while on the screen the word KNOW turns into the word NOW.
Thanks for joining me on this trip down Death-Hoax Memory Lane. I just love death hoaxes, for two reasons: First, they’re highly imaginative. Second, I never ceased to be amazed by the hysteria that sometimes accompanies conspiracy theories. (Not all conspiracy theories can or should be dismissed, of course, and some should be deliberated endlessly until the truth is found. For instance, I’m a reasonable person, but I’ve been known to lie awake piecing together the JFK assassination.)
I’d like to document more of these myths… like the John Lennon Death Clues. What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of the John Lennon Death Clues? Well, let’s go back to page 6 of the photo book in the Magical Mystery Tour album. There’s a picture of John next to a sign that says: “The best way to go is by M&D Co.” The initials MDC, of course, refer to John’s assassin, Mark David Chapman.
Yes, I’m quite serious.
When I was in high school, the rumor making the rounds concerned a group I’ll bet you’ve forgotten all about: The Ohio Players. Their 1975 hit song was “Rollercoaster” (a.k.a. “Love Rollercoaster”), in which a faint but distinct scream can be heard during an instrumental bridge (right after it sounds like the singer goes, “Ow”):
The facts: On the cover of the album Honey, a nude model is sitting atop a sheet of glass, holding a ladle of honey above her head, dripping the gooey stuff all over her body.
The rumor: The sheet of glass turned out to be a sheet of Plexiglas®, to which the model was horribly allergic. Plus, the honey reacted chemically with the Plexiglas to form a sort of instant glue that bonded the model to the spot — and when finally yanked free, her skin was ripped apart. So… While the Ohio Players were recording “Rollercoaster,” the model — whose career had been ruined because of her terrible scars — burst into the recording studio, screaming about how she was going to sue everybody. The group’s manager panicked, and either stabbed her or strangled her to death right there in the control booth — and her tortured scream of death ended up on the record.
Yeah, and Elvis is my plumber. No, really.
I hate to admit it, but the Ohio Players story scared the heck out of me when I was 14… and it accomplished something else, too: It made two of my friends and me chip in to buy the album. More than thirty years later, when I hear “Rollercoaster,” a funny little shiver slithers up my spine. I mean, I don’t believe the incident ever really occurred — but I do remember how eerie the whole story was to us kids.
Books About the Paul Is Dead Hoax
Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Beatles and the “Paul Is Dead” Hoax In the fall of 1969, the story seemed to come out of nowhere. Was Beatle Paul McCartney dead? This was no ordinary death rumor. It was believed that McCartney had died years earlier and been replaced by a lookalike. What’s more, the surviving Beatles were thought to have planted “clues” to his death on their record albums. “Paul-Is-Dead” mania swept the United States as people attempted to solve the riddle of Paul’s alleged demise. How did all of this happen? Beatles scholar and journalist Andru J Reeve has gotten to the bottom of this intrigue. After years of research, Reeve has assembled Turn Me On, Dead Man to tell the strangest tale ever in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. © Amazon.com. Used with permission.
The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues It was the late 1960s, the Beatles hadn’t toured since 1966, and some truly bizarre indications began appearing, pointing to the unthinkable: Paul McCartney had been killed in a car accident and replaced by a look-alike. The Walrus Was Paul unearths every single clue from one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most enduring puzzles and takes you on a magical mystery tour of baffling, yet fascinating, hints for solving this mystery. Amazon.com. Used with permission.
A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song A lavishly illustrated, rollicking account of the real people and events that inspired the Beatles’ lyrics.
Who was “just seventeen” and made Paul’s heart go “boom”? Was there really an Eleanor Rigby? Where’s Penny Lane? In A Hard Day’s Write, music journalist Steve Turner shatters many well-worn myths and adds a new dimension to the Fab Four’s rich legacy by investigating for the first time the ordinary people and events immortalized in the Beatles’ music and now occupying a special niche in popular culture’s collective imagination.
Arranged chronologically by album, the book breaks new ground by exploring how private incidents influenced the group’s writing and how their music evolved. Turner reveals that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was really a drawing by Julian Lennon of his childhood friend; Bungalow Bill was an all-American tiger hunter; Doctor Robert was a New York ’speech doctor’; and much more. A longtime Beatles admirer, Turner tracked down and interviewed the real-life subjects of the songs, probed public records and newspaper archives, and spoke in depth to the people closet to the Beatles to unearth tales that have never before been made public. The result is a book that chronicles an untold story of the Beatles themselves.
Illustrated with over 200 photographs, A Hard Day’s Write is a visually alluring and highly entertaining journey to the land stretching just beneath your conscious mind, mapped out with strawberry fields, fool-topped hills, and long and winding roads. Amazon.com. Used with permission.
Copyright © 1996, 1998, 2002, 2008 Joyce A. Rogers. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or redistributed by any means in any form without express written permission from the author.