I was on Twitter last week, when the Guardian Music posted a link to a site that claims (in all seriousness) that The Beatles were actually made up of several different members – all appearing in different countries for different photo-shoots. Yes, you read that correctly. There were a couple of different Johns, a couple of Ringos, etc.
The person who provides the most “evidence” for the site managers, however, is one James Paul McCartney. Yep, the ol’ Paul rumours have been stoked once again.
One of the longest-running, and often the most outrageous conspiracy theories in the music world is that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in November, 1966. He was then replaced with either: a) a look-alike who had many plastic surgeries to look even more like J.P.M. or b) some sort of robotic creation. Now, it does seem much easier to believe a) over b), I admit, though they both sound loopy. The theorists often refer to ‘the impostor’ as “Faul” (‘Fake Paul’, geddit?)
As with any conspiracy, all of the answers to any questions are easily supplied. The reason to keep the band together, after Paul’s untimely demise? Well, it was for the revenue generated by the group, which went to the UK. Why the band would give out clues as to what happened? They were ‘hidden’, so only those in-the-know would decipher them. And on and on…
Allegedly, if you look at photos of Paul in 1967, you can “tell” it’s ‘Faul’ because the ears and chin appear different to photos of Paul in 1965/early 1966. The theorists point to a myseterious height difference, too. Some say he grew taller, some that he was suddenly shorter. See, that should maybe put a damper on the theory right there – they can’t even decide on the physical features of ‘Faul’.
The reason they all grew moustaches in early 1967? Well, ‘Faul’ had some lip surgery and needed to cover the scars, of course..so the others made it look as if they had all planned to do it.
There are probably hundreds of internet sites all about the ‘clues’ on the album covers and in some of the songs. The “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover allegedly contains the most. The flower arrangement shaped like a (left-handed – Paul ‘was’ a leftie, remember?) guitar spells out “Paul?”. The doll that says “Welcome The Rolling Stones, Good Guys” has a toy Austin-Healey car on it’s lap, as well as a blood-red driving glove – Macca was driving an Austin-Healey when he ‘died’. The four wax figures of the “old” Beatles are looking mournfully down at Paul’s ‘grave’, which is in front of the drum. Paul is standing in front of the cutout with a hand over his head, which is the sign of death in some Eastern countries. There are other ‘clues’, which you can read about on one of the sites.
There’s one ‘clue’ that does seem fairly creepy, though. If you hold a mirror to the drum head – it spells out “I ONE I X HE DIE” with what looks like a small arrow pointing up to Paul, between the “E” and “D”. The “IX” refers to the 9th of November, supposedly the day Paul died. It doesn’t ‘prove’ anything, of course – but still a bit spooky.
Some of the songs, too. “Fixing A Hole” becomes a tune about the band continuing on with “Faul”. The character “Billy Shears” is a nod to the impostor’s real name. “Lovely Rita” is a meter maid that Paul saw just before the accident. John references the same in the line from “Good Morning, Good Morning“: “Watching a skirt, you start to flirt, now you’re in gear…” There’s also the “he blew his mind out in a car” line from “A Day In The Life” – which John explained was about Tara Browne, the Guinness heir who also died in a car accident – but we all know it’s really about Paul (wink, wink).
“Magical Mystery Tour” and The “White Album” contain more clues. The title track with it’s “dying to take you away” line. “Fool On The Hill” describes yet another version of Paul’s death – where he went to France and was pushed (or fell?) from a cliff onto a beach. “I Am The Walrus” – another animal as a symbol of death. In the M.M.T. film, during the “Your Mother Should Know” dance sequence – John, George & Ringo are all wearing red carnations on their tuxedos, Paul is wearing a black carnation. In the fade-out of “I Am The Walrus” – it sounds like a voice is saying “Paul is really dead.”
The White Album has the famous “turn me on, dead man” backwards bit in Revolution 9. There’s also another bit where Lennon is talking, saying something about a man needing a surgeon, but going to a dentist instead. The link between “I’m So Tired” and “Blackbird” is Lennon mumbling something. When this is played backward, Lennon is heard saying “Paul’s dead, man, miss him, miss him.” “Blackbird”s first lyrics are “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…”
On the poster that came with the 2-LP set, there’s a small black-and-white photo of Paul, tucked into a lower corner. The theorists are claiming is “Billy Shears”, or “Faul” or whatever you want to call him. I dunno, it looks like Paul to me, but maybe I’m a part of the conspiracy too????!!!
I don’t really need to go into the Abbey Road LP cover, do I? Y’know – Paul’s barefoot, the rest are wearing shoes. There’s the order of them, John’s the preacher, Ringo’s the mourner, Paul’s the stiff and George, the grave-digger. the Volkswagen ‘beetle’ in the background has a licence plate that reads “LMW 28IF”. “LMW” allegedly means “Linda McCartney Weeps”, which doesn’t really make sense if Macca died in ’66 – he would not have met her at all. The “28IF” means that he would have been 28, if he lived – which isn’t true either, seeing as he was born in 1942 – he would have been 27.
The back cover shows a crack in the wall, that runs through the “S” in Beatles, meaning the group were not whole. I think there’s a few other ones (Something about the indents in the wall – some are in light, one is not). As for the songs, the abrupt ending of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is supposed to represent the abrupt ending of Paul’s life. In “Come Together“, John sings “One and one and one makes three“, meaning the remaining Beatles. The “Maxell” in “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is allegedly about the MI5 agent used by the UK government to keep everything hush-hush about Paul’s demise.
Finally, the Let It Be cover shows bearded Paul’s mouth obscured by a microphone, while the others’ mouths are not covered….and Paul’s in front of a red background, while the others are against a white background. Hmmm….what does this all mean??
To me, nothing. I don’t really believe the conspiracy theory. Ultimately, The Beatles were a great rock band–if the ‘establishment’ were using them, it backfired, as The Fabs became avatars for the psychedelic counter-culture. They used their music for peace, not fomenting militarism. As far as keeping the band going – John seemed to want to leave around 1967 anyway and George was feeling dis-satisfied during the White Album sessions. Even Ringo quit the group in 1968, only to be persuaded to come back. It seems to me that ‘Faul’ would’ve wanted it to end as quickly as possible, so he wouldn’t have to keep acting like Paul McCartney – take the money and run, so to speak.
That doesn’t stop the theorists, though. It seems to be a “Thinker Thinks, Prover Proves” situation. They’re convinced Macca died and was replaced, or there were several different Paul McCartneys, for different occasions. If you dare to brave the murky waters of the “Paul Is Dead” rumours, here’s a couple of links:
This person not only thinks Paul is dead – they think that the same guy who stepped in for Paul, stepped in for Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as well!!!???!!! Vivian Stanshall died in ’66, too?????!!!! I’m not even sure how that dual role thing would physically work, seeing as the guy (whom he calls “Phil Ackrill”) had to perform in Beatles sessions and record and sing with the Bonzos. The site is here.
This site is a handy guide to the visual and audio ‘clues’ to the “Paul Is Dead” rumour: Paul Is Dead Hoax
Here’s the site the Guardian linked to – which inspired me to write this post. Ladies and Gents, I give you: The Beatles Never Existed! You just need to read it – it doesn’t even bear me explaining it to you. To me, the title of the site is a misnomer, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
This blog page goes into a bit more detail about Paul ‘dying’ in France in 1966 – allegedly spoken (or written) by George Harrison in 1992: Paul died in France
“…the man with the foolish grin is talking perfectly loud…”