Thursday, September 12, 2013

Conspiracy Theory: Paul McCartney Is Dead

Conspiracy-minded Beatlemaniacs say Paul McCartney secretly died in 1966 and the other Beatles covered up his death – hiring someone who looked like him, sang like him and had the same personality.
Paul then
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Paul Now
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The story goes that on Wednesday 9 November 1966, McCartney stormed out of a session for the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, got in to his Austin Healey car, and subsequently crashed and died.

In fact, the crash never happened. Between 6 and 19 November 1966, McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher were on vacation in France and Kenya.

However, a couple of relevant incidents did take place. On 26 December 1965 McCartney crashed his moped, resulting in a chipped tooth (seen in the videos for Paperback Writer and Rain) and a scar on his top lip, which he hid by growing a moustache.

Additionally, on 7 January 1967 McCartney's Mini Cooper was involved in an accident on the M1 motorway outside London, but the car was being driven by a friend; McCartney was at a party in Sussex.



The origins of the myth
The first known print reference to McCartney’s death was an article in a September 1969 edition of the Times-Delphic, the newspaper of the Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The author later claimed that he wasn't the original source for any of the information in his article. He claimed he was writing for entertainment purposes only, got the information from a fellow student, who in turn said he got the story from a musician who had heard it on the Californian west coast.

The rumors gained momentum on 12 October 1969, after an on-air phone call to radio WKNR-FM in Michigan. The caller, identified only as 'Tom', claimed that McCartney was dead, and instructed the DJ to play Revolution 9 backwards, where the repeated "number nine" phrase was heard as "turn me on, dead man."

Listening to the show was an arts reviewer for the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. He used clues from the radio program along with others he had invented himself - including the name of William Campbell, the alleged replacement for McCartney, to write a story.

It was published in the Michigan Daily under the title McCartney Dead; New Evidence Brought To Light. Although clearly intended as a joke, it had an impact far wider than the writer and his editor expected. The writer admitted later he made the whole thing up.



Shortly afterwards, a one-hour special called The Beatle Plot, fueled the rumor; and it was well on its way to become a national, then international, story, inspiring fans to pore over their albums for further clues. "Clues" that confirmed Paul was dead were on the Abbey Road album cover photograph.Further reading 

Abbey Road cover
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A British version of the rumor is believed to have existed prior to the American one, with fewer details. The sources are unknown, but the notion of McCartney dying in a road accident appears to have originated there.

Life Magazine cover
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Rumors started to decline after Life magazine’s cover in November 1969, which pictured Paul, Linda and their children.

In a Public Policy Polling Report in April, it was found that five percent of those polled (in this case, U.S. voters) believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966.

So there we have it: another conspiracy story. Or could it be called an Urban Legend, Hoax or Misinformation? Take your pick. But an interesting story, nevertheless!

The next and final post of this series: The Moon Landings were Faked.




15 comments:

  1. Very interesting, I had never heard of this before.

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    1. Hi Phillip,
      You might be too young to remember when the rumor was going around. I haven't really heard it mentioned much in quite a long time. But it was all the talk among Beatles fans during the late 60s.

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  2. i remember playing the record backwards and listening for the words. we had a lot of fun with this back in the day and played a lot of records backwards. you'd be surprised at what kinds of things you can hear if you set your mind to it ;)

    i had no idea anybody actually still believed this!

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    1. Some folks just never give up on their beliefs, regardless of how far-fetched they are. LPs are now relics of the past, so the young generation just wouldn't have a concept of what it means to play a record backwards!

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  3. Interesting post Sanda.
    I had never even heard this theory or story before.
    For me, Paul Mc Cartney is alive and singing.
    The press often start some of these rumors ...and they become bigger and bigger.
    thank you for sharing it.
    xx val

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    1. Long live Paul McCartney. He's just amazing. Still sounds terrific. Never been another quite like him, IMO.

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  4. Although I've never heard this one it was still interesting to hear how it got started. Rumors. Does anyone else remember being cautioned about believing or worse starting rumors when they were young? My GM had a whole lecture she's produce on the topic, LOL!

    Darla

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    1. I can't say as I remember being specifically cautioned about starting or spreading rumors; just the gossip lecture, and in a way, they are the same, aren't they?

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  5. I love this series, Sanda... I do remember this rumour, but I'm surprised it is still going around, despite so much evidence to the contrary. He might be old, and Sir Paul, but he's still that cute beatle I loved when I was 17, and he came to our city :))

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    1. Wasn't he the cutest thing? Was he your favorite Beatle? He was mine. Those were the days. Baby I'm Amazed some still believe the rumor :-)

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    2. Yes, of course, Paul was my favourite Beatle. I was not much of a fan of pop music generally, and the Beatles concert was, I think, the only one of these I ever attended. After some hesitation, I decided to join in the general mayhem and started to scream out 'Paul' at every opportunity. Funny memories :)

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  6. I have a very faint memory of this, but never have heard the whole story.
    How clever of you to come up with this series. I missed the first one, but will read it next.
    Somehow, these tales are a bit scary..

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    1. It's been rather run doing these posts. Learned a bit myself. I wasn't aware of all the details associated with how the rumor started either, so this post was a learning experience for me as well. Tales such as these are scary, and some believe want to go on believing what they wish, despite facts provided that prove their theories wrong.

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  7. PM/Linda bought property where I first lived,he brought up all his children there...still has the family home,and often seen in the local shops/towns......so as I mentioned having never heard this 'rubbish' before......unless the real one was taken off by little green men,and a clever substitute put in place fooling all us locals........!!!!! mmmmmm

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    Replies
    1. The people who believe such rumors likely also believe in little green men as well. How neat that he still shows up in local shops in that town. I can only imagine what it would be like bumping into him in a grocery shop!

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