40th Anniversary of Paul Is Dead Rumor (almost)

Magazines have begun to note the 40th anniversary of the Paul is Dead rumor (although they're two months early... the rumor began to circulate widely in September 1969).

Contact Music managed to get a quotation from McCartney about the rumor. He claims to still be laughing it off. But interestingly, he also get the details wrong about how the rumor started:

MCCartney's barefoot appearance in the photo [on the cover of Abbey Road] sparked wild rumours the rocker had died in a car crash - and the 67 year old admits he still has to reassure some fans he's not an impostor.
He explains, "The idea was to walk across the crossing, and I showed up that day with sandals, flip-flops. It was so hot that I kicked them off and walked across barefooted, and this started some rumour that because he's barefooted, he's dead. I couldn't see the connection.

McCartney barefoot on the cover of Abbey Road was one of the major clues that fueled the rumor, but it didn't spark the rumor. The event that really launched the rumor was when Detroit DJ Russ Gibb played the song "Revolution Number Nine" backwards on his show and claimed to hear the words "Turn me on, dead man."

There's been several books and a number of scholarly articles written about the Paul is Dead rumor. I wonder if McCartney has ever read them.

Death Music Urban Legends

Posted on Fri Jul 17, 2009


It's sort of ironic that there's still so much interest in the rumor that Paul is dead, when (so far as I can determine) Paul McCartney, now a senior citizen, is still alive, while John Lennon and George Harrison really are dead (unless they faked their own deaths: see Elvis, Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison, et al). McCartney has apparently never even claimed to be dead.

At least the rumor doesn't seem to have hurt McCartney's career. In this, he's been much luckier than Thomas A. Harris, the author of "I'm OK, You're OK." A few years after this extremely popular book on how to be happy and mentally healthy was published, rumors circulated that Dr. Harris had comitted suicide. He found that the widespread conviction that he was dead seriously affected his ability to get speaking engagements and book contracts. Harris sued some of the propagators of this rumor, but by the time he really died (I think), in 1995, he hadn't managed to convince the general public that he never killed himself.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Liverpool, Texas  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  09:23 AM
I've always wondered about the people who used to spin records backwards looking for anything.

While it is possible to do the same now with sound files on a computer (ever try to spin a CD backwards?), I can't recall hearing anything lately about those "secret messages" that used to be rampant on that old vinyl.
Posted by KDP  in  Madill, OK  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  12:15 PM
I can't recall hearing anything lately about those "secret messages" that used to be rampant on that old vinyl smile
Posted by ivan  in  http://xytor.com  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  12:16 PM
Just yesterday I fell for a report that Aishwarya Rai was killed in a car accident. According to Google, that story circulates about every three years. There are a number of celebrities like that, it seems.
Posted by Whittier  in  Minneapolis  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  12:54 PM
The Paul is dead rumor must have been an issue for the Beatles before they recorded the White Albulm (where Revolution 9 appears).

Lennon's song Glass Onion, also from the White Albulm, contains the lyric: "Here's another clue for you all/ The Walrus was Paul".
Posted by Fred  in  na gadda da vida  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  02:57 PM
The White Albulm a recorded in 1968, so the Paul is dead rumor was established well enough to get back to Lennon one year before DJ Gibb latched on to the craze in the summer of '69.
Posted by Fred  in  na gadda da vida  on  Fri Jul 17, 2009  at  03:29 PM
Let's see... the Eggman is dead, the Sun King is dead, the Walrus lives, and Ringo is still Ringo. Fab
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jul 18, 2009  at  10:42 AM
Actually the "Paul is Dead" rumor got started when Paul was recovering from a car accident on an impromptu at-home vacation in early 1967.

Whilst healing, Paul stayed away from the media, which led there to be plenty of speculation on what was really going on and if Paul was alive or dying.

One reporter stormed the grounds of Paul's estate for an interview, and Paul got very angry at him and ordered him to leave. As the reporter began to leave, Paul changed his mind, apologized and allowed an interview. This abrupt changing of his mind, plus his behaviour, caused as much speculation as anything else.

The main result of all this, besides the rumors of Paul having died and been replaced with a lookalike, was Paul's lip was cut in the accident, necessitating growing a moustache to cover it up, followed by the rest of the band doing so, then the Sgt. Pepper look, and finally, people growing their hair all long and becoming hippies.
Posted by Eric  on  Sat Jul 18, 2009  at  08:47 PM
What really showed he is really really very dead is that his feet were not thouching the road.
*nods his head in a knowing kinda way*
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Sun Jul 19, 2009  at  10:35 AM
Most if not all these celebrity death rumours are started by the satsr themsleves to promote something or to wriggle out of a commitment in some way - Like the whole 'Micheal Jackson is Dead' rubbish.
Posted by D F Stuckey  in  Auckland New Zealand  on  Tue Aug 11, 2009  at  12:17 AM
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