The Great Hoax: The Beatles Death Curse

Stars never actually fall. Especially rock stars. They stay alive not only in the fans’ memories, however, when they do die, as prescribed by nature; the rumour that they are certainly still alive is undoubtedly and strangely raised. The ‘star’ made it intentionally: he or she, just wanted to retire to private life or hide from something. Look at Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Michael Jackson. It is all fake: they are still alive.

On the contrary, for what concerns Paul McCartney, we notice the opposite phenomenon. He is thought to be dead. Even if he seems to be alive.

November 6, 1966. Paul steps out of the EMI building in London, seemingly disappointed, he enters his car and he quickly leaves the place. Something must have happened with the other Beatles, a hard confrontation or an argument. Paul is tired but, while driving back home, he meets Rita on the way, a young girl looking for a lift. Rita is definitely a bit too nervous and in an alcoholic state, she distracts Paul from driving and prevents him from realizing that the traffic light is still sadly and unavoidably red. Paul loses control of his car while trying to avoid another vehicle and hits a tree.

Something sparkles in the car: Rita dies all of a sudden and Paul literally loses his head, decapitated by a sharp piece of glass that exploded in the impact, as described in the song that completes the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Day in the Life.

The news reaches Paul’s friends that, after a first astonishing and desperate moment, they realize how serious and delicate the issue is. They have reached the top in their careers and cannot afford such a revolutionary and thrilling outcome. Therefore, supported by their manager Brian Epstein, they decide not to spread the news and replace Paul with a double.

This is just one of the uncountable stories related of McCartney’s death: a metropolitan legend also known as PID: Paul Is Dead, a story that is everyday fuelled by new and sometimes creepy details.

The information was provided by a radio in Detroit on the 12th of October 1969, 3 years after Paul’s ‘eventual’ death. The DJ Russell Gibb received a call from a guy named Tom who tells about the car crash and suggests to the listeners to carefully check all the Beatles’ works because, according to Tom, they are full of hidden messages concerning Paul’s death. One of the listeners of the program was Fred La Bour, a young student who wrote an article for his university’s magazine titled: Paul McCartney is dead. This shocking revelation soon passed the boundaries of the university campus and invaded the headlines of newspapers like New York Times, London Times, Variety and Washington Post.

In that period, the true-or-fake Paul McCartney was holidaying in Scotland with the family and let the news go by, without paying much attention. Since no denial had arrived, the news was spread worldwide, the fans were simply driven crazy and the hunt for some evidences concerning his death started. According to several rumours, the Beatles chose an ex policeman called William Campbell, whose traits were oddly similar to Paul’s, to replace the dead singer. This was an important turning point for the Beatles, so they decided not to perform live any more, but some bad mouths claimed they just wanted avoid public confrontation.

The believers noticed how the “new” Paul was taller than the “old” one, he had a different haircut and they spotted some nearly visible scars on McCartney’s lips and cheeks, which would definitely confirm the ‘exchange’. Also the vocal and physiochemical differences between the pre-1966 and the post-1966 Paul were multiplied exponentially.

After hiding Paul’s death the other regretful Beatles would have hidden some weirdly occult signals in their albums, in order to reveal the actual truth: more than 400 alleged pieces of evidence were traced. Uncountable details in hundreds of pictures included in the albums were noticed.

In one of these pictures McCartney was sitting opposite the words ‘I was’ and was possible to spot two flags behind him, a clear mourning sign. Another photo pictures Paul laying in a trunk that seen from another angle might resemble a coffin. On the cover of Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul is represented in a different way from the other musicians: he is depicted in profile or from behind.

In SPLHCB, he holds a black oboe in his hands, while the other Beatles’ instruments are golden; he has a black flower popping out of his pocket, while George, Ringo and John’s flowers are red. He also shows three letters on his arm, OPD: Officially Pronounced Dead. The cover of Abbey Road shows a white Volkswagen plated LMW 28 IF, that was often interpreted as Linda McCartney Widowed, 28 if, which means Paul would have been 28 years old at the time of the release of the LP.

Finally, there is another element to consider, probably the most amusing and weird one: listening some Beatles’ songs in reverse can reveal some disturbing sentences like Paul is dead, man, miss him, miss him and I buried Paul. The discovery of these evidences is very complex, almost a puzzle game.

To read a certain phrase on the cover of SPLHCB it is necessary to put a mirror in the very middle of the image, cutting it into two halves. This operation will reveal a bad English sentence: he dies. Or it is necessary to turn the cover of Magical Mystery Tour upside down, in order to read a phone number that might hold some further information about McCartney’s death. The only effect of this was that some users had to change their land line number, bombarded by fans’ request for news.

Paul McCartney tried to limit the over-spill of the legend: on the 7th of November 1969, a very detailed article, called Paul is still with us, appeared on the magazine Life, where the singer blames the people who raised the rumours concerning his death. It was definitely too late: the PID fanatics would even use that denial as the trigger for a treasure hunt and noticed that one of the photos of the essay pictured Paul with an open hand behind his head (as appears on the cover of SPLHCB), a death symbol, according to some obscure oriental tradition. In 1993 the album Paul is Live was released and its cover recalls Abbey Road’s cover. There is the very same white Volkswagen on the left, but this time its plate says 51 IS, he is 51.

It is undoubtedly impossible to struggle against PID though recent Italian physiognomic research revealed there are many cases of anthropometrical and craniometrical incongruence between Paul’s picture taken before 1966 and those that were taken after his alleged car crash. Therefore, they are supposed to be two different people.

The story goes on anyway. It will be curious to discover how it will develop when -hopefully in a hundred years time- a natural death will unavoidably come to McCartney. Things will probably rebalance then and someone will start saying he’s still alive…