Paul is dead?!? by jimk@iscuva.ISCS.COM (Jim Kendall) jbh@hpcnoe.UUCP (Joel Hurmence) email@example.com (Jay Smith) firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean Gerencer) comments and editing by email@example.com (Charles McGrew) Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduced and edited by saki [email@example.com], 11 January 1993
For over twenty years the Paul Death Hoax has intrigued the masses of Beatles fans and fanatics alike. While it's impossible to point to an absolute point of origination, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Beatles themselves had anything to do with its genesis, although many claim that the Beatles intended it to be a joke on their fans. But the clues, which seem so cleverly arranged, are random coincidences or inaccurate interpretations of existing facts (to wit: John does *not* say "I buried Paul" at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever", he said by his own admission "cranberry sauce"...etc.) And all Beatles have denied that they were involved in any way with the hoax, John's denial being particularly fervent.
Recently several indications point more forcefully to an origination of the hoax in the American midwest, more specifically, Northern Illinois University. It may have been a college prank in late summer 1969, but evidence suggests that the "Northern Star" campus newspaper carried a list of clues (possibly based on a work by Fred LaBour, mentioned as the student who first explored the hoax in a class paper), which were shortly followed up by disc-jockey Russell Gibb of Detroit radio station WKNR-FM. A regular r.m.b. reader, who was not only a friend of Russ Gibb but was present in-studio the afternoon of the famous incident, recalls an "underground newspaper" (it may have been the college paper "Northern Star" or another publication) with a list of "Paul Is Dead" clues; Gibb and his cohorts were sufficiently inspired to read them on the air and to improvise new ones on the spot.
Gibb & Co. were astonished when local newspapers and reporters took their on-air joke seriously and spread the tale more widely. Some clues which have become part of established folklore, our reader reports, were invented that obscure day at WKNR-FM, but have since been accepted as part of the original hoax. Gibb and friends were not the source of the hoax, he emphasizes, but played a part in its initial dissemination.
By October 1969 the hoax was well entrenched, and even McCartney was forced to come out of seclusion at his Scottish farm to deny its veracity. Still, this gesture did little to dispel the growing mythologizing of Paul's "death", and over the years the hoax has taken on aspects of a bizarre, morbid parlor game, with new adherents convinced that the Beatles created their music already imbued with secret elements indended for the clever capabilities of tenacious trivia-buffs.
Popular Culture Ink., a publishing firm which deals with Beatles books, announced late in 1992 that they will bring out a book (set tentatively for release in 1993) detailing the history and clues of the hoax. This may be of some interest to all.
It all started in October of *1969*....Paul McCartney was dead, or so it was rumored. The story started when a capricious student wrote his term paper on the subject (possibly U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor; it has also been reported that a U. of Illinois school newspaper reported the same information as early as August 1969, not necessarily from a term paper). Well, the college paper was duly impressed and promptly repinted it in their tabloid. From there, WKNR radio in Detriot picked up the story and their program coordinator, Russ Gibb, broadcast it to the rest of the unsuspecting world.
The story was based on "clues" from record sleeves, songs, etc. that "proved" Paul had been killed in a car crash in November *1966*. Researchers "discovered" that a crash had occured around that time which involved a young dark haired male who was disfigured beyond recognition. Then the Beatles, in the winter of 1966, held a "Paul look alike" contest but no winner was ever announced. BUT - there was a winner....his name was William [one person said Richard] Campbell, and he was paid a considerable amount of money to play along with the facade - he was to be the NEW Paul. He supposedly looked enough like PM to sit in with the other Beatles for photographs, sometimes even fooling the photographers. Strangely, nothing was ever heard of William Campbell again. His picture is included on the poster that came with the White album in the lower right-hand corner. Looks like Paul with glasses, mustache, and combed back hair. William Campbell has this faint scar on his upper lip, PM doesn't (though Paul---the real one---got the scar from his motorcycle accident in 1966.)
Since that day, the Beatles supposedly started putting clues on their album sleeves and even in their music so that their poor fans would find them and thus the shock of Paul's untimely death would be assuaged.
Or so the story goes---and do remember it *is* just a story.
Some of the clues:
Paul looks like he's in a coffin in the cover shot. "Yesterday and Today" was released in mid 1966 (supposedly just prior to Pauls demise) with the famous "Butcher Cover". As we all know, these albums were recalled just after they were released (rigth after Paul died) and 'pasted over' with the now familiar 'Trunk Cover'. This was done not because the buying public was outraged at the original "Butcher" cover (as was 'officially' announced by Capitol) but because the cover too closely depicted the carnage that occured in that deadly 'car crash' and the Beatles themselves demanded that Capitol remove it from the market. Capitol, being the understanding souls that they are, immediately recalled all of the albums and promptly started destroying them. Then the Beatles, in their anguish, quite suddenly came up with startling realization as well as a brilliant idea. They realized that without Paul they were dead as a group and from that came the brilliant idea of the 'fake Paul' contest winner and the 'cover-up' clues in their music and on their album covers. Then George had a sickening thought. In his minds eye he saw all of those 'Butcher Albums' going up in the flames of the Capitol records furnaces. He thought "What could be a better clue than to hide Paul's death symbolically by 'covering up' the 'Butcher' picture?" With that he rushed to the phone, called Capitol records and ordered them to stop the burning and to re-cover the remaining albums with the new 'Trunk' cover.
This is the alleged reason "Beatlegate" started and the real reason for the 'Butcher" album cover-up.
Butcher album Clues:
The title "Yesterday and Today" symbolizes the controversy that was to start "Yesterday" and still be un-resolved even "Today".
All of the doll parts are resting on Paul except the one doll head that George is holding up. [ Actually, both dolls' bodies are resting on two Beatles - one on John/Paul, the other on Ringo/Paul.]. This is two clues in one -
The false teeth on Paul's right forearm indicate that his teeth were knocked out in the crash and dental identification was impossible thus leading to the 'young white male - disfigured beyond
recognition' article that researchers located. [Though of course no one has ever actually located such an article!]
And, of course, the previously mentioned symbolic 'coffin' on
the 'Trunk' cover.
Nowhere Man: "He's a real nowhere man.." "..doesn't
have a point of view, knows not where he's going to.." "..you
don't know what you're missing, nowhere man can you see me at
Dr. Robert: "..you're a new and better man.." "..he does everything he can, Dr. Robert.." (William is the new man. Nothing Dr. Robert can do will bring Paul back)
Yesterday: .."oh I believe in yesterday, suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be, there's a shadow hanging over me. Yesterday came suddenly.."
And Your Bird Can Sing: "..you can't see me, you can't see me.." "..you can't hear me, you can't hear me.."
[Of course this album should have been recorded with the 'real' Paul, so lyrical clues in this album are bogus.]
(movie) Hard Day's Night: aerial sequence of the "Can't Buy Me Love" romp, director Richard Lester runs around instead of Paul. Also, there was a major scene between Paul and an actress cut from the movie (presumably Paul was unavailable). [Of course,
HDN was filmed in 1964, so Paul must have died even eariler!] [If you look carefully at the Field Scene, Paul is there in every shot with the others, except the last one where George says "Sorry we hurt your field, Mister." Paul was reportedly hung over and couldn't face the camera for that shot. Also, is you've ever read the screenplay for AHDN, you'll know why the "Shakespeare" sequence was omitted---it was horribly written!]
(movie) There was a third movie in the works for the Beatles in late 1966 after HDN and Help, but it was canceled when Paul died and Billy Campbell was unready to appear before the searching eye of the camera. John spent the time appearing in Richard Lester's "How I Won the War", while 'Paul' composed music for the film "The Family Way" (performed by George Martin and a BBC orchestra).
The Soul is in the shape of a heart, indicating a "false soul" amongst them. The Beatles are peering downwards (in/at a grave?!). Lyrics:
I've Just Seen A Face: "..had it been another day I
might've looked the other way, and I'd have never been
Girl: "..that a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure/will she still believe it when he's dead.."
I'm Looking through You: "..I'm looking through you, where did you go? I thought I knew you, what did I know. You don't look different but you have changed, I'm looking through you, you're not the same.." "..your lips are moving I can not hear, you don't sound different I've learned the game.." "..you were above me but not today, the only difference is you're
down there.." [Paul actually wrote this about a fight he had with Jane Asher.]
In My Life: "..all these places have their moments ... some are dead and some are living, in my life I love you more.."
On the cover, Paul's name is sideways, as if it didn't fit in
with the other Beatles any more.
Taxman: "..if you drive a car Paul.." "..if you get
too cold Paul.." "..my advice to those who die, taxman!" (see
your taxidermist) [Actually the lyric is: "If you drive a
car...*ohhhhh*"...but why be accurate when you're trying to
amass clues? :-) ]
Eleanor Rigby: "..father McKenzie (McCartney?) writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear.." "..was buried.." "..father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks
from the grave, no one was saved.." [Paul has said he originally wrote it as "Father McCartney" but thought his dad Jim Mac would be embarrassed or offended.]
Yellow Submarine: "..in the land of submarines.." "..sky of blue, sea of green in our yellow submarines.." (nice term for a casket that's underneath a sea of green grass)
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.."
Got To Get You Into My Life: "..I was alone I took a ride I didn't know what I would find there.." "..and then suddenly I see you.." (lovely Rita meter maid) [This is stretching it!]
Tommorow Never Knows: "..laid down all thoughts surrendered to
the void.." "..Paul played the game existence to the end.." [Of course it's: "*All* play the game...."]
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Sgt. Pepper cover depicts a funeral for "The Beatles" (written in flowers over the grave). There is also a bass guitar made up of flowers. Closer inspection of this "bass guitar" shows that the flowers that make it up actually spell "PAUL?" indicating his questioned existance. [ Everyone involved with the cover swears that the guitar idea was a spur-of-the-moment thing by the florist Apple hired to arrange the flowers, and that its just a guitar.] There are three strings on the guitar, to symbolize the three remaining 'real' beatles. There is also a raised hand behind Paul's head which is the Indian sign for death as well as the four armed "Shiva" in the lower portion of the photo who is pointing its left back hand at Paul. A doll sits off to the side (Jane Asher?!) with red lines (blood) running down her dress. A small car sits on her lap, a model of the car PM was driving. Paul has his back to the camera on the back of the album as well as wearing a patch that reads "OPD" (officially pronounced dead in Canada) on his left arm in the center spread. Hmm, looks like William Campbell again! He always sports a mustache or slight beard. On the back cover George is pointing at the lyric "Wednesday morning at five o'clock", indicating the time of Paul's death. Paul's head just touches the title of "Within you *Without you" George is pointing a "sixth" finger at him, a sign of ill-omen. If you read across the back cover, from left to right, you can find all sorts of clues. Starting with "Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly" (from Lucy), continue reading across "Wednesday Morning at five o'clock as the day begins", "life flows on within you and without you", "you're on your own you're in the street". One last note, the paper sleeve that held the vinyl record looked like it had been standing in, soaking up blood! At the bottom it's bright red but then fades into a light pink at the top. Subsequent releases of this album did not have the red-faded-into-pink color scheme on the inner sleeve. Lyrics:
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band: "..so let me
introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears and Sgt.
Pepper's lonely heart's club band.." (Sgt. Pepper's Band is
actually an idea taken from history (somewhere) where a man
was able to take the place of another man without anyone
catching on) [This is not attested in the Beatles literature
Fixing A Hole: "..and it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right where I belong. See the Beatles standing there, they disagree.." "..silly Beatle run around.." (William is adjusting to his new role as PM) [Except it's "Silly *people*..."]
She's Leaving Home: "..Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins.." (the time of the supposedly fatal accident)
Lovely Rita: "..standing by a parking meter when I caught a
glimpse of Rita.." (he took his eyes off the road!) [But doesn't the syntax indicate that *Paul* was doing the standing too? Neat trick to drive and stand on the street at the same time!]
Good Morning, good Morning: "..nothing to do to save his life.." "..and you're on your own you're in the street.." "..people running around it's 5 o'clock.." "..watching the skirts you start to flirt, now you're in gear.."
A Day In The Life: "..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.." [The album lyrics say 'House of Lords']
Inner Groove - on side 2, on the British release, an infinitely-repeating groove (i.e. the needle never went to the inside of the record) contains gibberish that, played backwards, said "Will Paul come back as Superman?" (or
alternately, "We'll fuck you like Supermen!") [Or maybe it's just somebody's wild idea that it says that. :-) ]
Magical Mystery Tour
Paul is dressed as a [black] "Walrus" on the MMT album which, according to the Lewis Carroll story, ate oysters and died; the walrus is a sign of death in certain cultures [In the booklet, John says he is the walrus, but little Nicola says, "no you're not". On Page 5, a group shot shows the Walrus at the piano, which in other shots is John ]. Inside the album on page three of the booklet, Paul is shown sitting behind a desk with placard [closer examination shows its a bumper sticker] in front of him that reads "I WAS" [or "I You Was", or "I was you", depending on how you read it]. Also looks like Campbell again, you can see the scar on his lip here. Page 15 has a cartoon of Paul playing with a car on his desk. On page 18 and on the last page of the booklet there's that open palm again above PM's head. Paul is shown in several of the shots without any shoes on [but wearing socks, which is why its not so noticable] and in one picture it actually looks like there is blood on his shoes (Page 13 - he's not wearing them in the picture - they are sitting off to the side). There are several shots of him with a raised hand behind his head. Towards the end of the booklet, Paul can be seen wearing a black carnation while the other Beatles are wearing red ones. [Like most of the pictures from this booklet, it comes from the movie - the "Your Mother Should Know" production number. Paul later explained this was due to a shortage of red carnations, and Paul had to take a black one because that's all they had.] John sings [says] "I buried Paul" on "Strawberry Fields Forever". The phrase 'I buried Paul' occurs at the end of Strawberry Fields Forever. It appears to have been slowed down, but it is quite clear. I believe that when asked about this line John at one time said the words were "cranberry sauce". [ If it is, there's a distinct pause between the first two sylables: "cran-berry sauce".] Another
counter-claim is that John says "I'm very bored". [Subsequent working versions available on Ultra Rare Tracks and the like make it *very clear* that the words are "cranberry sauce."] The word "Beatles" when held to a mirror is actually a phone number! The number is: 2317438. When my friends and I called this number way back then, we'd get this strange, cryptic message "You're getting closer.." and then the call would cut off abruptly. Others claimed it was Billy "Shears" Campbell's phone number. [These tales are apocryphal.]Lyrics:
I Am The Walrus: (no you're not! Said little Nicola.) "..I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus.." (eggmen represent "life", walrus represents death. Since PM is the walrus the meaning implied is that I have life, they have life, I am dead) "..bury me, bury me.." "..bury my body.." "..Paul you're darn near death!.." (yes, these last ones are debateable!)
Hello Goodbye: "..you say goodbye, I say hello.." (exit PM, enter WC)
Strawberry Fields Forever: "..I buried Paul.." (this infamous ending line by JL) [Except it's really "cran-berry sauce..."]
All You Need Is Love: "..No one you can save that can't be saved.." "..nothing you can see that isn't shown.." "..yes he's dead.." "..we loved you yeah, yeah, yeah.."
John shouts various naval orders on the song "Yellow Submarine" which includes the line "Paul's a queer". This is an attempt by John to turn Paul's fans against him so that his death wouldn't be taken so hard. Paul appears with a raised hand behind his head on the cover (the cartoon Paul, that is). The yellow submarine is pictured beneath the land, very stationary.
The movie has a couple of clues, one happens during the song
"All You Need Is Love" when John sings "..yes he's dead.." the
word "know" on the screen changes into the word "now" at the same
moment. [Debatable...sounds more like "Yes it is."]
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.."
['Northern' was the Beatles publishing company.]
Hey Bulldog: "..you think you know me but you haven't got a clue.."
Yellow Submarine: (see Revolver)
All You Need Is Love: (see Magical Mystery Tour)
When "Revolution #9" is played backwards, the "number 9...number 9 ...number 9" at the beginning translates to "turn me on, dead man.. ..turn me on, dead man" (BTW - try this out, it really does say this). [Yes, it does *seem* to say that.] And I've heard that the whole track can be interpreted as the story of Paul's auto accident and his later death in a hospital.
At the end of the "I'm So Tired" track, a bunch of seemingly
meaningless syllables are uttered. When you do the 'ol
classic backwards playback, you hear "Paul is dead now, miss
him, miss him." BTW, National Lampoon did a great audio spoof
on all this 'Paul is dead' stuff on an album called National
Lampoon Radio Dinner. You hard core Beatle fans will enjoy
it. [In it, Paul sings "Give Ireland Back to the Irish",
interrupted by gunfire and explosions at various points
through the album. After the last time, the announcer says,
"the preceeding was performed by the late Paul McCartney",
followed by 'Paul' saying "I'm dead".] In the fold-out poster
from the album, there's a picture of a Paul-looking-fellow
wearing a mustache and glasses - this is supposed to be
William Campbell. There's a shot of someone floating in a
bathtub, only his face is visible (no hair showing). This
might be representing Paul after the crash, but to me, it
looks like John. Pictures of Paul show a scar on his upper
lip that hadn't been seen before (i.e. only appearing on
Billy) - alternatively, it was from a (non-fatal) motorcycle
or scooter accident Paul had in late 1966, and hadn't been
seen before due to Paul's Sgt. Pepper-era mustache.
Glass Onion: "..I told you about Strawberry Fields.." "..well
here's another place you can go.." "..to see how the other
half live, looking through a glass onion.." "..I told you
about the walrus and me.." "..well here's another clue for you
all, the walrus WAS Paul.." "..I told you about the fool on
the hill.." "..listen to me, fixing a hole in the ocean.."
"..looking through a glass onion.." (a glass onion is a term
used for a coffin with a glass panel over the top so you can
see in) [Again unsubstantiated...but we're obligated to pass
on all the clues, no matter how silly.]
I'm So Tired: "..Paul's dead man, miss him miss him.." (what you hear when you play the very end of the song and the beginning of "Black Bird" backwards)
Mother Nature's Son: "..find me in my field of grass, Mother Nature's son.."
Revolution #9:"..his voice was low and his eye was high and
his eyes were closed.." "..Paul died.." "..my fingers are
broken and so is my hair, I'm not in the mood for wearing
clothing.." "..maybe even dead.." "..you become naked.."
(these are heard playing the song forward amongst other
things, the droning "number 9". McCartney has 9 letters in
"..get me out, get me out!.." "..turn me on dead man, turn me on dead man.." (these are heard playing the song backwards, there is a nasty car crash which catches fire, that's when you hear Paul screaming "get me out! get me out!". Curiously, the forward droning words "number 9, number 9" actually are the words "turn me on dead man" backwards) [ Other sources say that Revolution 9 was the work of John and Yoko, and that the whole song was Yoko's idea, an extension of her brand of art. John claimed the the engineer from EMI would say at the beginning of each take of a song, "This EMI Recording Studio Number 9" (or perhaps "EMI Test Tape Number 9", and John liked the sound of it and added it in. "Turn me on, dead man" was a mere coincidence, according to him, but John had experimented with backwards singing before, as in "Rain" - June 1966 - available on the Parlophone "Rarities" album.]
While My Guitar Gently Weeps: George calls out to Paul at the
end of the song. [Could also just be generic moaning: "Oh, oh, oh..."]
Don't Pass me By: "...you were in a car crash... and you lost your head" [lyric book says 'hair'.]
This album cover was the clincher. The front shows a funeral procession and depicts John as the preacher (in white), Ringo as the mourner (in black), George as the gravedigger (in work clothes) with Paul as the deceased. Paul is in bare feet, is out of step with the others, has his eyes closed, and is the only one shown smoking (a sure sign of death :-), holding a cigarette in his right hand when he is a left hander. The VW license says "28 IF" (Paul's age, had he lived. [Actually, he'd be 27 at the time of the cover, but this is covered by pointing out that in many Indian religions, one is considered 1 year old at the date of birth, and so he would in fact have been "28 IF"] ). On the back, a crack runs through "The Beatles" indicating a split in the group, and a glimpse of a woman (Rita?!) can be seen walking by. [Of course, this could symbolize the imminent breakup of the group.] There are three holes of very similar shape beneath the word "Beatles", signifying that there are really only three 'real' Beatles. To the left of the word, there is a curious pattern of circles cut in the stone - 4 are grouped together, but one is a different color (Billy), and one circle is the same color as three of the 4, but separate (Paul). Lyrics:
Come Together: "..he say I know you, you know me.."
"he got early warning.." "..he say one and one and one is
three. Got to be good looking cause he's so hard to see.."
(only 3 remaining Beatles). "here come old flattop" (no hair)
"He got Joo-Joo eyeballs" (replaced by the undertaker) "... he
one holy roller..." (in heaven) "... he got hair down below
his knees..." (hair growing after death)
You Never Give Me Your Money: "..one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, all good children go to heaven.."
The song "You Know My Name, Look Up The Number" was released on the flipside of "Let It Be" (45 rpm). This strange song has a cuckoo clock that "cuckoos" 5 quick times just before another phone number is read off. This number gave us the "Beware of Abbey Road" message each time we called.
The picture above the Beatles on top of the doorway they are standing in front of is a picture of where Paul is supposed to be buried. Lyrics:
Lady Madonna: "..Wednesday morning papers didn't
come.." (they were recalled, remember?)
Revolution: "..don't you know it's gonna be -all right, Paul died, all right.." (a couple of those "all rights" sound just like "Paul died", also a background vocal occasionally dubs in Paul died)
None of the above is intended to be true or accurate since Paul is, obviuosly alive and well in Scotland or Tucson or somewhere. It's entirely for your amusement, if you like these sorts of grim statistics. Be aware, too, that there is no evidence to prove that the Beatles "played along" with the "clues." They were near breakup at the time the "clues" became an issue and would have had (believe me) *no* interest in having a little joke of this kind.
What this exercise shows best is that it's relatively easy to "prove" a series of unrelated facts are hallmarks of hidden wisdom. It's just as easy to put together a set of clues proving that none of the Beatles ever sang a note, or were impersonated by the royal family, or predicted the end of the world on July 22, 1990. All it takes is a little imaginative game-playing.
Oh yeah, almost forgot. The song "I'll Follow The Sun" has some hints of what was to come when Paul sings: "..someday, you'll look to see I've gone.." [But Paul wrote this in 1960! Is *that* how far back this nonsense goes? :-) ] Click here to return to the rmb home page.
Click here to return to saki's index.