Remembering When Paul McCartney Was Dead
Today is Paul Is Dead Day. According to Paul Is Dead conspiracy theorists, singer Paul McCartney of the Beatles died on November 9, 1966,from massive head injuries sustained in an auto accident. He was replaced by orphan Billy Campbell, a dead ringer for Paul.
Rumors of Paul McCartney’s death began to circulate in 1969, a time when the strained relationships among the Beatles were becoming public knowledge. Written versions of this story first appeared in college newspapers in the fall of 1969, but the precise origin of the rumor is unknown. The story caught fire with the public when it was broadcast by a radio station in Detroit. Russ Gibb, a disc jockey for WKNR-FM, received a phone call and the caller told Gibb that Paul had died in 1966 and was then replaced by a lookalike. The Beatles had subsequently left clues on their albums about this deception. The caller claimed that the cover photo of Abbey Road, the Beatles’ most recent release at the time, represented a funeral procession with John as the minister, Ringo the undertaker, Paul the corpse, and George the gravedigger. Other Beatles album covers also contained clues, the caller claimed, and a few Beatles songs contained clues about Paul’s death—including some that could only be deciphered when the records were played backwards! Russ Gibb related the rumor of Paul’s death on the air, which brought a strong reaction from listeners and the story spread rapidly after that.