The informant is taking a class at USC on the Beatles and recently learned about an urban legend surrounding the group. The legend is that Paul died in a car crash somewhere between 1967 and 1969 and was replaced by a double so as not to stop the Beatles’ success. Because the Beatles were so popular at the time, this was a huge story and many devoted fans went hunting for clues to solve this supposed mystery. One radio DJ claimed to have found proof when he played the song “Revolution 9” backwards live on the air and it appeared to be saying “Turn me on, dead man”. This was taken by many to be definitive proof of the other Beatles subliminally hinting at Paul’s death. Still, there were other examples cited. For example, in the song “Strawberry Fields Forever”, John is heard saying something that sounds like, “I buried Paul”. Also, the iconic cover of their album Abbey Road, which came out right after these rumors were started, was thought to be a metaphor for Paul’s funeral. John is in front, dressed in white like a preacher, Ringo in black as the undertaker, Paul barefoot, symbolizing how he would be buried, and George in denim work clothes as the gravedigger.
Although the legend is now mostly defunct because it was proven that Paul is indeed with us, it is still talked about. Now, people joke about how ridiculous it was, but people took it very seriously. It seems that there are still rumors of celebrity deaths that turn out to be hoaxes fairly often. I believe this is somewhat fueled by our media-driven culture. Magazines, newspapers, and TV news are constantly looking for the most sensational story. Any time someone famous dies, it is in the news for weeks, if not months. Beyond that, if the legend were true, it would imply a very complex and high-ranking conspiracy on the part of the Beatles and their record company. I believe these two factors are why celebrity death stories, especially Paul McCartney’s, are so fascinating and lead to such a great deal of speculation.