In 1967, people started noticing something was wrong - that "Paul" seemed somehow different. A rumor went around England that Paul had died in a car accident. The February 1967 (#43) issue of The Beatles Monthly Book, the Beatles' official fan club magazine, responded to the rumor:
Stories about the Beatles are always flying around Fleet Street. The 7th of January was very icy, with dangerous conditions on the M1 motorway, linking London with the Midlands, and towards the end of the day, a rumor swept London that Paul McCartney had been killed in a car crash on the M1. But, of course, there was absolutely no truth in it at all. As the Beatles' Press Officer found out, when he telephoned Paul's St. John's Wood home and was answered by Paul himself, that he had been at home all day with his black Mini Cooper safely locked up in the garage.
The "rumor" resurfaced when Tim Harper, student at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, writes an article entitled "Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?" for the Drake Times-Delphic student paper. Harper was reporting the latest West Coast college gossip -- that Paul McCartney had died in a car crash, perhaps as far back as 1966. Six days later, Barb Ulvilden recounts the rumor in Northern Illinois University's Northern Star. [Source: How did the "Paul is dead" rumor begin?]
On September 17th , 1969 The Drake Times-Delphic published what is widely considered the first printed account of Beatle Paul McCartney’s supposed death. Days after Drake undergrad Tim Harper asked the question “Is Paul Dead?” on the TD’s front page, college papers across the country ran with the story and the theory of “Paul is Dead!” raced across America.
Bart Schmidt, "It was 40 Years Ago, Yesterday…," September 18, 2009. Here is the first page of the article:
On October 12, 1969, the "rumor" picked up steam when "Tom" called into Russ Gibb's Detroit radio show saying Paul was dead.
Tom Zarski, a student at Eastern Michigan University, calls WKNR in Detroit, MI, and informs DJ Russ Gibb of the rumor, on-air. Zarski tells Gibb that by playing a section of the band's "Revolution 9" backwards, a clue emerges: the phrase "Turn me on, dead man."
[Source: How did the "Paul is dead" rumor begin?]
Fred LaBour, entertainment reviewer for the University of Michigan student newspaper The Michigan Daily, writes an article on Abbey Road entitled "McCartney Dead; New Evidence Brought to Light," which was published on October 14, 1969. [Source: How did the "Paul is dead" rumor begin?] "Cluesters" started finding a lot of what seemed to be backwards messages and other clues in songs and on album covers.
The press took note, and on October 21, 1969, the London Times published its own report on PID. The next day, both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times cover the story. [Source: How did the "Paul is dead" rumor begin?]
LIFE magazine sent a reporter to the remote Scottish farmhouse to interview "Paul," which appeared in the November 7, 1969 issue. As told by Brian Moriarty:
Alerted by the barking of his sheepdog Martha, Paul ran out of his barn and starting screaming at the reporters for trespassing, threatening them with arrest and physical violence.
The photographer, Robert Graham, began taking pictures of Paul's temper tantrum, and got soaked with a bucket of water.
The Life team then retreated by running away down the road.
Sitting in his kitchen a few minutes later, Paul recognized the likely consequences of what he had just done.
He jumped into his Land Rover, caught up with the soggy reporters, and invited them in for a warm cup of tea.
After a bit of discussion, they cut a deal.
Paul agreed to give the Life correspondents a worldwide exclusive interview.
In return, Robert Graham agreed to give Paul the film in his camera.
[Source: Who Buried Paul]
[click image to see full spread]
If one carefully reads this "rebuttal," Faul says:
Anyway all of the things that have been, that have made these rumours, to my mind have very ordinary, logical explanations. To the people’s minds who prefer to think of them as rumours, then I am not going to interfere, I am not going to spoil that fantasy.[/B] You can think of it like that if you like. However, if the end result, the conclusion you reach is that I am dead, then you are wrong, because I am very much alive, I am alive and living in Scotland.
[Source: 1969 Year in Review]
Read this line again: "To the people’s minds who prefer to think of them as rumours, then I am not going to interfere, I am not going to spoil that fantasy." Faul is not going to interfere with the people who think of PID as a "rumor." He isn't going to "spoil that fantasy" that Paul is "still with us."
The reporter asked if he were still alive, but he should have asked if he were the *real* Paul McCartney. Of course, Faul was alive!
Also, as you can see from the spread, the earliest picture of "Paul" was from 1967. Earlier pictures of Paul are noticeably absent.
Here is a video of the reporter interacting with "Paul" at the isolated farmhouse in Scotland:
Paul is Dead: Rotten Apple 34d
Notice how fake the accent sounds when Faul says, "I am alive and living in Scotland."