The Paul is Dead (PID) "rumor" began after fans noticed the Beatles had changed drastically seemingly overnight. For example, in March 1967, many audience members on the Dick Clark show commented on the Beatles "new look," which was introduced in the promotional video for “Strawberry Fields Forever.” 1 Some complained that the Beatles looked “old” and “ugly.” In October 1967, during the filming for the "Magical Mystery Tour" movie in Nice, France, McCartney and Malcolm (“Mal”) Evans “were refused entry to the hotel restaurant because they didn't look the part." 2
Not only did the Beatles look different, they also acted differently (including becoming reclusive) to such an extent that fans sensed that there was something terribly wrong with the formerly happy-go-lucky Fab Four. After the lads returned from their summer 1966 U.S. tour, manager Brian Epstein publicly announced (on or about September 11, 1966) that the band would never play live again. Keeping Paul and the others out of the spotlight seemed deeply troubling because it was such a radical break with the past.
Some grew suspicious that something was amiss with the group. Cynthia Lennon herself noted that this was a time of “tremendous ... mental and physical change for the Beatles” 3 People began to whisper that Paul had died in a car crash, and the new Paul ("Faul") was keeping up appearances.
The rumor of Paul’s death raged on, and before long, it was rampant around London. In February 1967, the Beatles Book Monthly, the Beatles' official fan club magazine issue #43, responded with the following refutation:
... 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... 4
Despite the Beatles Fan Club’s reassurances, fears that Paul was dead lingered. In the fall of 1968, someone approached Rolling Stone magazine about a list of McCartney death clues. Rolling Stone was not interested at the time because “too many people had seen Paul alive and it was the same old Paul...” 5
However, talk of Beatle Paul's death was so widespread that McCartney “was asked a thousand times” if he were “Paul or his clone” to which he prepared a ready-made answer: ‘I am neither Paul nor his clone, but I went out last night with your wife.’” 6 McCartney added “But it was a bit strange, because people started to look at me like, 'Is it really him or a very good double?' No, this is him!" 7
The rumor returned with a vengeance in September 1969. Adding fuel to the fire were a slew of clues to the switcheroo that fans gleaned from Beatles' lyrics, photos, and album covers. These were first exposed in a college newspaper article, and then picked up by a Detroit radio station before breaking worldwide with extensive coverage on all major TV and print media. By October 1969, people all over the world were crying over Paul McCartney. Many were convinced that he was dead.
More to come...
1 American Bandstand, March 11, 1967, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysG6GN9n3nE or http://www.jojoplace.org/Shoebox/dickclarka.mpg
2 "Mal Evans," available at http://beatlesnumber9.com/mal.html.
3 “The years 1966-67 were tremendous years of mental and physical change for the Beatles.” Cynthia Lennon, A Twist of Lennon, Avon Books, 1980, p. 145; Alan Glenn, “‘Paul is Dead!’ (said Fred),” November 11, 2009, available at http://michigantoday.umich.edu/2009/11/story.php?id=7565&tr=y&auid=5578331; Brian Moriarty, “Who Buried Paul?,” from a presentation on March 17, 1999, available at http://ludix.com/moriarty/paul.html; Paul McCartney è morto davvero, Interactive Media, 21/7/2009, available at http://www.tgcom.mediaset.it/spettacolo/articoli/articolo455762.shtml; Paul McCartney is really dead, Interactive Media, 21/7/2009, available at http://tinyurl.com/ngp29e
4 Beatles Book Monthly was the magazine of the official Beatles Fan Club. Brian Moriarty, “Who Buried Paul?,” from a presentation on March 17, 1999, available at http://ludix.com/moriarty/paul.html; Jim Yoakum, “Man Who Killed Paul McCartney,” Gadfly May/June 2000, available at http://www.gadflyonline.com/archive/MayJune00/archive-mccartney.html; Alan Glenn, “‘Paul is Dead!’ (said Fred),” November 11, 2009, available at http://michigantoday.umich.edu/2009/11/story.php?id=7565&tr=y&auid=5578331
5 John Burks, “A Pile of Money on Paul's 'Death',” Rolling Stone, 11-29-69, p. 10, available at http://www.turnmeondeadman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=12.
6 “Paul McCartney: A new Interview in an italian newspaper,” MaccaBlog, November 25, 2009, available at http://www.maccablog.co.uk/news.php?news=6524.
7 “Macca still laughing off 40-year-old death hoax,” 2009 WLNR 13648569, 7/17/09 Hindustan Times , July 17, 2009, available at http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/celebrity/macca-still-laughing-off-40-year-old-death-hoax_35418.html.
Tina Foster is the author of
Email Tina at faulconandsnowjob at hotmail dot com.