The Mystery of Abbey Road


Photo Credit: Iain Macmillan

The iconic Abbey Road album cover featuring John Lennon in white, Ringo Starr dressed in black, Paul McCartney without shoes, and George Harrion in denim.

Moesha Aplicano-Burnham, reporter

Musicians have always had a strong influence on their audience. From Elvis Presley to Beyonce, music has always been important to people, but there were a few bands and artists who were so talented and loved, they’re still remembered and appreciated today. The Beatles, without a doubt, were a very influential band. They were also incredibly popular, and with their popularity came controversy and conspiracy. From songs about drugs to unnerving album covers involving plastic babies and raw meat, the Beatles had their fair share of controversial events and theories. 

Among the many, one popular conspiracy about The Beatles was that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966 in a car crash after angrily leaving a recording session for ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in the early morning hours of November 9th. This theory can be traced back to 1969, but has grown significantly over the years. 

The person who theorists believe “replaced” Paul McCartney is said to be a man named William Campbell Shears, or “Billy” Shears. This theory came from the song ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, when Paul McCartney introduced “Billy Shears”, which many people took as a hint to who had replaced McCartney, even though the fictional persona “Billy Shears” was meant to be Ringo. The Beatles were clearly just acting as an alter ego. Many people believe that they created ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ as a way to be able to experiment musically without jeopardizing the success of their band. 

One commonly analyzed piece of evidence is the cover of the album ‘Abbey Road’. Each member of the band is said to represent the parts of a funeral procession, and Paul McCartney is barefoot, leading people to believe that he represents the corpse. 

At the end of the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, John Lennon can be heard mumbling something that sounds like “I buried Paul”. However, Lennon has claimed that he actually said “Cranberry Sauce”, which many theorists portray as equally strange. 

This isn’t the only theory that is related to an album cover. The ‘Beatles Magical Mystery Tour’ cover features McCartney as a black walrus, which is said to represent death in some cultures, although sources that support that claim are scarce.

Overall, this idea that Paul McCartney is dead is unlikely to be true. Most pieces of evidence rely on “hints” that the band has released, but if the band was, in fact, trying to cover up his death there’s no logical reason for them to give hints to their fans to try and confirm his death. Most hints are superficial and are hard to find any reliable sources to support evidence. It’s an interesting theory that makes you contemplate whether or not the iconic band was hiding something, but the reality is that it’s extremely unlikely that Paul McCartney was replaced by a lookalike.