Gary James' Interview With The Producer Of
Paul McCartney Is Dead, The Last Testament Of George Harrison
In 1969, an incredible story circulated around the world. That story was Paul McCartney had died in a car crash in November of 1966. Paul surfaced to say "Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." People laughed, the story was declared a hoax and the world moved on. Then in the summer of 2005, a package arrived at the Hollywood offices of Highway 61 Entertainment from London with no return address. Inside were two mini-cassette audio tapes dated December 30, 1999 and labeled The Last Testament Of George Harrison. A voice eerily similar to George Harrison tells a shocking story. Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in November of 1966 and replaced with a double!
British Intelligence, MI5, had forced The Beatles to cover up Paul's death to prevent mass suicides of Beatle fans. However, the remaining Beatles started leaving clues about Paul's death in songs and on album covers. Highway 61 Entertainment has released a DVD containing those clues, the George Harrison tapes and how this story has been kept from the public. Titled Paul McCartney Is Dead, The Last Testament Of George Harrison, Joel Gilbert talked with us about the film.
Q - Highways 61 is a film company?
A - Highway 61 Entertainment is the name of my production company, an independent feature film production company that I own and operate.
Q - Before this Paul McCartney DVD, what else had you released?
A - I've produced four documentary feature films on Bob Dylan's career. Different parts of his career, chronologically really. I've also produced two Middle East documentaries, as well as the Paul McCartney documentary.
Q - So, when this package arrived at your offices from London, who would have opened it up, someone in the mailroom? Was it addressed to some executive?
A - It was actually put on my desk because it was such a strange looking package. It wasn't typical bills or regular mail that the secretary would open. It looked like such an interesting package, I think she thought perhaps it was something I was expecting, which I was not. I simply thought it was someone sending a few DVDs or something or that nature. I opened it up and it was a very strange experience.
Q - Initially, did you listen to all the tapes enclosed?
A - At first it looked so strange and mysterious, we weren't sure if it was playing some kind of a joke or someone was playing some kind of practical joke or maybe it was a promotional gag of some kind. There was just no way of knowing. So the first thing we did is kind of put it aside and said "does anybody have a tape recorder that can play these mini-cassette tapes?" This is the type of recorder that we used to have on our answering machines maybe fifteen years ago. Nobody said they still have that at home. Everyone is on digital. We actually found in the package this mini-cassette player, but there was no batteries and it didn't seem to work that well. So, we had to find a way to get the tapes to play. It's not that we sat and listened to it right away or even knew what it was or thought it was a promotional gag of some sort. We just didn't know. So it was probably a good few days before we sat and listened to it and then thought, could this be real? What is this? Once the voice was so haunting and interesting and the story was so compelling, we had it transcribed. It's pretty tedious to listen to the whole thing for an hour and a half. We had it transcribed so we could really sit down and look at some of the story and what was being said. We'll check it against some facts and things we did know about. So, that's kind of how it evolved over a couple of weeks to kind of get a handle on what it was and that it was something legitimate that we could then take this next step further and check out some of the facts and even the voice against George Harrison's voice.
Q - I know there are machines out there that can measure a voice against someone's known voice. I don't know if that technology is only available through the F.B.I. or not. Did you try to match up the voice on the tapes mailed to you with say George's voice in A Hard Day's Night or an interview he did?
A - We did attempt that. We did not take it to the level of an F.B.I. forensic lab in Washington, D.C. But we do have in L.A. forensic equipment in different film studios that we've worked with as well as somebody who's actually had some experience with the police. We went to three different places, each time trying to get a little more sophisticated in our comparison. Now, we found that the voice on the tapes did not match up that well with the early George Harrison tape you're referring to, Hard Day's Night or some of the early press conferences that we're all familiar with. All The Beatles had a much thicker Liverpudlian accent, coming out of the Liverpool area. Now, after these guys had lived around the world and travelled and were older, their voices, especially Harrison for sure, spoke a little slower in advanced age and also lost a little edge of that Liverpudlian accent. So, we found out that the voice did match up quite well with some recordings and interviews from Harrison from the late '90s that he'd given and that it was extremely close to that. And that's how each time we tried to nail it a little closer to the point where we were told it's a high likelihood it is Harrison. There was no way of knowing, again without going to the F.B.I. level, and even then it's only a probability. Obviously if the subject is no longer living and we don't know the actual source of the tapes, it's impossible to know 100%, but we were told it's a high likelihood it was.
Q - How about fingerprints lifted from the package or tapes. Is that something that could have been done?
A - That is not a bad idea, but we handled it so much over several days, even a couple of weeks really before we took it too seriously that we didn't even think it would be relevant at that point. My guess is it is all real. I believe Harrison would have recorded it obviously before he passed away, about a year before he passed away, after he was attacked at his home. He probably gave it to somebody close to him, within his circle, maybe outside his circle and said something to the effect, "If I die or something happens to me, wait a few years," in this case it would have been five years and our theory is he told 'em to send it out of Britain. In England there are very strict privacy and censorship laws. Had it come out in England, the estate of George Harrison or somebody close to him might have been able to quash it very quickly because of the laws over there. So, I think that's one reason it was sent out of Britain. Secondly, we know that Harrison was a huge Dylan fan all his life and loved the opportunity to record with him. They recorded of course with The Traveling Wilburys later in the '80s, but even in the '70s he recorded "If Not For You". Dylan played in his Concert For Bangladesh and Harrison loved to hang out in Woodstock with Dylan and play with him. All The Beatles were big Dylan fans. And, having done four documentary features on Dylan, I am known for these, certainly in England as well. So that's a theory as to why they arrived at my doorstep.
Q - What's been the reaction to the DVD? What are people saying? They believe it? They don't believe it? What are you hearing?
A - Well, it's a pretty big variety, but it's either extremely favorable or negative. If you go to Amazon.com, there's fifteen five star reviews and about twelve one star reviews. The people that give it the five star say this was interesting, this was fascinating, this was chilling, this was scary, this was fun. It was entertaining at the very least to re-visit the Paul Is Dead urban legend and see all the clues put together in a time line, in a chronology, even if it wasn't Harrison it was just fascinating. The people that don't like it are some how angry or upset because they love Harrison and The Beatles so much that they consider it blasphemy or something that somebody would put together a film on the urban legend. So, it's a very passionate response whether you love it or don't like it. The people that don't like it, it's not because they don't like the film, it's because the concept somehow they don't like that it's being aired in this way. We feel that everyone should judge for themselves.
Q - Here's the problem I have: I've interviewed guys who look like Paul McCartney. I've interviewed guys who sing like Paul McCartney. I've interviewed guys who play bass like Paul McCartney. I've interviewed guys who can talk like Paul McCartney. Going forward, past 1966 and beginning with "Sgt Pepper", none of those guys could have written that kind of material.
A - Well, in this theory in the film, Lennon says that he and Paul had about fifty songs and ideas that they had already developed that he felt he could pull together and continue The Beatles and continue many McCartney - Lennon compositions even though McCartney was gone. Also of course we remember the highly suspicious thing that The Beatles announced, they were going to stop touring 'live' and only record in the studio. So they essentially were a recording band only since 1966. All those years they were socked away in the studio where they could do things with their producer George Martin. Some of the feedback I get that supports the idea that McCartney had died is that once The Beatles broke up, his quality and quantity of compositions fell off so greatly. Sometimes people say, well maybe that lends to the whole theory that if he really was Paul McCartney, you think he would've continued and had a lot more output and more quality of successful songs for years to come, but he didn't. He just had one or two hits and that was it.
Q - Would an imposter have been able to carry on with a solo career? What would the point have been?
A - In this theory, the Paul McCartney imposter was able, without producing any new material or very little new material, was able to have a fantastic and lucrative career simply singing existing Beatles songs and one or two new compositions over time. There would've been a lot of incentive, in this theory, for him to continue as a solo Paul McCartney. Why not? For monetary reasons.
Q - After 1965, Paul McCartney never produced a new set of finger prints as part of his passport. So, when this story broke, first broke in 1969, had he provided a new set of finger prints to compare against the '65 set of fingerprints, there would be no controversy and no film of yours. Correct?
A - Well, what he did was, when the Paul Is Dead mystery, if you remember the history, the Paul Is Dead urban legend started in 1969. It went world-wide. This was because people read into the lyrics and played the songs backwards and came up with all these, what they felt in the album covers and such, were clues that McCartney was dead. So, The Beatles, because it was going so big worldwide, came out and tried to deny it and what "the" Paul McCartney did at the time was do a big interview for Life magazine in England. It says something like "I'm still here. I'm not dead," something of that nature. So, that was the extent to which they tried to show that he was alive. They went back and recorded one more album which was covered in my film Let It Be, as in let it be the end. Let's forget about it. They broke up immediately after that last album. So, the theory that Harrison presents in this new film, the exposure of all the clues led to a fast and furious attempt to deny it, one more album to kind of "prove" that he was still alive and they broke up immediately after that.
Q - I have trouble believing that somehow, someway, this cover-up wouldn't have been divulged years ago.
A - Well, that's what everybody says about almost every conspiracy, they say this is not possible 'cause somebody would have talked. In this theory presented by the Harrison voice, he says that MI5 came out immediately, the British Intelligence Service, to control the situation and was able to quash any and all publicity about it by making an agreement with The Beatles themselves, making a deal with the "Rita" figure and keeping it quiet for national security purposes. We think, oh, if something happened today of course everybody would come out and publicize it. In the '60s, there was very little media in England. There was the BBC, which was government controlled. We didn't have this world-wide cable and media access 24/7. So, I would've thought it would've been very easy, especially if you're calling the situation one for national security, not that difficult to cover something like that up.
Q - Had John Lennon not been assassinated, he was planning to reveal the McCartney cover-up?
A - That's the theory presented in this film.
Q - How was he planning to do that? Hold a press conference?
A - I don't know. It was not covered other than that was his intention. The Harrison voice says this was his intention and he feels that is why he may have been assassinated.
Q - Now, I just interviewed
Tim Piper, who plays John Lennon in the stage production Just Imagine.
A - Yeah, I know Tim Piper.
Q - Tim actually met Paul McCartney and Heather Mills at a charity function in Beverly Hills. I asked Tim if there was any doubt in his mind that it was the real Paul McCartney and he said "no."
A - Well, I don't think Tim has met the Paul McCartney from the '60s 'cause he's not old enough. So, who's to say? If you didn't meet the one from the '60s, who's to say that the one today is the exact same one?
Q - Did you by chance ever get to see one of The Beatles?
A - Well, I'll tell you a funny story. It's a good story. I've never interviewed any of The Beatles. I was in New York City about a year or so ago. I was on 7th Avenue, walking out of a meeting and I hear what sounds like a 'live' band. Sounds like they're playing on the street. I said I'm gonna walk towards the music. It sounds like it'll be fun. I walk closer to the music and I get closer to 8th Avenue and I notice it's Beatle music, "Back In The U.S.S.R.". I'm thinking maybe those are speakers. Maybe it's not a 'live' band. They must be playing on the street. It must be a Beatles tribute band. Then I hear the voice of Paul McCartney. "Back In The U.S.S.R.". I said, man, that guy's got it down really good. I turn onto 8th Avenue and lo and behold, on the awning of The Late Show With David Letterman, there is Paul McCartney with his band, performing for the crowd. That's the closest I got and actually saw Paul McCartney.
Q - What a great story!
A - Yeah. But I never met the one from the '60s, so I wouldn't know which one that is.
Q - This is a fascinating story you've put out on this DVD.
A - Look, the bottom line I tell people is, there's over a couple hundred clues that Paul McCartney died and they're not coincidental. So, either The Beatles were all in on a massive inside joke to say that Paul McCartney was dead for four or five years during the time of The Beatles, or Paul McCartney really is dead. But the clues are not coincidental. There's too many that are so obviously intentional.