The Death Hoax of
Paul McCartney

The Paul McCartney Death Hoax of 1969

As unbelievable as it may sound today, in the fall of 1969 a wild rumor began circulating in the media that Paul McCartney was dead. It all started when a caller named "Tom" phoned WKNR Radio in Detroit and asked disc jockey Russ Gibb if he'd heard that Paul McCartney was dead. The theory was advanced that the Beatles had replaced Paul with a "double" following his death in a car crash in 1966! To support this claim, theorists began pointing to "clues" left by The Beatles in their songs and on their album covers. The Beatles said it wasn't so, that it was merely a coincidence. But the story that Paul was dead wouldn't die. Even famed Defense Attorney F. Lee Bailey got into the act and actually did a syndicated television special on the rumor.

In a new book titled "Turn Me On Dead Man, The Complete Story of the Paul McCartney Death Hoax" (Popular Culture Ink Publishers, 1-800-678-8828) author Andru J. Reeve explores the origin of what must be the wildest Beatle story ever, The Paul McCartney Death Hoax of 1969. We talked with Andru Reeve about his book.

Q - Prior to the McCartney Death Hoax, had any other entertainer had this kind of controversy surrounding their very existence?

A - No, not that I'm aware of. This whole rumor about Paul being dead is unique in that it had a baroque quality about it. There's this litany of clues,' visual and audible. I know of no other rumor or death hoax or whatever that utilized to the degree that this one did, the 'clues' and idea of something sub-rosa, like a secret conspiracy, a secret underground, an underground conspiracy.

Q - Are you surprised that so many people believed this rumor?

A - No. You see this all the time. You saw it most recently in the late 80's with the Elvis is alive thing. I mention in the book that people said to me, 'Hey, The Beatles were rich. They were powerful. They could do anything they want. They could buy silence. They could pay off people and get them to say anything they wanted.' When you're talking about celebrities, you're talking about this certain aura that celebrities have. They're like magical. They have this magical quality, this power, this God sort of thing, this icon kind of thing going with them. Sure McCartney could die symbolically, but still be alive. You know, just like Elvis is still alive, not literally, but in everybody's mind he's still alive. He's immortal basically. I think that's what drives a lot of people to fame in the first place, not to get off on a tangent, they seek immortality. When you die, people still remember you. more

© Gary James

The Walrus Was Paul - The Great Beatle Death Clues of 1969

One of the wildest rumors to ever sweep the US happened in the fall of 1969. Disc jockeys across the country began pointing to so-called "clues" on Beatle albums that suggested Paul McCartney was dead. The story goes that Paul McCartney had died in a mysterious automobile accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike, by the remaining Beatles. As crazy as it sounds, that rumor really took hold in America.

Author R. Gary Patterson has chronicled that amazing, but brief period in rock'n'roll history with a book titled, The Walrus was Paul, The Great Beatle Death Clues of 1969 The very idea that the Beatles would put "clues" in their songs and on their album jackets is ridiculous, isn't it? Maybe, just maybe, it isn't so ridiculous.

Q - When did the rumor take hold?

A - October 12, 1969. It was during 'Abbey Road'. There are so many disc jockeys who claim to be the first to break the rumor, or who designed which clues. It's almost impossible to say this is the beginning. But, (d.j.) Russ Gibb gets credit for being the one to actually go on and confront Peter Asher and Allen Klein with F. Lee Bailey. He's definitely the figurehead behind it, in my estimation. So, this was started in October of 1969, and the clues would pre-date that, which I think is really strange. A lot of d.j.'s will take a look at the line from 'Glass Onion', "Here's another clue for you all, The Walrus was Paul." This was to suggest they were teasing their fans. They'd heard these death rumors that Paul is dead and they were just gonna throw out little clues to tease 'em. But, you gotta remember, The White Album was released in '68 and there were no rumors of any clues until 1969. So, how can you have another clue, when another clue isn't even suggested until a year later?

Q - You discovered that Paul McCartney was involved in an automobile accident on November 9, 1966. Is that correct?

A - The rumor was, that Paul was involved in an automobile accident sometime in November of 1966. It's in three other books. In William Dowldings' "Beatle Songs" he mentions the date also. If the legend is true, and off course when you search out any legend you have to go to some kind of common ground to say is there anything that makes us look at this date as preposterous as it sounds that maybe it could've happened. So, what we do is basically take what we know and in three sources they mention an accident in early November. We also know that because of the clue on the back of Sgt. Peppers where George is pointing to the first line of 'She's Leaving Home', "Wednesday Morning at 5 o'clock"; that it would be one of the Wednesdays of the month. So, coincidentally, November 9, 1966 is a Wednesday. It fits into the pattern. more

© Gary James