Gary James' Interview With The Author Of
The Walrus Was Paul,
The Great Beatle Death Clues Of 1969
R. Gary Patterson
One of the wildest rumors to ever sweep the U.S. 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, (DJ) 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 DJs 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 of 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. Pepper's" 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.
Q - Did you come across any official reports of the accident?
A - The only official thing in my research was a Moped accident in November. It's mentioned in his family album in which he chipped a tooth. He went to his Aunt Bet's house and had his lip stitched up. That's the reason why he grew a moustache for Sgt. Pepper's cover, was to hide the scar. Matter-of-fact that scar is gonna play another role on The White Album where people will notice the clean McCartney in the up-close photo and see the scar across his lip. So, the scar plays an important role even as far back as the "Paperback Writer" video. As far as the police report, I went through the London Times and didn't find anything. Of course, that makes the conspiracy thing sound more interesting. The rumor was that this thing was completely blackened out. Some people say that in the song "Lady Madonna", the line, Wednesday morning's paper didn't come was a direct reference that the whole thing was blotted out from the public. No one knew it had taken place, but The Beatles gave us that clue.
Q - Are there any photos of this accident of Paul's?
A - To the best of my knowledge, no one has produced a photo of a wrecked Aston Martin with an injured Paul McCartney from some head injury in 1966.
Q - Do you believe that Paul McCartney's death could be kept out of the papers and hidden from the public?
A - John Lennon said that if Paul McCartney were killed, the whole world would know, and basically I would think that too. But, I think what makes it so believable is that we're looking back at it now with a 1996 perception of Paul McCartney, Wings, and The Beatles. But, if we go back to 1969, when it happened, you have to remember the last live performance The Beatles had given at that time was Candlestick Park. There were no live performances. The music changed radically. "Revolver" was a radical change. "Sgt. Pepper" was even more radical than "Revolver". As the music changed rapidly a lot of people were turned off by the direction The Beatles were going. With no live performances and all at once these rumors came out, it made all these pieces to the puzzle say something did happen to McCartney. To me, in 1969, I could've believed seriously that this conspiracy could've existed. I know that Alex Bennett said that the only way he could be convinced that Paul McCartney could be alive, is if he produced a passport from 1965, with a set of fingerprints that matched. So, obviously a lot of people in very high positions were sort of amazed that something could've happened.
Q - Obviously Paul McCartney produced that set fingerprints.
A - No. From what I understand, I've got a taped interview of Paul McCartney and he was talking about death clues and this was in the late 60's, early 70's, some American DJ called and said, "Paul, what you want us to do?" McCartney's reply was, "Seems like good publicity to me. Tell 'em I'm not." But the or problem was, it was a matter of weeks that went by which no word was given, until the Life Magazine article that came out on November 7, 1969, and even that infamous magazine cover provided some clues for die-hard conspiracists, as far as the Paul Is Dead rumors. It was rather interesting the way it all came together. And, there was a lot of misinformation. For instance, if you remember the clue on the "Sgt. Pepper" album, the OPD patch. Actually, it didn't say OPD. It was OPP. I have a DJ jockey friend in Ontario and he sent me a patch and the letters were OPP. It stands for Ontario Provincial Police. So, when questioned about the OPD patch, McCartney said "Oh, perhaps it stood for Ontario Police Department. Now obviously McCartney must have known that the patch was OPP. He allowed the OPD to go into the books as Officially Pronounced Dead. So, it seems like there could've been better answers at the time unless they wanted us to buy more and more albums and have such a great mystery tour to find the clues.
Q - Besides The Beatles, who else would've been involved in this whole Paul Is Dead rumor?
A - Try the name Mal Evans. I think Mal Evans (Beatle Road Manager) as a Beatles insider would have be involved. The reason I suggest Mal is, because in my research, Mal is the one who McCartney mentions came up with the phrase, Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Lonely Hearts phrase on the bass drum (of Sgt. Peppers) gives the smoking gun clue of the whole conspiracy. You take a flat edge mirror and you place it in the center of Lonely Hearts, perpendicular, and it reads a cryptic message from left to right, Roman numeral one. And then one, ix, Roman numeral nine of course, and then, he die. In between he and die, the diamond shaped arrow points straight up to Paul McCartney and down to this flower-shaped grave. At first, I thought the one with nice letters happily applied. He was the only Beatle with nine letters in his name. But, the two ones together would make eleven. So, you'd have the eleventh month and the ninth date, which would be November 9, which would fulfill the early legend of early November for the car accident. Then, George is on the back pointing to Wednesday morning at 5 o'clock. That would be the Wednesday of November 9. Of course the bass drum was designed by a painter named Joe Ephgrave. It's almost like an anagram for epitaph and grave. If you look at the whole "Sgt. Pepper's" cover, the bass drum is in the perfect location for the tombstone. On a tombstone we would expect to find the name of the person who died, and the date of his death. In England, very few people knew the detail of this hysteria. In England if they looked at the date, it would be something like September eleven, which would be out of kilter. The Beatles Monthly suggested that on January 7, 1967 a rumor had swept London that on icy road conditions, Paul McCartney had wrecked, on the M motorway and was killed in a car accident. Sources from Apple called his (Paul's) St. John Wood home and Paul said, "No, I've been home all day." So even in England as late as January 7, 1967, there was reported evidence that Paul McCartney had been killed. There's no doubt that the American mass media added to it and a lot of DJs had fun with it. Like John Lennon said, it was "a lot of harmless fun. Everyone had a good time." But, there's still some facts we don't know and that is exactly who was involved with the whole concept. Right now, we think Lennon, because maybe some of the word play. But, Paul McCartney definitely had the great technical skill as a producer to come up with some of the hidden audio tracks too. Then, after the Beatles broke up, there's some little hints from The Beatles themselves. For instance, in John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep", where he says, Those freaks was right when they said you was dead, and then Ringo starts "Back Off Boogaloo". It was reported in the book Shout that "Boogaloo" was a code name the three Beatles had for Paul McCartney. In the line where he says, Wake up meathead, don't forget that you were dead, could be a little suggestion that Paul was one of the masterminds. Paul liked to use disguises and sneak out before concerts and talk to the crowds. I think basically the whole thing was a nice little lark. You got four working class guys from Liverpool who probably were bored with the whole conventional lifestyle of their albums and thought, hey, this may be fun. Why don't we throw some clues out? I think The Beatles started this as a great public relations thing. This was the same group that was gonna emboss numbers on The White Album and have a drawing to a Beatles concert. So, they were aware of the marketing effect of a rumor. I think it lost all its fun in 1969, when the Manson trial took place. The Helter Skelter murders. There was even an attempt to have The Beatles subpoenaed into California at the trial. What would you do if you were on the stand and they asked if you put hidden messages in your songs? And they're supposed to reply, "Well, we tried to make a public thing with Paul is Dead, but we didn't mean anything to Charles Manson." This could've been a nightmare legally for The Beatles and it definitely took all the fun out of it.
Q - Wouldn't George Martin have been able to shed some light on this rumor?
A - How much did George Martin have to do with the album art? The only thing that Martin may have been involved in is backward tracks. Now, when you play "Revolution Number Nine" backwards, does it really say Turn Me On Dead Man? Do you hear that? I can hear it 'cause it's supposed to be there. On "Strawberry Fields Forever" at the very end, you're supposed to hear I buried Paul. In my research, John Lennon claimed he said, Cranberry sauce. Derek Taylor, who was in the studio with them, said John didn't say, I buried Paul. He said, I'm very bored. You have three people who were there. The only thing they can all agree on is what he didn't say. What's really strange is you can say I'm gonna play the track and hear him say Cranberry sauce and you'll hear him say it. You'll also hear him say I buried Paul and I'm very bored. You set your mind to hear it and it's there. Is it just a mis-arranged sound that makes us hear what's supposed to be there? Sometimes, it sends chills up your back.
Q - Does it make sense to you that The Beatles would go through all this trouble with these "clues", just hoping that one or two people would hear it or see it? It just seems so bizarre.
A - I think it is bizarre. A lot of these are just coincidence obviously. But, is it also a coincidence that Paul McCartney is completely different from the other Beatles in all the shots? Look at "Sgt. Pepper's". He's got his back to the camera. "Magical Mystery Tour", the sign says, I was. From The White Album, The Walrus was Paul. On "Abbey Road" he's out of step with the others. Paul had a lot of control on the Abbey Road cover. Some of the funny things have to do with Paul without his shoes on the "Abbey Road" cover. I don't know about you, but in August in London, I prefer walking barefoot on hot asphalt. (Laughs). Paul says he just didn't have his shoes on because.... And he goes through the nice little details of what happened. If you look back at the "Magical Mystery Tour" album, there's a shot of Paul standing in his socks. His shoes are sitting next to Ringo's bass drum and it appears that they're smeared with blood. Then on the bass drum, it's got a little sign you can read, Love the Three Beatles. The bass drum is also the same bass drum Ringo plays on "All You Need is Love." So, it's the only time that drum skin was used.
Q - What's so crazy about this thing is who would buy a record and play it backwards and look for death clues on an album jacket? I never did it. I never knew of any record buyer who did that.
A - Only in America. Not before this. Well, here's another thing before The Beatles, whoever had a backward track on anything? And, what was the first backward track? The very first group to ever use a backward track was The Beatles and the very first backward line was from "Rain". It's on the last verse. When you hear Lennon's vocal phrase, all he's saying is, When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads. That was backwards. The backward guitar line in "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the backward drum sounds. There was a textural sound to it that The Beatles experimented with. So, who would play a record backwards? Well, obviously there was nothing to hear backwards until some of the stuff with The Beatles. Then, when the rumor came out, it was the fascination of playing things backwards. I think a lot of people became obsessed with it. Paul McCartney's infamous visit to The Simpson's show in October (1995) provided us with another backward track.
Q - And that was what?
A - Right at Halloween on The Simpson show, one of the episodes was Bart's Haunted Tree House. As he rushes through the graveyard one of the tombstones has Paul McCartney's name on it, which is kind of interesting. Of course, all three Beatles have now been on The Simpsons. Paul and Linda's cartoon characters are there and Lisa wanted to become a vegetarian. Paul asked her if she knew if you played "Maybe I'm Amazed" backwards it had a ripping recipe for lentil soup. As the episode ended, they're playing "Maybe I'm Amazed", but in the background you hear these strange little sounds. I recorded it on my Hi-Fi VCR and sure enough I reversed the track and you hear Paul McCartney saying, Add one cup of carrots and he goes to a recipe at the end of it. Then, amazingly, the last phrase he says is, Oh, by the way, I'm alive. This was on The Simpsons, so someone has a pretty good sense of humor with it still. Then, if you remember the "Paul Is Alive" album, where he walks across "Abbey Road" again, and the Volkswagon just happens to be there. But, at that time, the license plate had changed from 28 IF to 51 IS. So Paul had a pretty good idea of some of the clues.
Q - Did you call anyone at the Fox Network and tell them what you discovered?
A - No. I didn't talk to Fox about it, because who spends time playing records backwards? (Laughs).
Q - You've also seen "clues" in the "Free As A Bird" video?
A - I was amazed when I started watching the thing 'cause there are like Beatle titles. The first thing that really caught me is when you hear the bird sound. It sounds, the wings, like "Across The Universe", the taped bird sounds on "Let It Be". Then, when it flys outside, "Flying" from "Magical Mystery Tour". When I saw the egg company car and then the guy unloading the eggs who would obviously be the 'Egg Man'. Then the nurse selling poppies from a tray from "Penny Lane" is in the video. Hidden references galore through the whole video. My friends at ABC Radio Network told me there were 85 hidden clues.
Q - Clues to what though?
A - Clues to the Beatles' lives. Clues to Beatles' songs that had to do with it. "A Day In The Life" about He blew his mind out in a car. You have the Aston Martin that's wrecked. You have the crowd of people who stood and stared. If you put your video machine on slow motion as it shows the police van, if you look through one of the windshields, it looks like it's Paul McCartney's face. It's like a character of it. Also, on the fire engine, you remember in "Penny Lane", He keeps his fire engine clean, it's a clean machine. On top of the fire engine there's a blackbird poised right above where the car was crashed, which may be even more of a clue to maybe the Beatles winking a little bit at the death clues and bring in a Paul thing with it which would definitely be part of the Beatle history. There's some dominant clues like Eleanor Rigby's grave where it has the tombstone that says Eleanor Rigby. When the camera pans by you see Father McKenzie walking from the grave. You see the sheep dog. "Martha My Dear", if you remember the song, running between the gravestone and Father McKenzie. Then, you have the scene from "Magical Mystery Tour". A "Fool On The Hill" where Paul's jumping around the hillside which is Fool on the Hill. The road that goes by is a Long and Winding Road. A girl is carrying a suitcase as "She's Leaving Home". You have the scene of a newspaper taxi. You have Blue Meanies sticking their heads out of manhole covers. Someone walking through a window like "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window". The "Sgt. Pepper's" drum skin is shown. Very subtle and some imaginative clues were placed there that had to do with their lives. One of the tags on the crushed Aston Martin from the car accident scene says WFE7. If you say that it's wife seven. That may be a reference to the Beatles having seven wives between them. It seems like someone went to a great deal of expense and trouble to hide many, many references of the songs that are there. Obviously The Beatles enjoy hiding things as they did with The Simpsons show, as they did with "Free As A Bird", and as they did in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 with the Paul Is Dead rumors. I heard McCartney say in an interview that he put on the walrus head because it was lying there. Well, if I remember right, that's the first time McCartney even mentioned being the Walrus on the cover, okay? Then you have John Lennon saying, I was the walrus, now I'm just John. But then he also tells us, Here's another clue for you all, the walrus was Paul. It's kind of confusing isn't it?
Q - Yes it is.
A - Have you looked at the strange ironies of John Lennon?
Q - What do you mean?
A - The number nines. Well, everybody knows that John was born on October 9, 1940. His son was born October 9, 1975. John died on December 8, 1980, but it was almost December 9 in England. He was an English citizen, so in his country he would have died on the ninth. He was pronounced dead on Ninth Avenue. Liverpool has nine letters. The Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein on November 9, 1961, which very coincidentally is five years before the fatal car crash (November 9, 1966) - the same day as the crash. His number at the Dakota first apartment is 72, seven plus two is nine. Epstein died on August 27, two plus 7 is nine. It's very strange. Then you listen to "Come Together", the very first thing he says is Shoot me. Take a look at the song he wrote, Happiness is a warm gun, bang, bang, shoot, shoot. And, the album "Revolver" he sings I know what it's like to be dead, in "She Said, She Said". There's even a strange thing on the "Magical Mystery Tour", remember Lennon standing next to the sign that says "The best way to go is by M and D Co."? Take a look at the initials MDC. Mark David Chapman. Talk about irony.
Q - And finally, you have a major revelation you'd like to share with our readers.
A - Paul McCartney called Jay Fox of the ABC Radio Network on Thanksgiving night (1995 - the very same night The Beatles Anthology was running on ABC TV) and said, Yes, in the early days we did put hidden messages in our songs. I have heard that personally. It was played for me on tape, by Jay Fox. He called me at home. Jay was so ecstatic about it that he called three times. He gave me the hotline into the station, and said, "You gotta listen to this." This is a '60s station network. Now, the early days would've been the recording years of The Beatles. I don't think you could say hidden messages existed in "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Jay is a good friend of mine. He's got The Beatles Archive Show that comes on Saturday night and it's on the ABC Network. He's interviewed McCartney at least twice. Jay said, "Alright Gary, the first thing I want to hit him with is the bass drum on Sgt. Pepper." (Laughs). So, I haven't heard the entire interview. But he called me and said Paul McCartney has admitted it. It is the first time.