Did Paul McCartney die in 1966? To most of the world, the answer is an emphatic “no, obviously not,” but for believers in the Paul is Dead theory, the truth is not so simple. Mega-celebrities tend to draw the most insane conspiracies, and no celebrities have ever been quite as mega as The Beatles were. The evidence in this dark Beatles conspiracy is so detailed and far-fetched that the sheer creativity is commendable.
This particular conspiracy has been around for far longer than the Internet has existed. The theory speculates that, after a heated recording session for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, McCartney stormed out of the studio and raced away in his car, only to crash and pass away. During the time in question, McCartney was actually on vacation in Kenya, but a few real life incidents likely inspired the hoax. In 1965, Paul crashed his moped, which gave him a chipped tooth and a scar on his lip. In January of 1967, a few months after his supposed accident, McCartney’s Mini Cooper was totaled, but he wasn’t in it at the time.
The fact that Paul McCartney himself is still active in the music scene and has written and performed plenty of chart-topping hits since his alleged demise does nothing to dissuade the Macca truthers from their quest to uncover what really happened on November 9, 1966. If the man currently masquerading as Paul McCartney is an imposter after all, then he’d definitely qualify as the greatest impersonator of all time.
Perhaps the most infamous bit of evidence that Paul McCartney was replaced is a cryptic soundbite from the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Eagle-eared fans claim that they hear John Lennon moaning, “I buried Paul,” which they take as a confession. Of course, what Lennon actually says is relatively unclear and completely up to interpretation. For the record, Lennon himself said the lyric was actually “cranberry sauce.”
The album cover for 1969’s Abbey Road may be one of the most famous album covers in music history. The iconic image features The Beatles walking across the titular road, and McCartney truthers think there's some obvious funeral imagery at play: Lennon is the priest, clad all in white, Ringo Starr is the undertaker in his black garb, and George Harrison, who is dressed for work, is the gravedigger. That leaves Paul McCartney as the corpse to be buried. Further “evidence” shows that Paul is walking out of step with the rest of the band, representing his place in the afterlife. He’s not wearing shoes, which some have argued is a symbol of death.
Those who focus entirely on the four Beatles walking across Abbey Road may be missing one of the most important clue in the mystery of Paul's fate: a Volkswagen parked in the background of the photo between Paul and George has a license plate that reads “28IF.” Conspiracy believers argue that it's an intentional message that Paul McCartney would have been “28” when Abbey Road was released if only he hadn’t been in a car accident in 1966. Of course, McCartney was actually 27 when the album was released, but don't let facts dissuade you from the truth.
For the seminal 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles created an entire fictional band for themselves to portray, making Sgt. Pepper’s one of the first real concept albums in music history. Of course, it also created a convenient opportunity for them to introduce a brand new band member, a lookalike and soundalike of Paul McCartney. Some conspiracists allege that the replacement’s name is “Billy Shears,” and they introduce him with the line, “So let me introduce to you to the one and only Billy Shears." Of course, some people say the replacement’s name is actually William Campbell, and everyone seems to forget that Shears was played by Ringo on the album.