2003   OCTOBER 6   #279

Is Paul Dead?

When I found this homemade cassette in the Anniston, Alabama Goodwill Thrift Store, I knew I had to spend 50 cents for it. A music lover taped this radio broadcast of a syndicated special detailing the "Paul Is Dead" phenomenon off the air. The program probably dates from the late 70s, if the presence of Foreigner's 1977 debut album on the tape's b-side is anything to go by. Surely the program's writers had tongue firmly in cheek when creating the script, which collects all the "death clues" which had been circulating since '69, and adds a few new ones to the mix. John Lennon's assassination finally put a stop to this nonsense, but somehow it was a better time when we had to make up dead Beatles to obsess about.

- Perry Amberson

TT-36:54 / 8.4MB / 32kbps 22khz (MONO)

(Image courtesy of Perry Amberson)

John Davison writes:
The incidental music from 0m00s through 0m53s on the "Is Paul Dead?" cassette (Entry #279 in the _365_Days_ project) is the "Dororo" track from Isao Tomita's classic album, _The_Bermuda_Triangle_ (Tomita's finest 1970s work, IMHO).

Byzcath writes:
After listening to the Paul is dead thing, all the stuff the announcer talked about really did float about. I remember putting the LPs on reel-to-reel tapes, turning the tape around and listening to all that backwards garbage that resulted, just waiting for those clues (I was 15-16 at the time and the Beatles were my life!). I think I have a magazine from that time devoted to the subject. There is a book out called "The Walrus Was Paul" that deals with the subject. Considering how sappy Paul's music and lyrics got after the Beatles split, in the '70's someone was quoted as saying: "I've heard Paul's records: I think he really IS dead."

Bob Purse writes:
The rumor was started by a couple of DJ's in the US, following the release of Abbey Road, in 1969. One of them (several years later) subsequently admitted having made the whole thing up. Most likely due to the fact that Paul had retreated from the Beatles' collapse as a group at that moment (and was therefore not very visable to the world), the rumors caught fire, with people coming up with all sorts of other "clues". There has never, even 34 years later, been any evidence that the Beatles were involved - certainly, in that time, if they had been involved, SOMEONE would have spilled the beans. It's all perception, anyway. I've seen a list of clues written by someone who was trying to show how Beatles lyrics/album covers could just as easily be manipulated to support a rumor that John had gone blind!

mcknigs writes:
I read somewhere that as a young college DJ, Fred "Too Slim" LaBour, later of the PBS radio singing cowboy group Riders in the Sky, was one of the DJs responsible for giving the Paul-is-Dead hoax a big push.

Jef Stevens writes:
Fred LaBour (aka the bass player "Too Slim" from Riders in the Sky) was indeed one of the primary people behind the hoax, but he was not a DJ. He was working at the Michigan Daily, a newspaper at the University of Michigan, when he heard a DJ named Russell Gibb at WKNR FM in Detroit who was talking about the "Paul is Dead" thing, which at that time had not spread very far and was obviously a joke. Mr. LaBour had been assigned the job of reviewing "Abbey Road" when he heard that show and invented many more "clues." Even though it was not the first article about Paul's rumored death, LaBour's article in the was important because it fleshed out several aspects of the story. Many of the elements of the rumor that have been repeated countless times were products of LaBour's imagination. He created the identity of Paul's replacement, William Campbell, and he asserted the walrus was an image of death, stating "'Walrus' is greek for corpse." The article was called "McCartney Dead: New Evidence Brought To Light." and was published on October 14, 1969. John Lennon once revealed in an interview that they thought the whole concept of backwards masking was pretty funny, and they tried it once as a joke. Apparently in the song "Girl" there is a backwards message of the Beatles chanting "TIT, TIT, TIT..." but that was the extent of their involvement in anything of that sort.