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The Beatles’ Paul McCartney Parodied the ‘Paul Is Dead’ Theory on an Album Cover

According to a conspiracy theory, Paul McCartney died in 1966 and The Beatles left clues about his death on the cover of 'Abbey Road.' Paul parodied the theory on the cover of one of his successful solo albums. The solo album cover looks like 'Abbey Road.'

The cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road had been referenced by many artists — including Paul McCartney during his solo career. One of Paul’s albums is similar to the Abbey Road cover; however, it’s different in order to poke fun at the “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory. During an interview, Paul explained why he decided to parody the theory.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney with a drum
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney | PA Images via Getty Images

The Beatles supposedly hid clues on the cover of ‘Abbey Road’

“Paul is dead” is one of the most famous conspiracy theories in the history of music. According to this theory, the real Paul died in 1966 and the remaining Beatles replaced him with a lookalike named Billy Shears. Supposedly, The Beatles left clues about Paul’s death in their lyrics and album art.

The cover of Abbey Road is integral to the conspiracy theory. On the cover, Paul is barefoot. This allegedly symbolizes that Paul died. Some fans theorize the rest of the Beatles on the cover of the album represent Paul’s funeral procession.

The Beatles’ Paul McCartney mimicked the cover of ‘Abbey Road’ for 1 of his solo albums

Paul parodied the idea with the cover of his live album Paul Is Live, which looks like the Abbey Road cover. During an interview on his personal website, Paul explained why he did this. “We had live stuff and when you’re thinking of a title, it would be Paul McCartney Live,” he said. “And that suggests, ‘Oh, remember that old rumor that Paul McCartney is dead?!'” Paul decided to call the album Paul Is Live instead.

Paul wears shoes on the Paul Is Live cover. He explained why he wasn’t wearing shoes on Abbey Road. “I was barefoot in the original Abbey Road crossing picture, which really was because it was a very hot day,” he said. “And I had arrived wearing sandals and kicked them off for a couple of the shots. And one of the shots we used was me without the sandals.”

Paul theorized why his lack of footwear led to a conspiracy. “So, you know, in those days people were going, ‘Why has he got bare feet?'” he said. “Whereas I would say, ‘It was probably hot and he probably took his sandals off!’ If you’re looking for conspiracies, apparently it was some old mafia thing about being barefooted!”

The white car on the cover of Paul Is Live also pokes fun at the idea Paul died. The Abbey Road cover has a car with “28 IF” on the license plate. According to the theory, this meant that Paul would be 28 if he was still alive. Paul Is Live has a car with “58 IS” on the plate. That meant Paul was 58 at the time of the album’s release.

The way the world reacted to Paul McCartney’s ‘Paul Is Live’

Paul Is Live went on to become a hit. The album peaked at No. 78 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for four weeks. The album charted even higher in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company said Paul Is Live reached No. 34 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for two weeks.


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Paul didn’t release any of the songs from the album as singles and none of them charted. While none of the live tracks from the album received lots of attention, Paul Is Live retained a certain amount of notoriety because of its clever album cover.