The cover of the second last album from the Fab Four turns 50 this year and was rumoured to contain some rather macabre references. Though, of course, that’s not quite true…
“Abbey Road”, the second last album from the Beatles which this year celebrates its fiftieth anniversary (it came out on 26th September 1969), was actually the last studio album from the Fab Four.
“Let It Be” came out posthumously the following spring and was recorded before “Abbey Road” which was to go down in history for the calibre of the songwriting (including tracks like “Come Together”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “Because” and the memorable “Golden Slumbers”) not to mention its iconic cover.
A cover which, stylised or not, has been featured in dozens of tattoos because of a series of myths (most of them untrue) in relation to the Fab Four.
So here we are in 2019 and it’s time to dispel some of the misconceptions.
“Abbey Road” was actually supposed to be called “Everest” and involve a photo shoot on the Himalayan summit. It was just that when it came down to it, none of the “Londoners” John, Paul, George or Ringo could summon up the will to embark on such a challenging journey just for the sake of a single shot…
Which is how drummer Ringo Starr came up with the suggestion to get them past their creative block: “Why don’t we just do the photo down here (obviously, the Beatles were in the studio putting the finishing touches on the album, ed.) and simply call it ‘Abbey Road’ after the road we’re on?”. The other three agreed and one of the most famous album covers of all time was ready to go.
And a whole series of myths too, seeing how in the photo, bass player Paul McCartney appears barefoot unlike his bandmates. Why? The answer is simple: Macca was always looking for ways to get attention and as soon as they got to the zebra crossing, he slipped off his beloved sandals and crossed the road barefoot. Click!
At the same time, many fans subscribed to a theory that the clothes worn by the Beatles referred to a funeral procession. There’s John Lennon in white (a religious figure), Paul McCartney barefoot (the deceased), George Harrison in denim (the gravedigger) and Ringo Starr dressed in an elegant dark suit (the undertaker).
But was there any truth to it? No, the “Abbey Road” photo dates back to 8th August 1969 and for some time now the Liverpool group had abandoned their original total look and dressed as they pleased according to the whim of the moment.
In the background there is the notorious Volkswagen Beetle with the number plate LMW 281F, another secret message feeding into the Paul is dead theory. In fact the death of McCartney was rumoured to have been hushed up since 1966!
Some of the more extreme and imaginative fans claimed that the license plate meant:“Linda McCartney Widow – 28 (years) IF (he lives)”. The pity about it is that Paul and Linda weren’t even married yet in 1966 and in summer 1969 McCartney was still only 27 years old…
He would only turn 28 on 18th June 1970, when the Beatles had long disbanded and become the stuff of legend. True legend. At least this myth would pass the test of time.