Sir Paul McCartney turns 80 today but conspiracy theory claims he actually died in 1966

Ella Kipling June 18, 2022
Sir Paul McCartney turns 80 today but conspiracy theory claims he actually died in 1966
Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Music legend Paul McCartney is turning 80 years old this June, and fans are taking a look back on the former Beatles member’s career.

McCartney has a lot of memorable moments in his 80 years of life, but one which is particularly obscure is the conspiracy theory surrounding him during the late 1960s.

Fans at the time were convinced that McCartney had died in 1966, and some still argue about the rumour even today.

Photo by Fiona Adams/Redferns

“Paul is dead” conspiracy theory explored

This strange conspiracy theory suggests that McCartney died in a car crash and was replaced in the band by a look-alike. Supporters of the theory think that The Beatles planted clues to this horrible accident in their music.

Student journalist Tim Harper wrote that when you play a portion of the White Album’s Revolution 9 you can hear the line “turn me on dead man” being repeated over and over, but only when played backwards.

According to Harper’s article, on the sleeve of Sgt Pepper, a hand is held over McCartney’s head, something “many believe is a death symbol of either the Greeks or the American Indians.”

The piece also pointed out that on the gatefold photo in the centre of the album, McCartney is wearing a black armband.

The conspiracy even sparked inspiration which led to a short film called Paul is Dead, which came out in 2018.

The description reads: “1967. Hungover and at each other’s throats, John, George and Ringo must convince Billy Shears, a sheepish rural lookalike, to join their band after Paul dies during a musical retreat.”

Photo by David Harris/Keystone/Getty Images

What does McCartney think?

McCartney addressed the rumours in 2019 when he admitted that he was aware of them.

“I know all the rumours… because I was being asked about them! There would literally be someone ringing up to ask, ‘Are you dead?’ I said, ‘Well, no. I’m answering this phone call!’ And the reply would be, ‘Well, I can’t be sure it’s you’. So, then you actually do get a bit paranoid about yourself,” he explained.

Why does McCartney think the rumours gained so much traction at the time?

He said: “People may have taken too many drugs and started looking for answers in all the wrong places!”

Twitter discusses the McCartney conspiracy

Despite the conspiracy first beginning back in the 60s, people still discuss it today. Especially with McCartney’s birthday coming up, fans are back to debating the legitimacy of the rumour on Twitter…

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Ella is the Head of Content at Freshered and also works a freelance journalist at GRV Media, writing for HITC and Reality Titbit. Her interests lie in news and anything culture related including entertainment, musicals, books, and social media. Ella is also a big supporter of student media and writes for her university’s newspaper as well as hosting her own show on the radio station.