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Beatle Hoax Rumored: Paul Dead Since 1966

By Jeff Magalif

Rumors that Paul McCartney of the Beatles died in an automobile accident in late 1966 and has been replaced by a look-alike double since then are spreading across the country.

The rumors are based primarily on strong allusions to McCartney's death in Beatle song lyrics and in the art work on their albums. Apple, Inc., the Beatles' own music company, released a statement attributed to McCartney yesterday, saying that "the whole thing is too silly for words."

But speculation-fanned by WNKR-FM in Dearborn, Mich.-continues. The sta-tion will present a two-hour program Sunday evening on the rumors and evidence behind them.

Fred LaBour, music critic for the Michigan U. Daily, offered what he calls "a working hypothesis" about the alleged hoax in an article last Tuesday.

McCartney, according to LaBour's story, was found pinned under his Astin-Martin, "with the top of his head sheared off," four hours after he drove off on a rainy night in November, 1966. "The surviving Beatles decided to keep the information from the public for as long as possible ...a Paul look-alike contest was held and a living substitute found in Scotland," LaBour wrote.

The substitute, the story added, adopted McCartney's singing style but used his natural voice on "Lady Madonna," which sounds unlike McCartney. Beatle producer George Martin wrote the songs for which McCartney has been credited since his "death." LaBour said.

Allusions to McCartney's death abound on the four major albums the Beatles have released since November, 1966.

The cover picture on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band focuses on a grave, with the flowers at its bottom shaped like a bass guitar-McCartney's instrument-and like the letter "P." On the inside photo McCartney wears on his left arm a patch reading "O.P.D." (Officially Pronounced Dead), the British equivalent of "D.O.A."

"A Day in the Life." the last song on Sergeant Pepper's, deals with "a lucky man" who "blew his mind out in a car." And, on the back cover of the album, McCartney is the only Beatle with his back facing frontward.

The Beatles' next album, Magical Mystery Tour, features the song "I Am the Walrus" ("corpse" in Greek, according to LaBour) and shows McCartney in a walrus suit on the front cover. On page 23 of the inside series of pictures, the other three Beatles wear red roses in their lapels, McCartney a black rose.

"Strawberry Fields Forever," on side two of Magical Mystery Tour, includes at its end a distorted voice saying "I buried Paul," which can be heard plainly at 45 rpm. And, at the end of "I Am the Walrus," a voice asks, "Is he dead, father?"

In "Glass Onion," on The Beatles album, is the line, "Well, here's another clue for you all : the walrus was Paul." And "Revolution Number Nine," on the same album, includes a backwards tape which repeats the words "Turn me on, dead man."

Finally, on the cover of Abbey Road, the Beatles' most recent album, all four members of the group are walking away from what may be a cemetery, with only a barefoot McCartney out of step.

John J. Small, coordinator of WNKRFM, said yesterday that "whether Paul is dead or alive, there is a hoax here somewhere. The Beatles have a definite preoccupation with Paul's death-physical, spiritual, or fictional."

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