TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE: 'Paul Is Dead' Visual "Clues"
Herein is a list of supposed visual clues in Beatles album covers that Paul McCartney was killed in an auto accident and replaced with a lookalike named William Campbell. This is simply a collection of anecdotes; some are known to be completely false or exaggerated. Nonetheless they are collected here for historical and entertainment purposes.
Near the top is a photo of Paul screaming (in the accident he lost his hair and teeth and was decapitated).
Paul is facing to the side on the cover, showing non-conformity with the other living Beatles, who are facing front.
From Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The whole album is a funeral scene. The headstone is the stone statue to the right of the drum. In front of that is a yellow floral display which, when looked at carefully, can be read as "paul?" or simply the letter "P" for "Paul." Note the younger Ringo is sad, as if he had lost a friend.
To the right of the stone statue is a statue of a girl who is looking down and to the right at a flaming car. This is "Lovely Rita the meter maid," who saw Paul's accident and the flaming car. The reason Paul was in the accident was because he was looking at "Lovely Rita".
Paul himself is seen with a hand over his head, which is an Eastern blessing for the deceased.
Paul holds a cor anglais, at the end of which is a small hook, representing the reaper's scythe.
The four-armed doll at the bottom of the cover points with one arm to Paul and is holding some sort of floral bouquet.
On the record version, the inside photo of the band shows Paul with a patch on his left arm which reads "O.P.D." or, "Officially Pronounced Dead." Other sources say that it stands for "Ontario Provincial Police," where William Campbell was an officer when he won the infamous look-alike contest
On the back cover of the record version, Paul is facing backwords, symbolizing his non-conformance with the living.
On the back cover of the record version, George points to the line, "Wednesday morning at five o'clock," the day and time of the accident:
The record sleeve for the first printing of the album came in psychedelic red colors, which looked like it had been soaked in blood:
When a mirror is put up to the drum on the cover in the middle and horizontally, it reads, "1 ONE 1 X = HE DIE (arrow pointing to Paul)." The "1 ONE 1" refers to the three remaining Beatles; the "X" to Paul. This photo makes it easier to see...
From Magical Mystery Tour
The word "BEATLES" on the cover spelled out in stars becomes a phone number when viewed upside-down. The number is either 537-1438 or 231-7438. The latter was reported to be the number to a London mortuary, but some claimed that when they called the number they heard, "You're getting closer..."
In the movie and in a picture in the booklet to the record version, it shows Paul at a desk with a sticker on it that reads, "I WAS":
On page 12 of the booklet in the record version, Paul is not wearing any shoes; they are to the left and covered in blood. Tire tracks are seen leading up to Paul.
From Yellow Submarine
On the front of the cover Paul has a hand above his head, again, the Eastern blessing for the dead.
The Yellow Submarine on the cover is underground, beneath the remaining Beatles. This is Paul's coffin.
From Abbey Road
The cover is symbolic of a funeral procession; John is dressed as the preacher, Ringo as the pallbearer, Paul as the corpse, and George as the grave digger.
Paul is walking with his eyes closed, like a dead man.
Paul is walking out of step with the other Beatles. He leads with his right foot, the others with their left. This is a symbol of non-conformity with the living.
Also, Paul is walking with a cigarette in his right hand, while the real Paul is left-handed. Cigarettes were also known as "coffin nails."
The Volkswagen Beetle has a license plate which reads, "28IF." In other words, Paul would have been 28 when Abbey Road was released, if he had lived.
To the left of the "Beatles" sign are eight circles. When the circles are connected they form the number three - there only remain "3 BEATLES."
On the back cover, the word "Beatles" has a crack running down the letter "S," symbolizing a break in the band (Paul's death).
From Anthology 3
The photo piece of Paul from the Rubber Soul cover is ripped at the neck, symbolizing his decapitation: