In the beginning, the Beatles were the most popular and groundbreaking group in the history of Rock and Roll. In addition to having hit after hit, they literally changed the world musically.
A few years into this reign, in 1966, John Lennon gave an interview in which he stated his opinion that the Beatles had become More Popular Than Jesus, which in all honesty was probably true, especially in his native England which is where he gave the interview.
The assertion didn’t cause much of a stir in Britain, but then the article was republished in the American magazine Datebook on July 29th 1966, as luck would have it, on the same date as Bob Dylan’s motorcycle accident that sidelined him for most of the rest of the sixties.
When the interview hit US shelves, there was outrage among an American populace which had for the most part not really engaged yet the spirit of what the sixties was to be known for; there were protests, Radio stations called for boycotts of the Beatles, there were record burnings held in the south, the Beatles popularity was in jeopardy.
In August of 1966, the Beatles came to America and John Lennon apologized; trying to clarify that he wasn’t stating that the Beatles were in any way better than Jesus, but like TV, he felt that at that point that they had become more popular. The public largely accepted this apology, although during the Beatles brief ’66 tour of America there were empty seats in the stadiums for the first time. Had the Beatles passed their prime, even though their music was better than ever?
At this point, there was no mention of clues in the Beatles materials, either the songs themselves or the visual materials like their album covers; but from September of 1966 on, everything else the Beatles did would be evaluated and inspected for clues…the mystery had seemingly begun.
In the summer of 1969, at the height of the Beatles fame, a rumor began to spread across college campuses in the US that Paul McCartney had died and been replaced by a lookalike; a lookalike who could also play bass and sing as McCartney did.
There are stories passed on through the years that the rumor was shared during parties in 1967, and another that the story of McCartney’s so-called demise was offered to Rolling Stone magazine; but it wasn’t until the latter half of 1969 that the story really began to take hold.
In September, stories began to be published in the newspapers of a couple of college campuses. First the Drake Times-Delphic then Northern Illinois’ student paper ran articles detailing McCartney’s demise and began to disseminate clues in apparent proof of this assertion.
In October, the story made its way into Michigan where it landed first at WOIA on October 10th after DJ Larry Monroe’s brother told him the tale and he decided to go on air with it. Listening was someone named Russ Updike, who called in and then headed for the radio studio according to Monroe’s linked story above. On the way, Updike was apparently hit head on and killed by a drunk driver, adding an eerie local element to the story that McCartney had been seemingly killed in a car crash.
Fellow WOIA DJ Jim Curtis then called Apple records in London to get word directly from them, where the night watchman called it “a load of horseshit” link.
From there, on October 12th an Eastern Michigan student named Tom Zarski called into Russ Gibb’s show on WKNR and said the now infamous words “I wanted to rap with you about McCartney being dead and what is this all about” link.
After bringing Gibb up to speed, he told him to put on the Beatles Revolution Number 9 from the White Album and to turn the song around backwards and play it in reverse. Gibb did, and heard something incredibly spooky.
“Number 9”, when reversed, said “turn me on dead man”.
The rumor exploded around the Ann Arbor area; one person who heard the rumor was University of Michigan student Fred LaBour, who had been given an assignment to review the Beatles new album, Abbey Road. He decided to incorporate the rumor into the review and on October 14th 1969 published a story in the Michigan Daily.
LaBour’s story supplied a fictional name of the person who had taken Paul’s place, William Campbell; and for a reason that has never been explained, pinpointed the approximate date of Paul’s demise as “early November 1966”.
It was around this time that a new clue was introduced, although there is no record of who actually discovered the clue or when, but someone had the idea to bisect the words Lonely Hearts with a mirror on the Sgt. Pepper cover and they found what might have been the most astounding clue of all.
The clue reads I One I X He Die. It was interpreted as November 9th He Die, again going back to the early November 1966 timeline (Interestingly enough, what really did happen on this date is that John Lennon met Yoko Ono).
After LaBour’s article, the story quickly gained nationwide traction; and found its way to Roby Yonge at WABC in New York where he went on the air with the rumor (and was fired for it).
The rumor then gained global popularity for about two weeks. Then, Life magazine went to track Paul down and found him on his farm in Scotland and ran a cover story stating that Paul was in fact alive.
This makes approximately no sense of course, because it always could have been the replacement saying he was Paul…but no matter, this in large part shut the rumor down and the world went back to waiting for the eventual demise of the Beatles which would come a few months later in April of 1970.
Although the story began to fizzle, there was still enough interest in the rumor that F Lee Bailey did a radio show with Fred LaBour, among others, in late November of ’69.
Some people during this time even pointed back to a recording that had been done earlier in 1969 by Terry Knight entitled Saint Paul, that seemed to allude to something afoot with Paul as well.
What is truly odd about this is that Terry Knight out of nowhere was invited to Abbey Road and witnessed some of the 1968 drama surrounding the Beatles; and then, his resulting song became the one and only song ever published by Maclen music, McCartney and Lennon’s own company.
Heading into the seventies, the Beatles broke up and started their individual careers, occasionally delving into activities that suggested kind of inside jokes, with no one ever really being sure just what they were on about.
Nonetheless, the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead faded from the spotlight as the seventies progressed; there was still a small group who discussed the story at Beatle gatherings but most people had concluded that the rumor was a hoax; possibly a group of coincidences or maybe a hoax perpetrated by the band themselves either to sell records or for their own amusement.
One person who continued on the loonies path was Joel Glazier, who supplied his own theory on Paul is Dead (PID as it was now known) in the Beatles Monthly fanzine Strawberry Fields Forever in the late seventies link.
Glazier added a religious component to the theories of the origins of the rumor and was even prescient enough to have pointed out that John Lennon lived in the building where Rosemary’s Baby had been filmed 11 years earlier, a fact that would become much more macabre after Lennon’s assassination.
After Lennon’s death, a thirst for the nostalgia of the Beatles which would now never reunite took over even more; and there was very little mention of Paul is Dead other than as a once-upon-a-time curiosity throughout the eighties and nineties.
One notable exception to this was Apple records head Neil Aspinall, who founded a company called Standby Films, in part to “set the record straight” about the various aspects of the Beatles stories subject to misinformation through the years.
As the 2000’s dawned, message boards had sprung up to discuss all parts of the Beatles legacy, and with the ability to now post links and graphics online it only made sense that forums would spring up to discuss the Paul is Dead rumor as well. The two most popular forums of the aughts were the sites Nothing is Real and The King is Naked.
TKIN espoused one popular theory and document, and then a group of posters broke away and started Nothing is Real, which was a forum that was a more free flowing set of ideas that perhaps Paul was dead, or he was alive somewhere and had been replaced, or any sort of roll-your-own idea as to what had actually taken place throughout the sixties.
After all, there are all of these clues and there were now web sites that had detailed listings of all clues that had been made widely available. Each of these forums were joined by hundreds, if not thousands, of fans and treasure hunters eager to engage the mystery. One member of each forum was a poster who went by the moniker Apollo C Vermouth.
Apollo conducted himself as an insider, giving cryptic clues trying to point the other members back in a particular direction and insisting that there was indeed a mystery that had not yet been solved, that may or may not have included Paul is Dead as a solution. He never gave the ultimate answer. His penultimate post was an until-this-day unsolved riddle that went as follows.
Once upon a long ago, lived four young lads I’m sure you know. The other three, you know them two. You’ll know me better when this is through.
Before the band was on the run, a natures child followed the sun. And soon the four became a three, a list of clues for those to see. A story told in fine detail, to keep the loonies on the trail. A coin, a sheep, a favored son, were welcomed guest when the day was done.
Now, those days are gone, the stories told, in rivers of ash, and urns of gold. A final hint to all of those, who refuse to see the Emporer’s clothes.
Apollo C Vermouth was the Deep Throat of Beatles Mystery, infuriating some and exhilarating others, insisting that there was an answer, but never fully giving it. Apollo posted infrequently from 2003-2007 on both forums, giving one last post in January of 2008.
IF I MAY INTRUDE, ONE LAST TIME…
I FIND MYSELF QUOTING THIS MORE OFTEN, AS OF LATE…”LIFE’S BUT A WALKING SHADOW. A POOR PLAYER THAT STRUTS AND FRETS HIS HOUR UPON THE STAGE, AND THEN IS HEARD NO MORE. IT IS A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOT. FULL OF SOUND AND FURY,SIGNIFYING NOTHING”………..
FADE THIS SWAN TO BLACK….
LOVE FROM PAUL…
APOLLO C VERMOUTH
He was then heard from no more, then in April of 2008 a board of Nothing is Real members made this post.
According to this group, Apollo C Vermouth was Apple Records head and career long Beatles insider Neil Aspinall, his final post coming as he was dealing with Cancer. If this is the case, and I would put in a personal note that I find these posters and the premise credible, there had been someone posting information for years who had been in the Beatles innermost circle. But lets backtrack for a moment…
In 2006, a foreign poster named Billy started posting on the Nothing is Real forum asking questions about the mystery. He asserted that he was going to make a documentary that would blow everyone’s minds and seemed to be privy to certain hard to find information, and then on November 9th 2006 he posted this–
Known now as Iamaphoney, his (or their) videos started as standard Paul is Dead fare, but started to incorporate very obscure elements that no one had seen before. The Beatles mystery quickly progressed from focusing on Paul to having mystical elements and a subject matter that was less clear. Regardless, it very quickly became evident that Iamaphoney had tapped into a reservoir of Beatles knowledge few had before, and the production of these videos had taken an enormous jump in value.
It had gotten so good so fast, that it started to be whispered that Iamaphoney may have some sort of backing, and may be a group instead of an individual. The PID community was electrified, although many of Nothing is Real’s most knowledgable posters were somewhat skeptical of the clues being presented and bothered that Iamaphoney had taken up so much attention within the community. The Rotten Apple thread on Nothing is Real reached an astounding 240 pages.
Well at some point, a rumor started that Neil Aspinall and his Standby Films had started to fund Iamaphoney, and this was the reason for both the obscure materials they had gotten their hands on as well as the extreme sudden jump in production quality.
At around this same point, Heather Mills was going through her divorce from Paul and made a rather remarkable assertion–that she had a box of evidence and there was “such a fear of the truth coming out”, which dovetailed with Apollo’s and now Iamaphoney’s positions that there was a much more far-reaching mystery still to be solved…and maybe Paul didn’t want it solved.
Presumably the divorce agreement ended Heather’s revelations because she has never spoken out since about any “truth” regarding Paul…however Julian Lennon, probably much more credible than a very upset Heather was during that time, also gave his own hint after being snubbed for McCartney’s wedding, saying the following on Facebook:
Gimme some truth, maybe now its Time to tell the Truth.
At the point that Neil Aspinall died, the Iamaphoney videos kept coming, but the new revelations in the series largely had stopped and it became more of a game in which a revelation was to be uncovered; a revelation whose date would eventually be given as November 9th 2012.
He first promised an interview, teased everyone but didn’t deliver, and this game continued from the time of Aspinall’s death to the Revelation date on November 9th 2012; at which point he released a video stating that he was not allowed to give the answer, breaking the hearts of all those who remained.
Because at this point, not many of the original members of Nothing is Real were active, and The King is Naked had largely closed down. It seemed as if the endless teases and obfuscation carried out by Iamaphoney may have drained the community of its collective spirit, and today the only people really trying to solve the mystery are mostly new members feeding on the threads of yesterday.
Was Iamaphoney really a byproduct of Neil Aspinall and Standby Films? Well a few years ago Sgt. Pepper Code author Redwell Trabant did some investigating and found a link between Iamaphoney and Neil Aspinall link.
The Iamaphoney rumor, going back to 2008, indicated that after Neil died that the project became part of MPL, Paul McCartney’s own firm, and if that were true then the revelations would have stopped because presumably Paul didn’t want any more revealed. It should be noted that Billy Martin, the face of Iamaphoney, has strongly denied having any involvement with MPL.
Today, activity investigating the Beatles mystery has slowed down dramatically; Apollo is gone, Iamaphoney has only posted a couple of videos in the last 6 years; Nothing is Real doesn’t have much activity. But, I’m still trying, for one.
I’m writing a book, I’ve been writing it for 7 years now. At the beginning it didn’t have that much to do with the Beatles, it was just more my own personal journey. But as time has gone by, the Beatles mystery has been incorporated more and more into what I am writing.
On that note I’m fortunate I didn’t finish years ago, because I didn’t think I had the answer then; now I think I might.
Going back to the beginning of this story, I personally believe that although the Beatles sought forgiveness for More Popular Than Jesus, that privately they held a grudge. And became resolved, with no fanfare, to change things…to open the world up to new ideas and a new way of thinking; one in which if they stated their true feelings about religion that they would not be in jeopardy and their careers would not be threatened.
I don’t think personally that they ever intended evil, but only freedom from dogma.
That provides the motivation. When Sgt. Pepper came out on June 1st 1967, the world was already beginning its change. The Beatles didn’t cause all of that, but what Sgt. Pepper did was catalyze it. Apollo C Vermouth insisted for years in his posts, linked to above, that Sgt. Pepper was the key to everything and so much of what followed was in actuality an attempt to point people back in the direction of Pepper to find what had been missed.
This is what I think it was. The death of God, the Is God Dead issue of Time magazine that came out on April 8th 1966. The issue included an obituary for God, written in newspaper style.
As you can see, the obituary has a dateline matching the date of Paul’s so-called death, November 9th, and has a byline of Atlanta. The ATL I’ve circled on the cover and the mirrored drum tell the tale; God is Dead was the Beatles mystery and what they set out to cause.
Is that it? I’m sure there is more, but lets quote Paul McCartney himself; during Apollo’s and Iamaphoney’s heyday he may have gotten a bit loose and let out his own clue, from the song House of Wax.
Hidden in the yard
underneath the wall
buried deep below
…lay the answer to it all. –Paul McCartney (House Of Wax)
I think that’s it. The answer is God is Dead. The answer is ATL. The answer is Time. I’m going to finish my book soon enough. Will it be accepted, and if so will anyone admit to it? I guess we’ll see.