Ex-Beatle McCartney recalls 1960s death rumors

The Beatles in an undated promotional photo. REUTERS/File

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Former Beatle Paul McCartney has described rumors that he had died, which surfaced more than 40 years ago, as “ridiculous” and an “occupational hazard” for a member of one of the world’s biggest bands.

The conspiracy theory began in October, 1969, when a Detroit-based DJ claimed that the three other Beatles -- Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison -- had recruited a lookalike replacement for McCartney after he died in 1966.

He argued that because the man “posing” as McCartney on the cover of the Beatles’ 1969 album “Abbey Road” had bare feet meant it represented a corpse, and that the number plate on a car in the photograph was LMW 28IF -- denoting McCartney’s age, if he had lived.

“It was funny, really,” McCartney, 67, told MOJO music magazine in an interview. “But ridiculous. It’s an occupational hazard: people make up a story and then you find yourself having to deal with this fictitious stuff.

“I think the worst thing that happened was that I could see people sort of looking at me more closely: ‘Were his ears always like that?’”

He said that he had bare feet in the famous record sleeve image because he had kicked off his sandals, and that the car parked in the background was “random.”

“It was madness,” he recalled.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; editing by Patricia Reaney