Just yesterday the British government announced that the pedestrian crossing outside Abbey Studio in London will now be a site of national importance. So, I decided to bring you the photograph that is the reason behind this decision of British authorities. This otherwise ordinary zebra crossing was made world famous when four men walked on to it during a photo shoot on 8th August 1969, at 11.35am. Alright. So what? Every day millions of people cross pedestrian crossings around the world. What was so illustrious about those four men crossing the road? Well, that is right, but ever since these four men have crossed the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing -the place has gained the status virtually of a pilgrim site. Ever since million of visitors have come to this very crossing and have tried to imitate the steps of those four men.
All this happened because these four men were none other than the members of British rock band, The Beatles! On 8th August 1969, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr walked to cross this zebra crossing for a photograph for the cover of their last recorded album Abbey Road. Photographer Iain Macmillan was hired for taking the photo. He took six photos on that day and the fifth one was chosen for the album cover because it showed all four men in steps forming perfect V shapes with their legs. For these six shots the Beatles crossed the crossing three times round (left to right and right to left again). Paul McCartney came for the photo-shoot wearing sandals but he removed them after two shoots.
After the album was released suddenly a rumor started that Paul McCartney was dead. Created around this photograph, the rumor was that Paul had died in a car accident in 1966 and the Beatles had replaced him with an impostor and, therefore, Paul McCartney visible in this photograph was not the real Paul McCartney. Conspiracy theorists believed that this photograph was released as a symbol of funeral procession of Paul. It was claimed that this photo gives a number of clues that Paul was dead. Sample a few:
- Paul was walking bare-feet; In England dead bodies used to be buried bare-feet at that time.
- A white Volkswagen car is parked on the left side of the crossing. The number plate reads: LMW 281F… It was said that LMW stood for “Linda McCartney -widowed” (Linda was Paul’s wife)… Also “281F” was seen as a sign that Paul would have been 28 years old if he was alive.
- Album’s back-cover showed a Beatles sign with a crack in it. It was assumed to be a sign that the band was no longer complete.
It became a popular pastime to look for clues indicating that Paul was dead! Eventually when Paul gave an interview —the rumors began to die down.
Some more interesting facts about the Beatles:
- The Beatles recorded most of their songs in the Abbey Studio
- They are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed popular music band
- The Beatles have been so enormously popular all over the globe that a term “Beatlemania” has been coined to refer to their popularity
- Once John Lennon proclaimed that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. As a result the band suffered a huge backlash from religious groups in the United States. South Africa also banned airplay of Beatles records until 1971.
- The Beatles have won 7 Grammy Awards and 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
- They toured internationally in June 1964. They played 32 concerts over 19 days through Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
I hope you enjoyed the story behind this iconic photo of the Beatles walking across a zebra crossing. Please share your comments on this photograph. I value the feedback of my readers. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next iconic photograph!