Author's Note: This is a slight rework of a blog I wrote for the 50th anniversary in 2019 - thought it was worth a repost on a slow news day!
Fifty-two years ago yesterday, on August 8th, 1969, The Beatles crossed Abbey Road during a photoshoot for their upcoming record of the same name, and Scottish photographer Iain MacMillan snapped the above photo – now one of the most iconic shots in history. Not Beatles history, not album cover history, not music history, just…history.
Obviously, the shot is very simple: the Fab Four walking across the street, dressed to the nines. That's it. However, it has been dissected endlessly for a half a century now. Are there clues to the ‘Paul is Dead’ conspiracy theory?! Is that why Paul is barefoot?! I mean McCartney, a well-known lefty, is holding his cigarette in his right hand! What does that mean?! Who are the people in the background?! Do the numbers on the license plates of the cars represent anything?! They must, right?!
Well…actually, according to all involved - this is all complete and utter nonsense.
Paul even parodied the cover (and conspiracy theory) in 1993, for his live album, ‘Paul is Live'….
Oh, and all the people featured in the background of the original shot? Just complete randos! How about that?!
They’ve all been identified by now, of course, but none of them appeared to be particularly huge Beatles fans, and the man on the right-hand side of the record, Paul Cole, says he didn’t even know who they were! He’s an American (go figure), and he thought they looked like nothing more than a bunch of “kooks”.
On the left-hand side stands a gaggle of building decorators who just so happened to be outside while the shot was taken, lucky for them, being there were only six TOTAL photographs shot that day!
Some more fun facts about the iconic cover before I get outta here….
-The Beatles are pictured walking AWAY from Abbey Road Studios, not towards it.
-The ~ACTUAL~ reason Paul McCartney isn’t wearing any shoes is because the sandals he showed up in that day were too tight.
-On the back cover of the album, there’s another shot taken at the other end of Abbey Road…
-Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the last photoshoot John, Paul, George, and Ringo did together.
That honor belongs instead to one at John’s Tittenhurst Park house in Ascot….
-Paul McCartney was the Beatle who came up with the idea for the album artwork, and he even sketched out his vision beforehand….
-Finally, ‘Abbey Road’ is the only Beatles release in the UK that didn’t feature their name of the name of the album itself on the cover, and the record label was shitting their pants about this before John Kosh reassured them it'd be alright.
He later said, “We didn’t need to write the band’s name on the cover…they were the most famous band in the world!”