Day 7 - Abbey Road

I debated long and hard about the final countdown order. Abbey Road is truly the last Beatle album. Though Let it Be would be released in May 0f 1970, it had been recorded in January of 1969. So Abbey Road was the last recorded album and Let it Be the last released. 

Abbey Roady Studios

Abbey Roady Studios

In 1968 my older brother was given a real stereo - I can’t for the life of me remember the make and model - but it had two big speakers. It was downstairs in what was referred to as the playroom, a walnut paneled room with pictures of the Beatles and Dylan on the walls. It was right next to my bedroom which meant I was privy to the teenage conversations of my brother or sister when they had their friends over. This was where I progressed from the first disc of “The White Album” to the second, and where I remember listening so intently to “Abbey Road”.

Unlike the sprawling “White Album”, “Abbey Road” was the Beatles united, though sadly for the last time. The band reached out to their Producer George Martin to say that they wanted to make an album the way they used to. The result was the Beatles at the height of their powers. The album’s first single “Something” was as Frank Sinatra would later quip, his favorite Lennon and McCartney song - it was written by George Harrison. "Something" went on to becomes second only to “Yesterday” as the Beatles’ most covered composition. From the opening “Shoot me” of “Come Together with it’s tight drumming, fluid bass line and Lennon wit, to the satirical “Her Majesty”. The album is packed with musical ideas. The Beatles, joined by Billy Preston on organ, get a down-right jazzy groove on Lennon’s paean to Yoko, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” with it’s svelte guitar solo and bubbling bass.  George’s “Here Comes the Sun” is lovely and immediately unforgettable - a taste of Beatle joy. "Because" has John, Paul and George harmonizing like the early days. And, the final 8 song medley or mash-up of songs called “The End” builds to a fabulous crescendo that includes Ringo’s one and only drum solo with the other three Beatles each soloing on guitar - first Paul, then George, and lastly John. Finally over a single repeated major chord on piano they join in singing -

“And in the End, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Ironically, though there were serious rifts among the band members, the Beatles didn’t know, as they finished recording Abbey Road in August of 1969 that it really was the end.

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

Day 8 - Paul is Dead?

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Perhaps the strangest Beatle related news in my young life came in October of 1969. A rumor had started that Paul McCartney had actually died in a car crash in February of 1966. Instead of reporting his death, the Beatles chose instead to replace Paul with a look-a-like, named either Billy Shears or William Campbell, depending on who you're talking to. To back this up, the conspiracy theorists pointed to dozens of clues in songs and on album covers. 

The Grave Digger, the Corpse, the Mourner and the Priest. Note how Paul is out of step with his mates. You can't see it hear but, the license plate on the Volkswagen Beetle says 28IF meaning had Paul lived he would in 1969 be 28 years old.

The Grave Digger, the Corpse, the Mourner and the Priest. Note how Paul is out of step with his mates. You can't see it hear but, the license plate on the Volkswagen Beetle says 28IF meaning had Paul lived he would in 1969 be 28 years old.

The rumor was apparently started by some college students in the midwest, but quickly spread. A famous trial lawyer at the time, F. Lee Bailey, actually interviewed one of the originators, Fred LaBour, for an hour long radio interview on the subject that was broadcast that fall, LaBour under cross examination by Bailey walked through each of the many clues. When all was said and done, Bailey left it up to his audience to decide for themselves. Of course to die-hard Beatle fans like myself, this was not funny and created additional anxiety as rumors of the bands real demise were also circulating. 

In his YouTube video clip, Jensen Rufe details many of the major clues and ends with an even more outrageous claim.