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50 Years Later, We Know Why Paul McCartney Was Barefoot on ‘Abbey Road’

Spoiler alert: not because he was dead.

Apple Records

Fifty years ago, on August 8, 1969, the Beatles crossed Abbey Road, creating what is without a doubt, the most iconic photograph of the Fab Four, ever. But, because one Beatle in specific was barefoot —Paul McCartney — the legend of why Paul wasn’t wearing any shoes on the cover of Abbey Road spun out of control. But, there is an answer to why Macca went shoeless, and it’s not because he was dead.

Last year, while promoting his upcoming new album (which we loved, by the way) the former Beatle explained once and for all that there was no hidden message behind going barefoot the first time.

In 2018, CNN reported that McCartney showed up at Abbey Road and said “There was no special meaning,” to the fact he was barefoot that day. Instead, he claims it was hot and he kicked off his sandals. Why walking on the hot paved road in bare feet was more comfortable than wearing shoes/sandals is unclear, meaning McCartney has replaced one Beatles riddle with another.

Starting in 1966, the notion that Paul McCartney was secretly dead generated what many consider to be the first fan theory. The short story goes like this: supposedly there are several clues strewn throughout Beatles songs and albums all of which suggest Paul tragically died and was replaced by a lookalike actor named William Campbell. The Abbey Road photo is the apotheosis of this conspiracy theory because it supposedly depicts a funeral procession. John is the priest (or God?), Ringo is a mourner (or a priest?), George is a gravedigger, and Paul is the corpse because he’s barefoot.

Clearly, McCartney is still alive, and perhaps will be forever. And, even when today’s kids are 64, they can still listen to this great album, or — they’re anything like my toddler is right now — they can just admire the awesome cover. For fans who are obsessed with great vinyl reissues of classic Beatles albums, fear not. A huge remastered reissue of Abbey Road is expected in late September, which would correspond with the September 26, 1969 release date of the original album. Yeah. That’s right. They took the picture on August 8, but the album came out a little bit later.

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