Paul Is Dead Open Thread

Michael Gerber
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In case you hadn’t noticed, here at Dullblog, we live to serve. One of the topics that seems to be of persistent interest — particularly to Beatle fans under 40 — is the theory that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. (My personal theory is that Paul committed suicide so he wouldn’t have to go through the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.)

While there are lots of places to discuss PID on the internet, I’m creating this open thread so that people who want to dig into all the ins-and-outs of this theory have a place to do so. PID comments that stray into other threads will be moved here.

Please remember to adhere to community standards of civility and respect. Even though PID is a pretty wild topic, our moderation policies still apply.

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  1. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Paul is most certainly not dead. In fact, he will appear in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie:

    • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

      I just love your comments so much, Sam. 🙂

      • Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

        Thank you Karen, your comments are always great.

        I’ve been a Beatle fan ever since I heard them on our small kitchen radio and saw them on Ed Sullivan. I had older siblings who bought the early records; our house was full of Beatle music. I used to sing along with the records when I was six years old, and I drew Beatle comic books (unlike the Daily Howl, these were not preserved).

        The “Paul Is Dead” fad: I never believed it. But here’s what always puzzled me: Why the Beatles? Why did a group that was all about love and positivity and creativity inspire death rumors and Manson obsessions and ultimately Chapman’s atrocity? There were plenty of other bands who made a career of flirting with disaster.

        All I can figure is whenever and wherever there is great talent, the untalented attach themselves. The trick is for the talented to survive any damage the untalented can inflict.

        And despite the silliest of rumors, Paul has survived. You gotta love him for that.

        • Avatar DPS wrote:

          Why The Beatles? Because they planned and executed it! Why do I know this? John Lennon himself….”here’s another clue for you all, the Walrus was Paul!” That was in 1968, the PiD rumor didn’t start until 1969. Case closed. 🙂

        • Avatar Chantal wrote:

          The ‘why’ has often puzzled me, as well. My best guess would be: disenchantment.

          The Beatles got famous not just for their music, but for their entire image, as well. People forgave them their cheekiness, rude comments, womanising, and other transgressions because they were so loveable. Paul in particular played a huge role in mollifying the critics; for every faux-pas John made, and for every scowl out of George, Paul was there to offset it with a wink and a smile. The Cute Beatle saved the day more than once.

          So, imagine the disillusion when, after they stopped touring, the cute image was the first to go. All of a sudden, those four lads everyone loved were openly talking about drugs, involved in scandals, and looking like a bunch of unkempt hippies. In short: the four-headed monster turned into four individuals with less than charming qualities.

          Now, people probably were quite able to accept the people John, George, and even Ringo became. But to see Paul McCharmley go down the same path, that must have been more difficult to handle for many fans. He was always the nice one, and here you have him talking about LSD and binbagging his long-time girlfriend and fiancee Joan, who most people adored, only to up and marry an American single mum, who drags him off to a farm in Scotland to live the hippie life.

          I really do think the fact that the Fab Four stopped being the Fab Four and instead grew up into four not-quite-so-fab individuals planted the seed from which PID grew. People couldn’t accept the new status quo, especially concerning Paul, so they had to somehow preserve the Beatle Paul they loved so much. If a person dies, they never change. We can remember them as they were, perfect in our eyes, instead of acknowledging their faults. So, there lies the ‘necessity’ for the myth: If Paul died in 1966, when he was still the cute moptop we all knew and loved, then he never turned into that weird hippie who turned out to be so flawed.

          I mean: the timing fits perfectly, right? The date he supposedly died perfectly coincides with the end of the Fab Four era. How convenient is it, that Paul ‘died’ right before he grew that ghastly moustache and started displaying his ‘unique’ sense of fashion?

          Once people decided that his death was the only explanation for him turning into a person they didn’t like, finding the clues to confirm that idea was easy. I bet there are just as many clues on their previous albums, just as you can find ‘evidence’ for any conspiracy anywhere. All you have to do is cherrypick, and give an interpretation to unrelated things, so that they become related. I believe that’s exactly what the myth is all about.

        • Avatar Chantal wrote:

          Edit: Jane, not Joan. It’s early and I’ve just gotten out of bed….

    • Avatar Matt wrote:

      Aha, yes. But P.i.D.ers have already latched on to the fact that Macca will be appearing in the ‘Pirates’ movie that refers to ‘dead men’ in its title. This is a clue apparently.

  2. Avatar DPS wrote:

    Having read Batman #222, I know for a fact “Saul Cartwright” is ALIVE!

    • Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

      DPS, I’m old enough to remember when Batman #222 first came out. I bought it and saved it. As I recall, it was a two-part issue. I remember thinking at the time I should take extra care in saving it, as it might be historically significant someday. And now I can’t find it.

      We moved back in 2013, and I hope I haven’t lost those comics. I’m guessing they’re somewhere in our house; I’m just not sure exactly where.

      I remember at the time being fascinated with the art work. Some of the drawings are spot-on caricatures of JohnPaulGeorge&Ringo, while others don’t look like them at all. I don’t remember who the artist was, but he didn’t have the Mort Drucker/Mad Magazine facility for perfect caricature.

      I also remember that this was a time when the Batman/Superman/DC comics were trying to reinvent themselves as socially “relevant” and so had characters appearing in nehru jackets and love beads. It was around that time they did a remake of the first Batman comic, and tried to update it with a late 1960s sensibility which seems today more dated than the original comic.

      Part of me wants to tear up my house now to find those two comic books, and part of me is too damn tired to make the effort. Maybe in twenty years, if I’m still alive, I’ll see if I can find those comic books. Or maybe after I’m gone my sons will find them before the estate sale.

  3. Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

    Hello everyone,

    Commenter Chica just posted, on the “Were John and Paul Lovers?” thread, a reference to an interview with Ringo Starr in which he allegedly said Paul was dead and he was the last Beatle. Here’s what I found out through looking it up online — I’m adding it here because it’s relevant to this conversation.


    Here’s a link to a piece on the Daily Mirror site that says the “interview” with Ringo was satire. The “interview” originally appeared on WorldNewsDailyReport, which cited “The Hollywood Inquirer” as the source. Here’s what the Mirror has to say:

    “The Hollywood Inquirer doesn’t actually exist, and Ringo Starr certainly hasn’t granted them an exclusive interview. WorldNewsDailyReport is a satirical news website and is for entertainment purposes only.”

    • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

      To piggyback here on Nancy’s comment, many PID’ers cite this research by Gabriella Carlesi and Francesco Gavazzen, who examined photographs of McCartney pre and post 1967 and who apparently concluded that the photos don’t match. Interestingly, someone by the name of R. Gary Patterson contacted a member of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who had trained at the Body Farm, in Knoxville. Here’s what this forensic expert said:

      The resolution of the pictures is not comparison quality- different angles are not a scientific way to examine photographs, especially to back up an argument. Different angles are there to give an overall view only but not for comparison. It has to theoretically be an exact [replica] of the one you are comparing it against.

      Changes in muscle movements in various photographs cannot be seen with the naked eye but can change measurements if you are comparing only photographs. That is why, unless you can see beneath the skin to the actual muscle, you cannot say precisely what a facial measurement is especially using two photographs that are that dissimilar in expression for comparison.

      Facial identification and reconstruction is a very complicated process, which requires measurements using actual human skeletal remains not
      photographs. Even anthropologists have difficulty sometimes reconstructing the depth of tissue around the eyes and nose to fully determine the person’s weight. This website has attempted to take photographs and apply scientific principles in forensics that are just not applied that way.

      Eye color can be manipulated very easily and Paul could have contacts in or anything in those photos of eye comparison-that is a very weak argument when calling your claims forensic science.

      Also with the eyes, you cannot compare photos of eyes where in one picture the person is looking in a different direction. There again, I am referring to comparison photographs used in forensics. Those photos have to be as near exact as possible.

      Ear identification-which they refer to on their website has not been an accepted science. Refer to It explains a few of
      these principles. Holland had a case of ear id. Inspector Van der Lugt testified to the id of an individual based on ear evidence. You can find this at​site/​ID/​IDearNews.html. It talks about the fallibility of this idea. After all characteristics that forensic scientists
      look for in identifying are INDIVIDUALIZING characteristics not CLASS characteristics like the antitragus, tragus, helix, helix rim, and antihelix The court just could not accept his testimony because this is not yet a clear, concise science.

      When you consider the fallibility of this forensic “evidence”, together with the galactic impossibility of finding an exact clone of a world-famous person in looks, talent, etc., one can easily dismiss PID as a conspiracy theory gone wild.

      • Avatar Rose Decatur wrote:

        Karen, this will seem forward as I am already married, but will you accept my proposal? 😉 You posted exactly what I was going to!

        The thing that gets me about those PID photo analyses is that aside from being sloppy from a scientific angle – and not using anything remotely akin to forensic science – they seem to ignore the existence of photo editing. The mysterious color changes or angle differences they seem to see are explained by color correction and resizing/cropping (which is done to every photo we see, unless we’re working from the actual verified negative). I’ve even seen photos on PID sites that have been flipped direction from the originals (without the posters apparently being aware).

        I’ve written here before, but what prevents me from thinking PID is just some fun diversion (which I know that most of the online adherents consider it as, they don’t actually believe Paul is dead) is that it involves imagining something terrible happening to someone who is very much real. It was sobering to both read Mike McCartney’s account of being forced to listen to a PID “expert” on a U.S. talk show in 1969 and to hear the audio of his reaction on the show. It was a reminder that to the very real people who love Paul McCartney the human being, there is no “fun” in such a game.

        • Avatar Chantal wrote:

          Exactly. Someone posted a blog oh HD a while back, stating PID was merely fun, and should be treated as such.

          Well, I disagree.

          Terrible things are being said about real people. I’m not just thinking about the abusive language aimed at ‘Faul’, who we all know is Paul, but that alone is enough to make you physically ill. I can laugh at the ‘used car salesman’ thing. After all, Paul’s style hasn’t always been the best and he’ll probably be the first to agree on that. I can even snigger at someone saying ‘Paul died, because women stopped being attracted to him after 1966’. That one is just silly; I know women of all ages who are still attracted to Paul, even with his saggy skin, liver spots, and questionable hairstyle.

          It’s when people throw around accusations of (conspiracy to) murder, paedophelia, identiy theft, and other major crimes, that the meme stops being funny. When people start muttering things akin to ‘someone should teach that impostor a lesson’, that’s when it becomes outright frightening. We’ve seen it with George and John: one deranged individual can do serious harm. Paul is relatively accessible: he walks the streets every day, sometimes uses public transportation, and does other things that make him an easy target for anyone who wants to harm him.

          It must be a drag, not just for Paul, but for everyone around him. Mike, indeed, had given several interviews on the subject. He’s tried to use humour to show the preposterous nature of the myth, and even that gets used as ‘evidence’ because ‘Mike said, he last saw Paul at his funeral, so he admitted it’. No, it’s called humour, and it went over your head. But don’t tell them that, because you’ll be labeled a disinfo agent.

          There is no fun in it at all.

          • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

            Chantal, I’d add that believing PID also involves seeing John, George, and Ringo as long-term liars. It necessitates seeing vast numbers of others (George Martin, McCartney’s family, etc.) as dupes or cynical members of a conspiracy. Basically, it entails taking a smaller, meaner view of pretty well everyone connected to the Beatles.

            Combine this with the near-fundamentalist fervor with which some PIDers explain evidence away, and I find the whole thing profoundly depressing. In high school I watched a friend succumb to belief that the Illuminati were about to take over the city where we lived, and that experience has led to my having a lasting distaste for irresponsible conspiracy theories. I believe such theories can do significant harm not only to those featured in them, but also to people who become true believers of them.

          • Avatar Chantal wrote:

            I completely agree, Nancy. I didn’t want to venture into that as early in the morning as I wrote that post, but I am in absolute agreement on that.

          • Avatar Michael Gerber wrote:

            I hope this reassures people, I mean it to: PID is an internet phenomenon. I have met a LOT of Beatles fans, and a LOT of JFK assassination people (whom one might assume — often wrongly, as it turns out — to be comfortable with outrageous tales), and not one of them has ever mentioned PID.

            We mustn’t give this view too much power. If people choose to believe it, that is up to them — but the idea of “crazy people taking over the world” is also an internet phenomenon. A vanishingly small number of Beatles fans honestly believe that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. Those that do put up websites, and the echo-chamber makes it sound louder.

        • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

          Ha–I accept Rose. 😉

          The photo “analysis” on PID sites is just sad. PID’ers search for “clues” which are in line with what they already believe. Confirmation bias is rampant.

          The larger question, of course, is why people believe it. Here’s a good article on the psychology of conspiracy theory:

          The common thread between distrust and cynicism, as defined in these experiments, is a perception of bad character. More broadly, it’s a tendency to focus on intention and agency, rather than randomness or causal complexity. In extreme form, it can become paranoia. In mild form, it’s a common weakness known as the fundamental attribution error—ascribing others’ behavior to personality traits and objectives, forgetting the importance of situational factors and chance. Suspicion, imagination, and fantasy are closely related.

          • @Karen, to me, the very idea of “conspiracy theory” is an unhelpful concept, and the idea that there’s “a psychology” behind it, even less so.

            The only intellectually sound way to address contested history is to dig into the evidence and come to the most likely conclusion. The theory that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone is not the most likely conclusion; it is, to be frank, only believed by dead-enders like John McAdams and the MSM (which totally missed the story in the first place, suddenly switched to the conspiracy side during the Watergate era, and switched back after Reagan). The Oswald theory is refuted by a mountain of basic evidence, despite a concerted effort from the very beginning (Katzenbach’s memo on 11/24/63 is a great example of this) to reject or distort any data that did not fit that conclusion.

            JFK’s murder was a crime, just like someone breaking in to a house and stealing a TV set; anybody who equates that with UFOs or Bigfoot isn’t being honest. And if people don’t see the inherent conflict of interest built into a government body investigating an assassination, they are simply foolish. It is not cynical to assume that people work in their own best interests, and to call that cynicism is peculiar.

            Whoever pulled the various triggers, one cannot understand the PID phenomenon without acknowledging the psychological damage the assassinations inflicted on the Boomers; nor the acknowledged programs run by the FBI and CIA to suppress liberal/left dissent; nor the tendency of heavy drug use to instill paranoia.

          • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

            “Karen, to me, the very idea of “conspiracy theory” is an unhelpful concept, and the idea there’s “a psychology” behind it, even less so.The only intellectually sound way to address contested history is to dig into the evidence and come to the most likely conclusion. ”

            First, I’m talking about delusional beliefs, not rational suspicion. And there ARE absolute psycho-social underpinnings to delusional beliefs. There’s simply no dispute about that.

            The JFK assassination was an AMERICAN phenemena; one cannot assume that it affected non-Americans in the same way it affected Americans. Conspiricism, on the other hand, is world-wide and culturally indifferent; what binds all conspiracy adherents together is a fundamental distortion of their personal psychology and how that affects their world view.

            And to say that the only way to address contested history is to dig into the evidence assumes that the person is psychologically capable of doing so. We’re not talking about reason, here; reasonable people who have logical reasons to be suspicious; we’re talking about people hanging on to a belief regardless of its irrationality and in spite of all logic to the contrary. I think it’s important to make that distinction.

          • Fair points, but here’s the sticking point:
            “people hanging on to a belief regardless of its irrationality and in spite of all logic to the contrary.”

            What’s delusional and what’s rational depends on the speaker and the context, and too often depends on authority. For example, in the late 60s, it was commonly asserted by hippie-types that their rallies were being infiltrated by government agencies. At the time they were dismissed as paranoid freaks…until we learned that was exactly what was happening.

            To me, it is totally rational to believe that heads of state are murdered for political reasons; and the more one learns about that particular event, the more plausible it becomes. Yet the American MSM regularly groups political murder in with supernatural, cryptozoological, and religious beliefs. That is completely irrational, and begs the question, “Why?” Why, for example, are we discussing political murder in a thread about PID? The only possible connection is the idea of “conspiracy thinking,” which to me is not so useful.

            There are conspiracies, and there are fantasies — the trick is finding the difference. The problem is that people like Bill Saletan, websites like Slate, and the MSM they grew from aren’t interested in telling the difference — for structural reasons they too often disregard their societal watchdog function. And it’s these very structural reasons that keep the question under debate; if the American media and academia had done its job in 1963-64, we would know what happened (and yes, it’s possible Oswald did it — but vanishingly unlikely).

            With all the damaging irrational beliefs in the world — “the Invisible Hand” and trickle-down economics, to name two; God having an opinion about what you do with your genitals, to name another — the MSM pours scorn on those interested in solving a political murder-mystery. Seems worth commenting on, if you ask me — while still agreeing that there are lots of crazy people who believe crazy things.

          • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

            Fair points, but here’s the sticking point:
            people hanging on to a belief regardless of its irrationality and in spite of all logic to the contrary.

            My description was not intended to describe every single instance of a suspected conspiracy, and I’m not suggesting that all suspected conspiracies are delusional. People who believe that Paul McCartney died and was replaced by his exact clone ARE hanging on to a belief, regardless of its irrationality, and in spite of all logic to the contrary. If you have a better way of describing it, I’m all ears.

          • Not arguing with you, @Karen. My problem is with Saletan.

          • Avatar Dan wrote:

            Michael, did you ever read the ‘Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon’ book?

          • When it was online, I read a bit.

  4. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Open thread? Here’s one of my favorite Beatle covers: Elvis Costello, Live Aid 1985, his version of an old English folk song:

  5. Avatar King Kevin wrote:

    People love conspiracy theories. PID is really no different than the moon landing “hoax” or an of the other dubious stuff that exists out there. These things seem to become cottage industries for their purveyors, who sell books and documentaries. The fact that it lives on and on is really the only interesting aspect of it for me.

  6. Avatar Matt wrote:

    Dare any one tap Ringo on the shoulder and remind him (if we’re to assume that Paul is ‘dead’) that he isn’t the only remaining surviving Beatle… Pete Best is still with us!!

  7. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    Once I got onto PID sites and respond to PID trolls on Beatles/Paul comments, I lists these various issues but always forget his 65 moped front tooth cap issue noted in earlier and later Paul pics but in old age seems to have had dental implants. I have such a large collection of early/later and solo Beatles and Paul mags/real photos/books/posters and had gone through them several times through years doing my own comparisons. However, seeing so many computer doctored and photoshopped pics had me doubting my self, so went through again, and hate to burst PID bubble, but is the same man.

    On your Paul is dead post, I want to add comment that stumbled into extreme PID sites when trying to research the tru Paul meeting Mark Lane JFK book author in 66. The videos and comments on those sites as well as constant PID comments on regular Paul and Beatles videos have cause me on several occasions to write YouTube misinformation reviewers with PID specific channels and sites. I TRULY fear for Paul’s safety, and after John and George this is not paranoid. Many PID sites are WAY out, emphasizing occult, tavistocked sixties musicians, particularly the Beatles and Paul.

    Despite Paul having lifelong physical anomalies: height same but boot heel elevation affects and perspective in some pics, side view bent spine with slight back hump, same skull shape, when thinner upper thighs then, same hazel eyes but dark in back/white photos, same jawline, nose( except different in some old age cosmetic plastic surgery st times), same skull shape, left iris always smaller, left level slanted down, except in old age extraordinary vocal range, and expert voice analysis of younger and later Beatles providing SAME man, PIDers persist, as they cite documentaries that are fake/ or propaganda, fake Italian study later computer checked and is fraudulent, dubbed videos some even PIDers admit are fake, They cite sheers memoirs as proof and internet notes written by former religious book writer: Paul sacrifice/faul risen Christ. PIDers don’t agree but many believe Billy hey call him, hoaxers original William Campbell first, Billy sheers, Billy Shepherd British fanzine writer the standfall bongo dog dude Macca sub. The DO NOT DO SCIENCE or FACTS, are almost ALL under 40, and believe other conspiracies, as a gullible bunch and generation.

    It would be kooks and all OK except for extreme vitriol against Paul. They spend hours trolling and commenting on Beatles/Paul sites. I see many of the same names, and am amazed as if I think some an imposter I would not waste time. That the PID videos and comments were so horrific are was moved me to contact youtube with lists. Otherwise, a study in PID would be urban legend and as renewed by alt righters on reddit that ballooned to youtube, it is a textbook example of fascist historical denigration of Paul and the Beatles as emblematic of liberalism and the sixties ideals. Were it not for extreme hatred and vitriol against Paul, it would be interesting as urban legend belief and sociologically indicative of our time.

    Ex wife Heather pedo references to like em young could mean HER as much younger than him, shamelessly doctored and photoshopped pics, etc, but after 53 long years no official valid death certificate. Hoax inventors first and last names on line and admitted inventing name of fictional substitute. John admitted clues hippie joke about ego killing effects of acid finally got Paul to take and probably allegory of death old old group and Paul main teen idol, rebirth of new Beatles.

    P,S, I meant to add earlobes same, I have VERY large Beatles and solo mag, book, posters and real pics but fans/fan clubs in my lifeline physical anomalies features review I did and if didn’t add, computer expert voice analysis early, late Paul proves same man. Please feel free to edit my comment, as do want core points addressed and know that your site edits anyway. You all are so knowledgeable in Beatleology and very educated in general I can tell by your commentary and comments as necessary.

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