Why don’t We Make Believe It Happened in the Road?

The Many Deaths and Rebirths of Paul McCartney
  • Jerry Glover


At 5:00 A.M. one Wednesday morning in November 1966, Paul McCartney was driving his car in London. Stopping at a set of traffic lights, he turned to look at a meter maid. He didn’t see the lights change ahead of him and another vehicle collided with his car, which burst into flames. Crowds of people gathered around the site of the accident. The person inside was badly mangled and hard to identify. He’d suffered severe head injuries and his teeth were knocked out, so he couldn’t be identified by dental records. All anyone knew was that he was a young man with dark hair. Shortly after the crash, a Paul McCartney look-alike contest was held. The winner was William Campbell, a police officer from Toronto. Campbell underwent plastic surgery and filled in for McCartney, appearing in all the subsequent Beatles photo shoots. Right from the beginning the Beatles began putting clues into their songs to tell their fans of Paul’s death.


Police Officer Severe Head Injury Popular Music Cocktail Party Dental Record 
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  1. 1.
    Barry Miles, Many Years from Now (London: Vintage, 1998), 39.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Most of the information contained within this paragraph is taken from an exhaustive investigation made by Jim Kendall, Robert Pietkivitch, Joel Hurmence, Jay Smith, Jean Gerencer, Charles McGrew, J. Gray, and Saki, who wrote up the results. The full text can be found at The final quote and the amusing detail about the bucket of water is from Peter Brown and Steven Gaines’s The Love You Make (London: Pan Books, 1984).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Or so the story goes. Richard Di Lello’s excellent account of life inside the Beatles’ Savile Row offices, The Longest Cocktail Party, confirms that the idea to plagiarize Mark Twain happened back at Apple. Yet with the extra knowledge of the Beatles’ fragile state at that time, in both creative and business contexts, it is even more appropriate. See Richard Di Lello, The Longest Cocktail Party (London: Popular Culture Ink, 1997).Google Scholar
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    Lawrence Sutin, Divine Invasions, A Life of Philip K. Dick (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), 53.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mikita Brottman 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry Glover

There are no affiliations available

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