Is it true that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a look-a-like, or was this really just a conspiracy theory? Is there any proof either way, or all just speculation?

"Paul is dead" is an urban legend alleging that Paul McCartney of the English rock band The Beatles died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. In September 1969, American college students published articles claiming that clues to McCartney's death could be found among the lyrics and artwork of The Beatles' recordings. Clue hunting proved infectious and within a few weeks had become an international phenomenon. Rumours declined after a contemporary interview with McCartney was published in Life magazine in November 1969. Popular culture continues to make occasional reference to the legend.


  • 6
    Elvis isn't dead, nor is Jackson... It's all a conspiracy. – Thomas O May 3 '11 at 17:16
  • Couldn't you apply this to anyone, i.e. Is Abraham Lincoln dead, or did Booth shoot a look-alike, and the real Lincoln is being kept alive by aliens? Is there any proof either way? – fred May 3 '11 at 17:51
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    May I suggest this picture? – Oliver_C May 3 '11 at 18:15
  • @fred: I guess you could. I don't recall a conspiracy concerning the status of Lincoln's life, I'm fairly sure everybody agreed he was dead. – Tester101 May 3 '11 at 18:19
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    Without reference to a specific claim being made on the basis of some evidence somewhere it's hard to take this question seriously. – eMansipater May 3 '11 at 18:22

Officially pronounced dead? is a site dedicated to the conspiracy. In the page "Paul is Alive" they effectively debunk the legend by providing a very detail image comparison of pre-1996 and post-1966 Paul, including his face, but also piano and bass posture.

Paul is NOT dead

Also, Macca Funhouse has a whole forum dedicated to debunking the myth, each additional variation, etcetera. Please read more over there.

If Paul was replaced, sure fooled everyone fast. Within a week of his supposed death, his replacement is recording Penny Lane/When I'm 64 in the studio (already the best Paul sound alike/play alike in history before or since), and photos are taken (no surgical scars) and he is out and about on the London club scene. Of the many hundreds and probably thousands of people that saw him clubbing and doing interviews and other promos in London and during his US trip not long after, not a single human being reported that he looked or sounded like a different person.

(this is just an example)

In my opinion: Absence of evidence is evidence of absence

The claim is not supported by convincing evidence and therefore the following image of Sir Paul McCartney shot in 2010 is enough to prove differently:

Paul McCartney live in Dublin. Image courtesy of Fiona via Wikipedia

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    But how do we know that it not a picture of his look-alike? (I kid, of course) – fred May 3 '11 at 17:50
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    I will only answer comments that come with proof that the poster is alive ;-) – Sklivvz May 3 '11 at 17:52
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    @fred Actually that's a good question. The answer is that we don't. We don't know that we're not a bunch of brains sitting in vats of fluids on a shelf either. However, we expect that it's not true as that terribly overcomplicates something that appears simple. There's also no way to prove one way or the other within that context, so it's not scientific, and is therefore rejected. – Brian Knoblauch May 3 '11 at 18:11
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    @Brian I think we'd do better to demand Descartes' criteria ;) – eMansipater May 3 '11 at 18:24
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    Geez, people, how come it takes you all forever to point out that Paul McCartney is a singer, not a photo model? It's one thing to find a look-alike, and a different thing entirely to find a look-alike who is also a sound-alike (singing with the same voice, talking in the same dialect, playing the same instruments). – RegDwight May 4 '11 at 15:19

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