Spoofs & Satire

State Library and Archives of Florida

Paul Is Death

While the most popular Beatles rumor turned out to be false, making the case for an even more dramatic revelation.

The evidence:


Britain’s National Health Service reports an abnormally high number of heart attacks in and around the center of Liverpool. Most sufferers have no previous heart conditions, yet family members seem strangely unwilling to discuss their loved ones’ health. Officials note that the incidence increases with proximity to Sir Thomas White Gardens, a tenement block, home to one James McCartney, wife Mary, and children Paul and Michael. Around this time, the family moves to the outlying district of Speke. The rate of heart attacks diminishes in short order. The McCartneys are evasive about their frequent moves, all except for young Michael, who tells classmates that his brother is going to get a new guitar “if he doesn’t do the bad things anymore and then we can move back to Liverpool.”

February 1958

Skiffle band contest at Toxteth Town Hall. McCartney is unhappy with low billing of the Quarrymen. Complaints to the contest organizers go unanswered. The Quarrymen place fourth. McCartney congratulates contest winners Dean and the Drovers with handshakes. Soon after, the Royal Southern Hospital reports four severe and identical cases of Raynaud’s disease, destroying blood vessels to the hands and turning the fingers completely white. The four patients are all musicians; years pass before manual dexterity is restored.

Aug. 20, 1959

Mona Best receives a notice from Liverpool health inspectors that an infestation of rats has been discovered at the site of her Casbah Coffee Club, set to open in three days. McCartney is seen entering the building alone on the night of Aug. 26, then driving a covered truck to the Albert Dock. Days later, the club opens and the Quarrymen become the house band at the Casbah.

June 19-20, 1964

Throughout the Beatles’ Australian tour, concertgoers have been throwing jelly babies at the band. Between songs at Sydney Stadium, McCartney asks them to stop. They persist in throwing candy. McCartney: “I hope you realize how hard it is to control myself.” George Harrison shouts, “Yeah, me too!” and blows a kiss. At the next day’s concert, a stuffed koala bounces off McCartney’s face. McCartney stops playing, picks up the koala, holds it aloft, and squeezes it. Blood comes pouring out. A hush falls over the room. The concert proceeds without further incident.

Aug. 15, 1965

Before the famed appearance at Shea Stadium, persons claiming to be Beatles promoters spread a rumor that the band will be waiting on the field after the show to “create an eternal bond” with fans. Security turns away hundreds trying to reach the stage. Fans interviewed later reveal that promoters “looked like the cute one, but shorter and a little deformed.”

November 1966

At the urging of John Lennon, McCartney attends an exhibition by conceptual artist Yoko Ono, whom McCartney has tried to have banned from the Indica Gallery. Upon entering, McCartney breaks out in sweat. He spends the remainder of his time skulking along the walls, in great distress. Lennon guides him over to meet Ono, but McCartney tears away, staggering from one artwork to the next. Before leaving, he is heard to yell, “Strew your glyphs, ocean child! They will not stay my cold hand forever!” McCartney later claims to have been high.

December 1968

A London photographer snaps McCartney as he arrives unannounced at a dinner party given by Lennon and Ono at their Montagu Square flat. The photo shows McCartney loaded with various necklaces and pendants—painted skulls, kanji symbols, etc. Hours later, he is seen running across Marylebone gripping his head and bellowing. Events of the party are not widely remarked upon, except for a capsule in the Londoner’s Diary column of the Evening Standard, which mentions Ono striking up an impromptu vocal recital.


Journalists interviewing designer Gary Grimshaw at his home discover sketches of artwork for something called “The Concert for Jonestown.” McCartney’s face looms in the background. Grimshaw declares the interview over.

Oct. 12, 1980

McCartney invites John Lennon on a canoe trip through the Ozarks to heal their strained relationship. Lennon agrees. On Oct. 21, the F.B.I. reports a bedraggled and bloody Lennon, wearing one boot, stumbling into the field office in Little Rock. He is alternately muttering and shouting about armed protection and getting “back to Yoko, back to Yoko.” Bureau agents manage to calm Lennon, but are only able to coax disjointed statements, including “Sutcliffe was right,” “How long ‘til the vortex claims me?” and “That song—have to find out—have to speak to Charles Manson.” Lennon’s assistants eventually arrive to ferret him away, and the incident is added to the Bureau’s already extensive files on Lennon under “Drug-related.”

Jan. 20, 1982

At Veteran’s Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat he believes is made of rubber. Osbourne gags on blood and tissue, stopping the concert temporarily; he later undergoes extensive rabies treatments. Days after the concert, Osbourne’s management receives a typed note on J.P.M. letterhead:

Dear Ozzy,

Apologies for the surprise test, old chap. All candidates get one. Had to be sure, and now, unfortunately, I am. Don’t call again.

May 17, 1998

McCartney has a long, black cloak tailor-made on Saville Row. He is quoted in Hello! as saying, “Time to stop pretending.” Brief coverage in British tabloids under the headline “Fashion Faux-Paul??”

April 2004

Interviewer at the opening of Stella McCartney’s Gucci store in Mayfair asks “the proud papa” if he ever wishes his daughter had followed in his musical footprints. McCartney’s eyes grow dark. “She will ascend, though she believes it not. Her time will come, and she will continue my intimate embraces. She will make the most beautiful music of all.”

June 2008

Ringo Starr’s personal assistant reports a phone call to Starr’s home in which McCartney invites Starr on a canoe trip to celebrate his birthday. Other details of the conversation are unknown.

July 7, 2008

Ringo Starr celebrates his 68th birthday in Chicago, surrounded by as many fans and cameras as possible. Starr urges the entire world to think positive, peaceful thoughts and make the peace sign. Quote: “Everyone, wherever you are, make this sign. Fork your fingers. Ward off the darkness. You must listen to me.” Chicagoans are overjoyed as Starr spends the next week living in fans’ houses and workplaces.


Clip surfaces of a 1979 Joe Franklin Show featuring McCartney. Franklin asks the origin of the band name Wings. “Well, wings of an angel, aren’t they?” McCartney replies. “Only not every angel has wings.” “I thought they all did,” says Franklin. “There’s at least one who doesn’t,” says McCartney, chuckling and winking. “A fallen angel?” says Franklin. “I—well, yes, I suppose, but another angel in particular,” says McCartney, waggling his eyebrows. Franklin nods slowly. “So…it’s a woman? This angel?” McCartney rolls his eyes. He requests the segment be edited for broadcast.


TMN Contributing Writer Michael Rottman lives like a lord in Toronto. His miscellany has appeared in print in The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Opium, and online at Yankee Pot Roast, Cracked, News Groper, and McSweeney’s. More by Michael Rottman