Released last week,
the Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison DVD, on Highway 61/MVD, seeks to revive the controversy
via some cassette recordings allegedly made by George Harrison (who,
conveniently, is still quite dead himself).
By Lee Zimmerman
Wasn’t this crazy
controversy settled some 40 years ago?
To recap, for anyone who missed it the first time around — Paul McCartney
is dead, he was replaced by a look-alike named Billy Shears and all those
so-called clues that graced all the latter Beatles album were clearly clues or
an elaborate mind-fuck, depending on your perspective. Apparently, there are
those who believe there’s money to be made by dredging up this silly affair and
recycling it for the sake of sheer exploitation. According to this new twist on
the tale, a package was received at the Hollywood
office of Highway 61 Entertainment in December 1999 containing two cassette
recordings allegedly made by George Harrison. He reveals therein (gasp) that
Paul did die in a car crash after all. Apparently the mishap took place in
November 1966 after a spat with John Lennon during a recording session at Abbey Road.
McCartney stormed off in his sports car, picked up a hitchhiker who distracted
him when she began making amorous advances, and totaled the car, decapitating
himself in the process. Never mind the fact that Macca lived around the block
from the studio and could have walked the short distance; facts are incidental
when concocting a whale of a tale.
So why did his band
mates wait so long to reveal the truth? According to this nutty narrative,
John, George and Ringo were warned not to reveal the truth so as to prevent an
unprecedented wave of mass suicides among the Beatles faithful. (Hmmm. John and
George’s deaths were rather tragic too, but history doesn’t record a run on
tainted Kool-Aid when they passed.) Presumably the remaining Fabs were so
intimidated by the necessity of maintaining the shroud of silence imposed by
British Intelligence, they opted to keep the secret for the next 44 years,
offering only the ubiquitous clues that were etched on their album covers.
Over the course of
just over an hour and a half, producer/director Joel Gilbert guides the
gullible through this unlikely scenario by recreating the events surrounding
the alleged incident, using Harrison’s
supposed narrative to tie the trajectory together. Truth be told, the speaker
does sound very much like someone trying very hard to imitate the spiritual
Beatle. He reveals that John was killed for threatening to come clean and that
an attack on George and his wife Olivia was also payback for George’s
determination to set the record straight. Wait a minute! Didn’t George die only
a couple of years after making this tape? Coincidence? Yeah… decidedly so.
Of course, there
will inevitably be those who will be lured to purchase this disc merely for its
novelty. For them, there’s some redemption in the accompanying documentary that
traces the summit that took place in London
between the Beatles and Bob Dylan. As for the rest… keep it away from any
sensation-seeking deejay that wants to start the rumors anew.