(Highway 61 Entertainment/MVD Video)
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.