In 1967, a rumor emerged that McCartney had been killed in a car crash in London. Although these rumors were addressed in a 1969 interview, this did not put fans' worries to rest. Later that year, an article entitled "Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?" was published in the student newspaper of Drake University. The article addressed the rumour of Paul's death that had been circulating the campus. The conspiracy theory stated that on November 9, 1966 McCartney, after an argument during a Beatles' recording session, had angrily driven off in his car, crashed it, and died as a result. Then to save the public from grief, the Beatles replaced him with William Campbell, the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest. Many conspirators, like college students who wrote articles affirming such beliefs, claimed that there were even clues to McCartney's death in recent Beatles' songs, occasionally through back masking.
In 1969 a Detroit disc jockey, Russ Gibb, discussed the rumor and clues suggesting Paul's death with callers on the air for more than an hour. Two days after the broadcast, The Michigan Daily published a satirical review of Abbey Road by a University of Michigan student under the headline "McCartney Dead; New Evidence Brought to Light". It identified various "clues" to McCartney's death on Beatles album covers, including evidence from their new album Abbey Road. The writer, Fred LaBour, was astonished when the story was picked up by newspapers across the United States, especially since he had invented many of the clues himself. Soon after that, Gibb's radio station further fuelled the rumor with a two-hour special program on the subject called "The Beatle Plot."
Conspirators began to find clues to Paul's death in all of the Beatles' work, even their album covers. Abbey Road was the second to last album recorded before the band broke up in 1970. Despite being regarded as possibly the Beatles best album, Abbey Road is also famous for its cover. Many believe that the album cover was sending a message to the fans concerning Paul's death, regardless of the Beatle defending his identity. There are numerous "clues" conspirators have identified along the front and back album covers.
Many conspiracy theorists believe the cover depicts Paul's funeral with John (dressed in all white) as the preacher, Ringo the mourner, and George (in scruffy denim) as the grave digger. Since Paul was the only member out of step and barefoot, theorist assumed that meant he must be the corpse. However, McCartney refuted this claim saying he had been wearing sandals before, but since it was a hot day, he decided to take them off. Another "clue" theorists found on the cover was the cigarette in McCartney's hand. Paul was left handed, however, he is holding the cigarette in his right hand. This fact, theorists believed, supported their claim that Paul was replaced by a look- a- like. A third clue conspirators found in the Abbey Road album cover was in the registration plate. The white VW Beetle in the background has a license plate reading LMW 28IF – 28 being the age Paul would have been if he hadn’t "died."
Although the Beatles' press office had repeatedly denied the claim for years, rumors truly started to decline when a 1969 issue of Life magazine issued an interview with McCartney in which he stated: "Perhaps the rumor started because I haven't been much in the press lately. I have done enough press for a lifetime, and I don't have anything to say these days. I am happy to be with my family and I will work when I work. I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off. Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days." Although the evidence is nothing but hysteria and over analysis, there are still people who believe Paul McCartney is in fact dead, and William Campbell has taken over his life.