On Friday, August 8, 1969, at approx. 11:35 a.m., photographer Ian MacMillan would capture one of the most iconic images in music history. The Beatles Abby Road image, used on the same-titled album cover, would forever become the most famous photo of the band. The band would hold their final photoshoot two weeks later at John's house in Ascot.
The Beatles formed in 1960 in Liverpool with band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The band sparked Beatlemania in 1963 and would be forever known as the most influential band in popular music.
In 1969, photographer Ian MacMillan captured six photos at the Abby Road location. He would climb on a step ladder in the middle of the street as a policeman halted traffic. The Fab Four would walk back and forth three times across the zebra crossing, as McMillan captured them with each crossing. Below, the six images were shared on The Beatles' social media pages.
McCartney viewed the contact sheet of the images and believed the fifth image, of all four walking boldly across the street, was the best one. It featured Lennon leading, followed by Starr, McCartney, and Harrison, with McCartney barefoot and out of step with the others. All but Harrison are featured in the photo wearing designer suits created by Tommy Nutter, a Welsh tailor known for reviving the Savile Row suit in the '60s.
The photo features many bits of symbolism, some true, some made up by fans. The band is seen walking away from the studio in the image, with Lennon leading. This was symbolic as the music recorded for the Abby Road album would be the last for the band. The final studio session with all four would occur on August 20, 1969. Lennon leading is a bit of foreshadowing as he would be the first band member to depart.
A wild theory revolves around the supposed death of McCartney. His shoeless state, which in reality was because his shoes were too tight, would be speculated to be a clue to his death, which was said to have occurred in a car accident in 1966. It was believed that since his "death," he was replaced by a lookalike. Additional "clues" to his death included the plate number on the white Volkswagen Beetle, which reads 28IF, taken to mean McCartney would have been 28 IF he was alive. The order of the band members in the photo was taken to represent the funeral procession, with Lennon as the priest, Starr as the congregation, McCartney as the corpse, and Harrison as the gravedigger. McCartney would parody the wild speculation of his death on his 1993 album cover, Paul Is Live.
The final photoshoot (images below) would take place on August 22 at Tittenhurst Park, John's house in Ascot, Berkshire. Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney attended the shoot, and one of the images from these photos would be used on the Hey Jude LP.
Abby Road, the band's eleventh studio album, would be the last music recorded with all the band members in the studio together, but it wouldn't be the final album from the band. Let It Be would be released in 1970, but all of the music on this album was recorded over a year before Abby Road.
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