2005 – Bruce Springsteen kicks off his solo “Devils & Dust” tour in Michigan, at Motown’s Fox Theatre.
2004 – Slipknot: A 21-year-old Central Michigan University student suffers a fatal heart attack during a Detroit concert by Iowan gore rockers Slipknot. The student’s mother says concert conditions were not to blame for his death.
2000 – In Michigan, Eminem makes a deposition in his mother’s defamation case against him. She says he wrongly accuses her of being a “drug-addled pill-popper.” T
1987 – Michigan’s governor announces an annual “Four Tops Day” to honor the group’s contribution to American music.
Satirical or other references
Batman #222 (June 1970). Cover by Neal Adams.
Batman #222 (June 1970). Cover by Neal Adams.
* The June 1970 issue of the DC Comics title Batman, written by Frank Robbins, parodied the rumour with a story entitled “Dead…Till Proven Alive”, in which it is rumored that “Saul” from the band the Oliver Twists was deceased and replaced with a double. A twist ending revealed that an accident had killed every member of the Oliver Twists but Saul. The album that Robin is holding on the cover of the comic book mimics the back cover image on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
* WMCA radio released a pinback promotional button for their station that read “Paul Lives WMCA Swings”.
* The Rutles, a parody of The Beatles, included a couple of “Paul is dead” parodies.
* The 1972 National Lampoon Album, Radio Diner, featured a short track that, when played backwards, has a voice that sounds like Paul saying, “I’m Dead!”
* A 1983 Saturday Night Live sketch with Eddie Murphy claiming he was the original fifth Beatle spoofed the backward message..
* The Simpsons television show has included many references to it. When McCartney guest-starred on The Simpsons in “Lisa the Vegetarian”, he claimed there was a vegetarian hidden message in “Maybe I’m Amazed”. Over the closing credits the song played with a backmasked lentil soup recipe. At the end, he says “Oh, and by the way, I’m alive.” Also, on one of The Simpsons’ annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween episodes, McCartney’s name appears on a grave seen in the opening.
* John Safran’s Music Jamboree contains a segment about the conspiracy, followed by a mock George Harrison-is-dead conspiracy, following Harrison’s death in 2001.
* The Onion’s Our Dumb Century collection includes a fake headline from January 21, 1981, that reads, “Secret Album-Cover Clues Reveal John Lennon Is Dead.”
* In the film Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks’s character, Sam Baldwin, comes home to find his son, Jonah, listening to an album and declaring “Dad, this is incredible. If you play it backward it says ‘Paul is dead.'”
* In episode 819 of the series Mystery Science Theater 3000, a record player runs backward in a scene of the movie Invasion of the Neptune Men. Crow quips “Paul is a dead man! Miss him! Miss him!”.
* In October 1974, the National Lampoon Radio Hour aired a skit titled “Rip Van Ripple” which told the story of a reporter picking-up a hippie hitchhiker who had gotten wasted in 1966 and passed out for 8 years.
Hitchhiker: Hey, is Paul McCartney still dead?
Reporter: No, he’s alive again.
* The Star Trek Customizable Card Game Alternative Universe expansion set’s “Paul Rice” card reads “daed si luaP” (“Paul is Dead” backwards) next to the copyright information.
* A deleted scene in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story has Jack Black as Paul and he says “Of course I remember, I’m not dead, or am I?”
* In a 1987 edition of American Top 40, host Casey Kasem revisited the “Paul Is Dead” era as a related story to the Bananarama song “I Heard a Rumour”. The following year, Dick Clark featured a similar story on Rock, Roll and Remember.
* An extended version of the theme to the animated sitcom King Of The Hill features a few seconds of silence at the end, followed by Dale Gribble saying “Hank is a dead man. Miss him, miss him.”
* The Batman Adventures Annual 2 from 1995, written by Paul Dini, features Ra’s al Ghul saying an incantation in order to summon the demon Hahhk. Each phrase is a pop culture reference written backwards, among them “Luap Deirub I!” or “I Buried Paul!”
* Many bands have referenced the rumour in their music:
o SR-71 released a song called “Paul McCartney” on their debut album Now You See Inside which references that Paul is dead.
o The Union Underground wrote a song called “Turn Me On, Mr. Dead Man”, a reference to the “Revolution 9” clue “Turn me on, dead man”.
o “You Turn Me On”, a song by Beat Happening, contains the lyrics “Turn me on, dead man,” repeated multiple times throughout the chorus.
o Game Theory released a song called “Turn Me On, Dead Man” on their album Lolita Nation.
o “December Is for Cynics” by the band The Matches contains the lyrics “But Snopes.com said if you play/’Strawberry Fields’ the wrong way/You can hear Lennon’s ghost say/’I buried Paul.'”
o Icelandic teenage-band Retro Stefson wrote a song “Paul is dead” referring to the rumours.
1966 – After topping the Cashbox Magazine Best Sellers Chart two weeks earlier, ? and the Mysterians “96 Tears” reached number one on the Billboard chart. Although he closely guarded his true identity at the time, the man known as Question Mark turned out to be Rudy Martinez, from Saginaw Valley, Michigan.
1965 – Although he swore he would never allow the band to appear on his show again, Ed Sullivan plays host to the Rolling Stones for a second time. To prevent any disturbances among the group’s fans, the Stones are locked in the Ed Sullivan Show studios for the entire day. They perform “The Last […]
1964 – James George “Soni” Sonefeld, drummer for the band Hootie & The Blowfish, is born in Lansing, Michigan.
1954 – In the US House of Representatives, Republican Ruth Thompson of Michigan proposes a bill to ban the mailing or transportation of any ‘obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy disc – or any other article capable of producing sound’ – a thinly disguised attempt to stem the growth of R&B.
1948 – Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner is born in Flint, Mich. He later gave up rock for a gospel career. Mark Fredrick Farner (born September 29, 1948 in Flint, Michigan) is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known as the lead singer and guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, and later as a Contemporary […]