Why did the Beatles make so many references within their work to include famous doubles and doppelgangers? Next in the “Doubles and Doppelgangers” series we will be going through a series of blatant “Double Paul” references spanning over several decades.
Sir Paul McCartney has been dubbed one of the greatest singer/songwriters in history. And holds several records in the “Guinness Book of World Records” (Guinness of course leads back to Tara Browne and his influence on “A Day in the Life” lyrics written by Lennon/McCartney). His GBWR titles are as follows: most records sold,most #1s (shared Lennon/McCartney), most covered song, “Yesterday,” largest paid audience for a solo concert (350,000+ people, in 1989, in Brazil). There are so many other honors and awards and titles that Sir Paul McCartney holds, it would be difficult to list all of them. To the point- this is the mark of a busy man. A very busy man whom is very much in the public eye and recognized throughout the world.
He has toyed many times in the past with the idea of there being “Two Paul McCartney’s” in his speech, his song lyrics and music videos, and in his cover art. Why does he keep coming back to this theme? Song after song? Interview after interview? Decade after decade?
Ever Present Past: 2007
Pipes of Peace: 1983
McCartney II and the “Coming Up” video: 1980
Other uses of the “Two Paul McCartney” motif:
“I’ve learnt to compartmentalise. There’s me and there’s famous Him. I don’t want to sound schizophrenic, but probably I’m two people.”
Could there really be two Paul McCartney’s? Or is Sir Paul just using this double identity theme to toy with us “Beatles conspiracy” freaks? Some would claim this is “Faul” trying to get the message out that he had indeed replaced the true Paul McCartney back in 1966. But perhaps we could look at this ever present theme in a different way.
Imagine for a moment you are the manager of the hottest ticket-to-ride pop group in the world in 1964. The Beatles had taken the world by storm, selling millions of records, booked for sold out stadium shows (sometimes 30 shows in a couple of weeks), contracted for dozens of taped interviews, writing number one hits seemingly on a whim, pumping out new record after record every few months. One thing you might be worried about as manager is what to do in case of illness or injury. What might you do if one of your leading men became too sick to sing on stage? Cancel sold out concerts? What if it was an illness that required more than a couple days of recovery time? Throw in the towel?
Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager at the height of Beatlemania was a master at PR and keeping the boys’ image squeaky-clean, (even though subsequent biographies and stories of those who were there reveal that “squeaky clean” was not exactly the boys’ true image). He certainly must have considered the implications of this scenario more than once. A cancellation of a series of shows on the Beatles world tour would be devastating financially, as well as a possible tarnishing of the Beatles popularity and healthy-clean image. This certainly would never do. There is a strong need for protecting your investment- whatever that might entail. Planning for the worst, yet hoping for the best- as they say.
Would it not make sense then, that Mr. Epstein did indeed have a plan in place for a situation such as the above scenario? In live theater productions (particularly traveling ones) this scenario has been considered for decades. Every leading role in a large production has a qualified “understudy” ready to take on the leading roles so that “the show can go on”. This is a regular practice. The understudies know the lines, the choreography, are familiar with the rest of the cast and can carry the show forward in case of the leading actor/actress illness, injury or other need for time off. The Beatles world tours were really not much different than a traveling Broadway show. However, if it was announced beforehand that “Mr. Almost-as-good-as-a-real-Beatle” was taking the stage that evening, you would probably have a lot of disappointed, already highly emotional fanatics complaining, demanding ticket refunds, or worse at the show. The press would most likely have a field day. The need for secrecy in the replacement “understudy” would be of invaluable importance.
Would it be that far of a stretch then to assume that touring doubles were employed in case of that very situation? The doubles would have been trained to take the stage as their appropriate Beatle, would know all the songs, the moves, and even look a lot like their impersonation. A really, really good replica. The best money can buy. When not needed as a stage double, these “understudies” would also be useful as decoys to distract fans and paparazzi while the real Beatles made their escape to safety. A win-win for all involved (except for the duped fans and press).
As discussed in numerous other blogs on this site, it was dangerous being a Beatle at this time. There were numerous death threats, angry-mob type collaborations by all sorts of fanatics and critics alike. Even their most admiring of fans would go to extremes to meet or touch (or rip pieces off of) their favorite Beatle. They would tear them apart if allowed, not because they hated them, but because they loved them so much. The Beatles were as gods to their fans. If there was ever a time to employ Beatles doubles and/or decoys, this was it. And in all honesty, in my opinion, a truly smart move by management. Protect your investment- at all costs.
Paul McCartney is a private man. He sometimes loathed the limelight, and often “disappeared” from the public eye to his various retreats. There were many times when the other 3 Beatles were accounted for, their itineraries often blasted in headlines, But Paul McCartney often was unreachable. What if Paul really enjoyed the freedoms that his “understudy” could provide for him? What if this particular understudy was used much more often than simply in times of illness or dire necessity? For a boring interview? For a photo op? For an album cover photo session- simply for convenience factor, and need of “away time” alone or with a new fling? An excellent alibi for needed rest or other personal reason. What if Paul McCartney used his double A LOT?? Of course, this is all speculation. A fun “what if” scenario to consider. But in my opinion, from all that I have encountered discovering the “Beatles mysteries” and studying various arguments in the “Paul is dead” / “Paul was replaced” factions, this particular “what-if” scenario makes perfect sense, and helps explain a lot of the “Paul is dead” anomalies that are usually brushed off with vengeance by both sides of the argument.
Are there Two Paul McCartney’s? Probably not literally, but one Paul McCartney, and a really “good replica”?… Perhaps. Too far of a stretch? Perhaps. But before accepting or dismissing the idea right away, look for yourself at all the various ways Sir Paul has blatantly hinted at the idea of the existence of more than one Paul McCartney. And as a final thought, I would like to leave you with a very interesting article discussing other celebrities use of doubles in public. Some names mentioned in the article are; Andy Warhol, Jim Carrey, Katy Perry, Madonna and many others. Keep in mind, these were the celebrities and situations in which they were CAUGHT using hired doubles in public situations. How many have gotten away with it? Hiring doubles is really not so far fetched. It has happened numerous times in the past, and surely even now on many occasions, the public usually unaware of any discrepancy at all.
… To Be Continued