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Unseen Beatles photo to be auctioned and disproves one of many myths surrounding the Fab Four

The unseen Beatles photo to be auctioned
The unseen Beatles photo to be auctioned Copyright Wessex Auction Rooms
Copyright Wessex Auction Rooms
By David Mouriquand
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A press pack containing a never-before-seen Beatles photo from the 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' shoot is to go up for auction for the first time. It disproves one of the many myths surrounding the Fab Four.

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A 39-year-old press pack for a planned 1984 reissue of 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' is going on the auction block on Friday 18 August.

The package includes a previously unseen photo from the album cover shoot which disproves a long-standing rumour that Paul McCartney did not attend the photo sessions for The Beatles‘ iconic 1967 record.

The myth started when the album’s back cover showed McCartney with his back turned to the camera, leading many fans to believe that he was replaced with a stand-in, with his likeness being added after the fact.

The EMI Records Memorandum provides a description of the photos included in the press pack and says: “The spotlight shot was done in Manchester Square in 1963/1964 and the Sgt Pepper shot (1967) is an alternative back cover shot. It is interesting to note that it disproves the theory that Paul McCartney was not at the sessions (hence only his back appearing on the original sleeve).”

Wessex Auction Rooms
The photo showing Paul McCartney at the photo shootWessex Auction Rooms

Martin Hughes, a music specialist at Wessex Auction Rooms, believes the press pack could sell during the online auction for between £5,000 and £10,000 (€5,800 - €11,600).

He said: “This is one of the coolest Fab Four-related items that I have had the pleasure of cataloguing. Whenever I sell rare Beatles lots at auction there is a bidding war – but with a lot something as unique as this, I am expecting interest from around the globe.”

“The catalogue has been online for a few days and we already have phone lines booked from all over the world. I feel privileged to be the temporary custodian of such an interesting piece of music history.”

The auction house recently sold a set of autographs from The Beatles for £14,000 (approx. €16,200). They were sold online to a UK bidder.

The Top Four myths surrounding the Fab Four

While the photo in the auction dispels one myth, the band has been plagued with various rumours and urban myths over the years. Here are some of the most infamous. 

Paul is Dead

Apple
Abbey Road album coverApple

Myth: It’s one of the most enduring urban legends surrounding the band, which purported that Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike in order to spare the public from grief. The band supposedly revealed clues in their songs like 'Strawberry Fields Forever' (where John Lennon supposedly mumbled “I buried him”), and 'A Day in the Life' (where you could hear “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him” when it is played backward). Another example is the interpretation of the 'Abbey Road' album cover as a funeral procession – with John Lennon dressed in white to symbolise heavenly passing, Ringo Starr in black to symbolize the undertaker, George Harrison in denim to mark him as the gravedigger, and Paul McCartney barefoot and out of step to symbolize his death.

Truth: It’s an impressively persistent myth but no, he’s still alive and kicking and people have way too much time on their hands!

'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' was about LSD

Vimeo - Apple
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds videoVimeo - Apple

Myth: The song’s acronym is a thinly veiled reference to potent psychedelic drug LSD, something which led the BBC to ban the song.

Truth: The BBC did ban the song, as they tend to do, but the real story according to Lennon is far from psychedelia. He said in an interview: “Julian (his son) came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."

Pete Best was too good looking

Getty
From left to right: Pete Best, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon in 1962Getty

Myth: Pete Best, The Beatles’ first drummer (who played with the band from 1960 to 1962), was fired prior to the band achieving worldwide fame because the lads were jealous of his good looks.

Truth: In actual fact, Best couldn’t keep up with the band musically and was holding them back. The band’s manager Brian Epstein also didn’t like how Pete’s mother Mona kept on meddling with their business. Maybe she started the rumours?

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Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles

Getty Images
John Lennon with Yoko Ono in 1970Getty Images

Myth: People still blame John Lennon’s girlfriend and future wife Yoko Ono for breaking up the Beatles. The rumour stems from Lennon being inseparable from Ono during The Beatles’ final 16 months - particularly his insistence on bringing her to every recording session.

Truth: Ono’s presence unquestionably contributed to the tensions in the already fractious group, but the band were already breaking up. Harrison felt he wasn’t taken seriously and that his songs were being ignored; Starr walked out during recording sessions; business tensions saw Lennon wanting to engage the American manager Allen Klein to oversee the Beatles, while McCartney wanted to hire his new in-laws, the show business lawyers Lee and John Eastman. The fact is, the breakup was bound to happen, Ono or no.

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