On 12 October 1969, out of the blue, a Detroit radio station began announcing that Paul McCartney was dead.
The shock claim was picked up by coast-to-coast newspapers and conspiracy theorists, who scoured Beatles lyrics and photographs for “evidence”.
A theory was put together: McCartney had been killed in a card accident three years before (“he blew his mind out in a car”) and was now being impersonated by a look-alike by the name of William Campbell.
The bizarre “Paul Is Dead” myth crossed the Atlantic, becoming a nightmare for Apple, whose Savile Row offices were besieged by hysterical callers.
A slew of records were hastily released in the aftermath of the rumours including The Ballad Of Paul by The Mystery Tour (nobody ever admitted to being in that band), Paulbearer by Zacherias & The Tree People, Brother Paul by Billy Shears & The All-Americans, and Dear Paul by Webley Finster, who turned out to actually be Jose Feliciano (his name appeared on the writing credit).
The flurry of cash-in records caused an Apple spokesperson to decry the whole situation as; “Ghoulish – in the worst possible taste. It’s exploitation at its most extreme”.