Why did the Fab Four cross the road around 11:30 a.m. on August 8, 1969? It certainly wasn’t to get to the other side. In fact, it was to create the album cover for what would turn out to be their last recorded, though penultimate album as the Beatles.
Many personal differences and business difficulties preceded the album’s recording which left the foursome aware that the end was near. EMI was applying pressure to get the album released. What was recorded with a working title of Everest, including plans to fly to Mt. Everest for a cover shoot, was changed for timeliness and simplicity to a title of Abbey Road, the road on which their recording studio was located. The cover photo of the Beatles walking the zebra crosswalk of Abbey Road was Paul McCartney’s idea. A handful of shots were taken in about a ten minute period and what was to become one of the most iconic cover photos was created.
The photo was used as the front cover for the album without mention of the album title nor the famed band, a decision made by the creative director. The Beatles needed no labeling for the albums to fly off the shelves, and with the photo providing no distracting labels, conspiracy theories popped from the woodwork. Some cited the symbolism in the picture as providing proof that Paul was dead, a popular conspiracy theory that had started earlier that year.
It’s debatable as to the distinct reason behind the album’s cover photo being considered one of the most iconic in recording history. Perhaps it’s due to Abbey Road being one of the final efforts of the legendary Beatles, or that the album is one of the Beatles’ best-selling, reaching 12x platinum in the U.S. It could also be the conspiracy theories that arose from the album cover, or even the cultural significance given to the crossing site itself. Regardless, the Abbey Road album cover is a photograph that has managed to set itself amongst our collective consciousness as one of the defining moments of the late 1960’s.
Related: The Story of Iconic Photos: Lunch Atop a Skyscraper
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