The music world has seen its fair share of legendary guitarists, but Eddie Van Halen was nothing short of a rock god. An unquestioned virtuoso and a master of his craft, Eddie’s talent was almost divine, the unmistakable hum and wail of his guitar driving a Van Halen sound that breathed new life into rock ‘n roll. Eddie was one of the most beloved musicians in the business, and in light of his tragic and sudden passing, his widow has come out with a painfully honest admission about the 11 year relationship they shared.

The shocking news of Eddie’s death was first broken by his son Wolfgang, who’s served as Van Halen’s bassist since 2007. “I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolf revealed on Instagram and Twitter.

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“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift,” he continued. “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”

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Not long after, Eddie’s widow, Janie Liszewski, confirmed the legendary rocker’s passing: “My heart and soul have been shattered into a million pieces. I never knew it was possible to cry so many tears or feel such incredible sadness.”

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Even actress Valerie Bertinelli, Eddie’s ex-wife, came forward with a touching tribute to her husband of 20 years. “Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin,” she shared. “I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love.”

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But perhaps the true testament to the late legend’s legacy was the overwhelming outpouring of grief from his peers, each recounting the many ways in which Eddie had changed music for the better. Yet Eddie Van Halen was never concerned with becoming the savior of rock ‘n roll — all he really wanted to do was play.

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At first, however, the piano had been his instrument of choice. Classically trained at the age of six, Eddie actually never learned to read music; instead, he improved his skills by watching and listening to other musicians.

Even when he eventually got the itch to rock out, his older brother Alex called dibs on guitar, leaving young Eddie to take up drumming. Yet Eddie knew the strings were his calling, leading the brothers to swap instruments and form their first band, The Broken Combs.

By 1974, following years of backyard gigs and high school concerts, The Broken Combs had become Mammoth, with a lineup featuring the Van Halen brothers, bassist Michael Anthony, and lead singer David Lee Roth. To David, however, the band needed a stronger name. Just a few weeks later, they renamed themselves Van Halen.

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The name change worked wonders for the band, and by 1977 Van Halen was one of the hottest acts on the west coast. KISS frontman Gene Simmons even helped them cut their first demo, and after an impressive performance at the Starwood in Hollywood, reps from Warner Bros. Records officially offered them a deal.

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Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut proved to be a smash hit, introducing the world to their revolutionary rock sound. David’s screeching, energetic vocals established the band as a force to be reckoned with, though what really became Van Halen’s trademark was Eddie’s playing.

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With his signature “Frankenstrat” in hand, Eddie turned guitar playing on its head with his lightning-fast licks and dizzying techniques. His penchant for “tapping” — as showcased on the iconic guitar solo “Eruption” — became emblematic of Van Halen’s style, ushering in a new era of hard rock.

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But Eddie’s abilities went beyond just shredding the strings, as attested to by the band’s image shift following David’s departure in 1984. To complement Sammy Hagar’s powerful, melodic voice, Eddie’s playing began to take on a smoother, more refined style, proving without a doubt that he was a master of his craft.

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Even as Van Halen’s popularity began to wane, Eddie’s status as a rock god ensured him a permanent place in the ever-changing music world. The unmistakable roar of his guitar could be found in everything from film scores to pop albums, and he even played the famous solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

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Yet the new millennium proved difficult for the superstar, as his longtime battle with substances saw him in and out of rehab on a regular basis. To make matters worse, Eddie was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000, a tragic revelation he attributed to his habit of holding metal guitar picks in his mouth while playing.

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But Eddie was a fighter, and in 2008 he kicked his drug addiction for good while undergoing treatment for his cancer. He reunited with the original Van Halen lineup, with all signs pointing to the start of a new chapter for the legendary virtuoso.

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Sadly, this new era didn’t last for long, as Eddie’s cancer returned and quickly metastasized. He kept his declining health hidden from his fans, and on October 6, 2020, Eddie Van Halen passed away in Santa Monica, California, surrounded by his loved ones.

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Along with tributes from his family, other big names in the music industry expressed their deep sadness over Eddie’s loss, including the likes of Brian Wilson, Lenny Kravitz, and Cat Stevens. “Legendary guitar and musical innovator Edward Van Halen. 1955-2020. Heaven will be electric tonight,” Kravitz tweeted.

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Both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar also paid their respects to their bandmate and longtime friend. “What a long great trip it’s been…” David wrote alongside a photo of he and Eddie. Sammy did the same, writing: “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family.”

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Even Gene Simmons, one of the very first believers in Eddie’s star power, shared a touching message in the guitarist’s honor: “My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie!”

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Many were surprised to see Simmons share such a heartfelt tribute, as “The Demon” has never exactly been the warm-and-fuzzy type — especially when it comes to his own bandmates. In fact, judging from some of his recent comments, Simmons probably would’ve rather had Eddie up on stage with him than Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, or even Paul Stanley.

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From the start, there were some pretty clear signs that the four musicians of KISS weren’t exactly a match made in heaven. Even Simmons and Stanley — who initially began playing together in the band Rainbow as Gene Klein and Stanley Eisen — were polar opposites.

“[Stanley] hated me when he first met me – thought I was arrogant. True! Self-absorbed. True! … Thinks that he’s better than he actually is. Guilty as charged,” Simmons told Rolling Stone in 2014.

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Things were no smoother with Peter Criss — then known as Peter Criscuola — whom Simmons and Stanley discovered through the Rolling Stones classifieds. While chatting over slices of pizza during their first meeting, Criss, unprompted, blurted out that a certain appendage on his body was a bit longer than average.

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If that wasn’t jarring enough, guitarist Paul “Ace” Frehley showed up to his first audition with the band in mismatched shoes and proceeded to knock back a cold brew right then and there to take the edge off. But when the four of them finally sat down and started jamming, it was a thing of beauty.

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From there, KISS’s rise to superstardom was inevitable, and in 1975 they broke through with their iconic “double live” album Alive!. The band reached its commercial peak by 1978, though even with millions of dollars pouring in, the foursome was already beginning to fracture.

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The backstage dynamic between the four men had become increasingly divided, with Criss and Frehley relegated to second fiddles behind the “faces” of KISS in Simmons and Stanley. Criss especially felt antagonized by his bandmates, as he believed they thought less of him because of his upbringing.

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“I didn’t have the knowledge they had. And they would use that constantly, use words I didn’t understand,” Criss recalled. “I’m a kid from Brooklyn. I was not the smartest bulb in the band. They would literally embarrass me in front of people. You can only take so much of that after a while.”

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Frehley, on the other hand, had more creative qualms with his fellow band members. Founded on the principals of hard rock, KISS began drifting in a more commercial, family friendly direction by ’79 — and the Spaceman wasn’t happy about it.

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“We were this heavy rock group,” he explained, “and now we had little kids with lunchboxes and dolls in the front row, and I had to worry about cursing in the microphone. It became a circus.”

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In the minds of Simmons and Stanley, though, the Catman and Space Ace simply weren’t pulling their weight. Their contributions to the band’s projects were minimal — excluding Criss’ “Beth,” of course — and both musicians’ playing slipped as drug and alcohol abuse took its toll.

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Fans, however, were for the most part oblivious to the band’s strife until their infamous appearance on The Tomorrow Show in the fall of 1979. The tension was palpable as Simmons and Stanley attempted to control an inebriated Frehley and outspoken Criss.

The first shoe dropped just before the turn of the decade when Simmons, Stanley, and a reluctant Frehley fired Criss from KISS. Eric Carr was brought in as “the Fox” to replace Criss, though as Frehley became increasingly distant from the band, it was clear this new lineup wouldn’t last long.

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Frehley left the band in ’82 and was ultimately replaced by Bruce Kulick in 1984. The lineup of Simmons, Stanley, Kulick, and Eric Singer (who replaced Carr after his death 1991) ushered KISS through their “Unmasked” rebirth period, though soon enough, calls for the original quartet of makeup-clad rockers grew deafening.

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That’s why in 1995, the original members of KISS put aside their differences and shocked the world by reuniting for the first time in nearly 16 years. The reunion propelled the band back to superstar status once again, though it wouldn’t be long before the four bandmates slipped back into old habits.

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Criss and Frehley were made salaried employees by Simmons and Stanley, with the drummer embarrassed to learn that Space Ace was making $10,000 more a night than he was. The two begrudgingly continued performing for a few years, though following KISS’s tour with Aerosmith in 2003, they left the band for good.

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Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer became Criss’ and Frehley’s permanent replacements, dawning the Catman and Spaceman get-ups to become the current iteration of KISS. Yet although the original group split on not-so-great terms, it isn’t all bad blood — well, at least for some.

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Criss and Frehley have actually welcomed another chance to play with the band, provided that Simmons and Stanley loan them the rights to wear the makeup again. However, that might be a bit of wishful thinking on their part, as the Demon recently had a few biting words on the matter.

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According to Simmons, Criss and Frehley “no longer deserve to wear the paint […] Just being there at the beginning is not enough,” he continued. “[If] you blow it for yourself, it’s your fault. You can’t blame your band members. ‘Oh, look what happened to me. Oh, poor me.’ Look at my little violin. I have no sympathy.”

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As for their own futures with the band, Simmons and Stanley have actually discussed replacing themselves with other members once their touring days are over so that KISS can continue on indefinitely. Calling it quits in their 60s seems reasonable enough, though there’s one band out there still proving that age is just a number…

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The Rolling Stones! The legendary English rock group is still kicking it well into their 70s with no end in sight. It should come as no surprise that the Stones have stuck around — with so much success over the years, why would they ever want to stop?

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It all began in 1961, when 18-year-old Michael “Mick” Jagger ran into his childhood friend Keith Richards on platform two of Dartford railway station. Noticing the stack of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records Mick was carrying, Keith floated the idea of the two jamming together sometime.

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Along with mutual friend Dick Taylor, the duo began exploring their musical talents, eventually recruiting two others to form the Blues Boys. Eager to get themselves heard, the group decided to send a tape of their best recordings to Alexis Korner, a local blues legend.

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Alexis was impressed by the tape, so much so that he invited Mick, Keith, and Dick to join his band, Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. It was here they’d meet slide guitarist Brian Jones, who had an interesting proposition for the trio.

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Brian was eager to strike out on his own, and with keyboardist Ian Stewart and drummer Charlie Watts in tow, he invited Mick, Keith, and Dick to join him. The trio eventually agreed to leave Blues Incorporated, though Alexis was anything but bitter.

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In fact, Brian was the first person Alexis called when Blues Incorporated had to pull out of a gig at London’s Marquee Club. When a journalist reached out to ask for the group’s name, Jones glanced down at a Muddy Waters album and spotted the song “Rollin’ Stone” — the iconic band was born.

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After some personnel changes, the “Rollin’ Stones” began their first tour of the U.K., a brand new experience for each of them. But even as the group began hitting its stride, Mick and the others never expected what came next.

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Seemingly overnight, the Stones had become Britain’s most popular band, with some polls ranking them higher than even the Beatles. They changed their name to “The Rolling Stones” soon after, though the group’s biggest transformation didn’t come until 1963.

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Under manager Andrew Loog Oldham, the band’s image changed to contrast clean-cut groups like the Beatles. Long hair, unmatched clothes, and a dirty appearance, according to Oldham, made the Stones “a raunchy, gamy, unpredictable bunch of undesirables.”

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This overhaul worked like a charm, though the music they played — mostly covers of aging blues musicians — didn’t really reflect their youthful, rebellious image. That’s when Mick and Keith decided to try their hand at songwriting — and the results were nothing short of historic.

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The Stones achieved their first international hit in 1965 with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” proving the Jagger-Richards partnership to be a formidable one. Following the release of Aftermath in 1966, the band’s performances were almost entirely centered on its own material.

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The group had now fully come into its own, and with the success of hits like “Paint It, Black” and “Mother’s Little Helper,” the Stones had become an international phenomenon. But the band’s influence went beyond just rock and roll.

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The Stones had firmly established themselves as leaders of the ’60s counterculture, their attitude, sexuality, and energy serving as a statement against the rigid establishment. Unfortunately, “The Man” wasn’t going to take this lying down.

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After years of rumors about the band’s recreational drug use, Mick, Keith, and, later, Brian were hit with drug charges after a police raid at Keith’s home. Though none of them served significant jail time, the band’s reputation was damaged by the scandal.

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In an effort redeem themselves and capitalize on the highly popular Eastern movements of the day, the band released the psychedelic rock album Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967. But after mixed reception and limited commercial success, the Stones came to a realization: they needed to get back to basics.

The eclectic, bluesy style of 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet did just that, marking a return to form for the band. A year later, Let It Bleed and the iconic track “Gimme Shelter” capped off a strong end to the ’60s for the Stones — the ’70s, however, were a bit trickier.

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Despite the success of albums like Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main St. (1972), and Some Girls (1978), a rift had begun to develop between Mick and Keith. Drug addiction was affecting Keith’s contributions to the band, though even when he was up to tour and perform, Mick was too busy focusing on his solo projects.

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These tensions spilled over into the ’80s; despite carrying out a number of high-grossing tours, band members continued to drift in opposite directions. The Stones looked headed for a breakup — then came the ’90s.

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Putting aside their animosity, the band released Steel Wheels around the turn of the decade to critical acclaim, marking a comeback that promised to be their biggest yet. They toured constantly throughout the decade, breaking records and attracting a brand new generation of fans.

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Through the ’00s and 2010s the band only released a handful of albums — their live performances, however, were some of their best ever. Even after more than 50 years together, the Stones showed no signs of slowing down.

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In fact, the iconic group is still rocking today, having recently headlined Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home remote concert during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mick also confirmed that the band would be releasing new music in 2020, affirming that despite it all, the Rolling Stones are here to stay.

Unsurprisingly, the rebelliousness that made the Stones so different from the Beatles has lost a bit of its luster now that the band’s members are all well into their 70s. Yet this defining contrast was actually a lie: while the Beatles endeared themselves to fans with a clean image, their civility was little more than an act.

Reddit

Rewind a few years, and the Fab Four — who actually had five members at the time — were a wild bar band. Sporting leather jackets, greased up hair, and amplified attitude, the lads attacked the stage more than they performed on it.

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Paul McCartney, the only surviving Beatle to witness the full scope of their misadventures, waited decades before disclosing the craziest stories. Understandably, he and his bandmates probably worried their crazy youth could hurt their marketability.

Astrid Kirchherr

The Beatles emerged as the leading rock group from the rough-and-tumble port city of Liverpool. In contrast to their posh London contemporaries, they were just as hungry for trouble as they were for fame.

Pioneering the Mersey Sound, named after the local river, The Beatles brought back rock music from the brink of extinction. Liverpudlians packed into smoky basements like The Cavern Club to see them tear it up. But the group wouldn’t stay put for long.

As they made a name for themselves, they got an invite for a residency in Hamburg, Germany. This city was even grittier than their own, its streets filled with gangsters and prostitutes. For them, it provided the rush of their lives.

Alas, these gigs paid anything but a fortune. They made pennies, and while room and board was included, they practically lived in a closet. Having to wash and do laundry in the sink made for a severe lack of privacy, which became awkward when girls came over.

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Performing in red light district clubs, The Beatles didn’t have a challenge picking up girls — for a fee or otherwise. But they often had to share the room with others. Reportedly, Paul and John clapped when they witnessed George Harrison lose his virginity.

The boys turned to drugs almost out of necessity. German clubs had them playing for up to nine hours per day, so other musicians recommended a cocktail of pills to keep their energy up. Naturally, they also indulged on complimentary beers for extra calories.

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Fortunately, the hours of practice refined them into world-class artists. The Germans, who would’ve been mortal enemies just a generation earlier, loved the antics of these rock and rollers — until their craziness and lawbreaking got them deported.

The lawbreaking wasn’t limited to one Beatle, either. Authorities shipped George off after discovering he was too young to enter most German clubs, while Paul and Pete Best got arrested for nailing a condom into the wall of their room and lighting it on fire.

Once they reconfigured their lineup and landed a record deal back in England, The Beatles became international stars almost overnight. Fame didn’t upset their party-heavy lifestyle; it just heightened the mania. The party just kept on going.

Many fans couldn’t see The Beatles when they arrived in town, but they could certainly hear them. That’s because hordes of screaming girls chased them wherever they went. The most passionate ones tore at their idols, hoping to rip off a scrap of hair or clothing.

Some Beatlemaniacs would stop at nothing to meet their heroes. When the band visited Los Angeles, a group of teenagers rented a helicopter to fly over The Beatles’ lodging and wave as they sped by.

Never expecting to be so famous, the lads ate up the attention. Plus, between the pandemonium and constant traveling, they could hardly keep track of where they were. They just rocked the stage, raged after the show, and flew off to the next gig.

An ample security force guarded the moptops in blocks of hotel rooms, where they often had to sneak in and out. Besides spending lots of quality time together, they invited select individuals to party with them — though some parties may have been out of their league.

Upon his first meeting with the Brits, Bob Dylan famously introduced them to marijuana at New York’s Delmonico Hotel. High on drugs and celebrity, The Beatles felt invincible. However, there was some blowback.

After John quipped that his band was more popular than Jesus, Christians around the world went up in arms. Southern communities organized bonfires of Beatle records and merchandise. Protests and death threats suddenly made touring a lot less fun.

On top of that, The Beatles were growing exhausted and homesick. The only breaks they had from touring they used to record new albums, so there was little gas left in the tank. At the same time, exciting new technology was shifting their priorities.

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The Fab Four chose to evolve into studio-focused artists, creating music impossible to play onstage, like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Internal drama only continued from there, and The Beatles never went on tour again.

The Beatles officially called it quits in 1970, and yet fans are still digging up new information on their legendary career. These folks aren’t just focused on the music either. Dark rumors still swirl around the band’s most terrible secret.

Drummer Ringo Starr may be the only person who knows the real truth. While he doesn’t like to address it in interviews, one question about a former bandmate still comes up again and again. Ringo admitted that it was a troubled time for the Fab Four.

The Independent

See, ever since the mid-1960s, rock listeners have had questions about the whereabouts of Paul McCartney. Sure, he and Ringo appeared in public together as recently as 2018, but not everyone is convinced both men onstage were real Beatles.

Rolling Stone

How could that be? Since Beatlemania erupted on a worldwide scale in 1964, not one of John, Paul, George, or Ringo have been able to go anywhere without being recognized. They reached an unprecedented level of fame.

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Everywhere they went, throngs of frenzied girls followed them. But after one 1969 radio broadcast, Beatles fans were screaming for a completely different reason. Many feared one of their heroes had met a grisly end.

Katie Greenwood

One night, Detriot disc jockey Russ Gibb took a call from an anonymous source who claimed that Paul McCartney had secretly died and been replaced with a double. Russ entertained the crackpot for a while but never imagined listeners would believe him.

Ultimate Classic Rock

In the ensuing weeks, tabloids and reporters began running the story as if it were fact. The “Paul Is Dead” rumors actually started years earlier – back when The Beatles stopped touring and changed their look — but now it had hit the mainstream.

Here’s the myth: Paul was speeding down a long-and-winding road one November night in 1966. Amid the icy conditions, he lost control of his car and veered into a pole, killing him instantly. Before the press picked up the tragedy, the band covered it up.

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Allegedly, manager Brian Epstein predicted that Paul’s demise would sink The Beatles and cause mass panic. So, in secret, he organized a search for a McCartney lookalike. They found their double in a man named William Shears Campbell.

Peter Kaye

At the same time, the three surviving musicians supposedly wrestled with extreme guilt. They could only bear it by hinting at Paul’s secret death and replacement. Before long, fans claimed to identify clues all over The Beatles’ catalog.

For example, conspiracy theorists thought the band’s alter-ego experiment in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was all a nod to the cover-up. The Beatles did name drop Billy Shears in “With A Little Help From My Friends,” after all.

Far-fetched as it sounded, a number of fans bought into the story. They pulled out photos of Paul from 1964 and 1967 and claimed there were enough facial differences to prove these were two different men! Naturally, they ignored the effects of aging and facial hair.

The Beatles added fuel to the fire by acknowledging the rumors in their work. For instance, a garbled voice appears at the end of the song “I’m So Tired.” When played backwards, it chants aloud, “Paul is a dead man. Miss him, miss him!”

The Beatles Bible

In addition, the cover of Abbey Road resembled a funeral procession. John led the way in a minister’s white outfit, Ringo followed in a black undertaker’s suit, Paul signified his death with a cigarette and no shoes, and George wore the blue-collar denim of a gravedigger.

With the Detroit radio broadcast, the “Paul is dead” conspiracy reached its peak. Though after The Beatles broke up in 1970, Paul disappeared from the public eye. Was there some truth to his downfall?

No, not so much. Following the band’s breakup, Paul and his wife Linda retreated to their Scotland farm. He did regular interviews to prove to everyone he was still alive and kicking, but a small group of naysayers just weren’t buying it.

Daily Mail

Many hit singles and sold-out tours later, tinfoil hat wearers still insisted that this man simply wasn’t Paul McCartney. They alleged that the same impostor from 1966 was coasting off of The Beatles’ success, as he knew most people would never believe his secret.

Los Angeles Times

These days, Paul has mostly laughed off the hoax. Maybe the Fab Four shouldn’t have indulged the paranoids out there, but they were mostly just making fun of it. However, he admitted he did get into a crash in 1966.

GQ

Fortunately, this accident wasn’t nearly as horrific as the urban legend. The Beatle fell off his moped, resulting in him chipping his tooth. Paul actually grew a mustache shortly after to hide a small scar on his lip too!

As for Ringo, he never suspected his longtime friend of being replaced by a lookalike. That theory is simply too absurd and convoluted, he claims. Plus, The Beatles never could’ve found a quality double — there is only one Paul McCartney.

Cincinnati Enquirer