Paul Cole - Abbey Road's Cover Man: History and Facts
It's been more than half a century since the Beatles released their masterpiece "Abbey Road.". Its cover, like its content, has achieved cult status. But few are aware of the man standing on the sidewalk in the background as John, Paul, George, and Ringo make their famous street crossing.
As he says Paul Colehe was never going to become part of history. A retired salesman from Florida was standing on a London street in 1969 when four strange-looking gentlemen lined up perfectly in front of him.
"They looked like a flock of ducks," he recalls.
This "pack," as Cole called them, were none other than the Beatles. They were photographed for the cover of Abbey Road, one of the last albums of the Liverpool four's short but illustrious career. And who's that guy in the background on the right, next to the police car? Well, according to Cole, he is.
"I tell people, 'You don't understand this, but you're talking to a man whose picture hangs in millions of homes around the world!
The events of that momentous day
Indeed: Abbey Road cover is one of the most famous rock pictures capturing The Beatles in all their late-'60s glory. The photo also played a significant role in the rumors that "Paul was dead" that circulated with the album's release (the fact that McCartney was the only one without shoes was taken as a credible clue). But how did Cole get in the photographer's lens that day? Of course, it was. inadvertently. Cole can't even recall seeing a photographer. The only reason he was standing there was because he didn't want to follow his wife to the nearest museum during their vacation.
"I told her: "I've seen all the museums I'd like to see."
So he struck up a conversation with the policeman on duty in the area and then stood puzzled as the Beatles passed by. But not because he recognized them. Cole, who loves the classics, admits he never not interested in their music.
"If they were on TV, I'd probably switch to something else..."
Cole was amazed at how, shall we say, strange they looked.
"They were dressed rather strangely for London of those years.
The Authenticity of History and Mr. Secular Lion
But how did Cole know he was the "fifth" Beatle? His wife, an organist, had bought a copy of Abbey Road to learn from. wedding songshe was playing. Cole spotted him in the house.
"I saw that cover and said: "Hey, that's me!"
Because of the special place of photography in rock history, it is not surprising that others claim they were the mystery man in the background. In Keith Badman's book, for example. "The Beatles Off the Record a certain Joe Poole is quoted as follows:
"As soon as I saw the cover, I screamed: "That's my brother, Tony." He was 33 years old (at the time) and very distinctive at 6 feet 4 inches tall. His name was Tony Staples ... He was on his way to work as administrative secretary of the National Farmers Union on Friday morning when this picture was taken."
But Cole's claim is supported by the fact that his family members say that he talked about meeting the four "weirdos" long before the album came out. His old pictures, taken around the same time, have supernatural resemblance with a dark image wearing glasses on Abbey Road. But why did it take Cole so many years to reveal his connection to the Beatles? He says he never gave it much thought, though his children, grandchildren and, yes, great-grandchildren have enjoyed the fact over the years. He has even been known to autograph copies of Abbey Road for family members.
Remarkably, but according to his family members - this is not the only "moment of fame" in Paul's life. He once met the founder of McDonald's Ray Kroc! This cemented his status as the local socialite.
What finally inspired Cole to go public with his story was a suggestion in the paper asking readers to tell their stories related to The Beatles. Cole's story soon spread around the world, appearing in newspapers in New York, London, Australia, and elsewhere.
Sadly, Cole passed away in 2008. But he certainly lived a vibrant and fulfilling life, living to 96 years old. and seeing the Beatles in person. Without realizing it, he realized the dream of millions!