'It was viral before there was viral': Revisiting the 'Paul is dead' hoax

Sunday, April 06, 2014

RAINBOW CITY, Alabama -- It was no April fool's prank – in the autumn of 1969, much of America wondered if Paul McCartney, one fourth of the Beatles, was actually alive. And this weekend, one of those inadvertently responsible for the story will be performing at Rainbow City's Chocolate Festival this weekend.

Fred LaBour, known by his stage persona Too Slim, is a member of the cowboy comedy group Riders In the Sky. LaBour was a student at the University of Michigan 45 years ago. In October 1969, LaBour was 19 years old and worked for The Michigan Daily in Ann Arbor, the student newspaper at the University of Michigan. He wrote for the sports desk and occasionally submitted music reviews. On Oct. 12, he was listening as radio disc jockey Russ Gibb in Detroit took a call from someone claiming that, if one played "Revolution 9" from the Beatles' "White Album" backwards, one heard a clear voice saying, "Turn Me On, Dead Man." The same person claimed at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever," John Lennon says, "I buried Paul." LaBour was scheduled the next day to write a record review of "Abbey Road," the latest album by the Beatles, who were even at the end of the decade the most popular pop group of the era. "It wasn't that someone was saying he was dead," LaBour remembered about the radio show, which he heard driving home. "It was more, something's wrong here."

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Source:, Alabama

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