If you know rock and roll history, you are probably familiar with something known as “the 27 club”. The 27 club refers to musicians who have died tragically at the age of 27. The club did not receive much recognition until the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 when Kurt’s mother was quoted and referred to the 27 club. The club includes the likes of blues legend Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Ron “pigpen” McKernan of the Grateful Dead and most recently, Amy Winehouse. All died tragically and well before their time.
Back in the late 60’s before such time as the 27 club was really a “thing”, one musician inadvertently stumbled into a hoax and should be included as an honorary member of the club. It should be noted here that this musician is still alive and well and at this point can be regarded as the Dean of the rock and roll movement being named by The Guinness Book of World Records as “the most successful composer and recording artist of all time”.
I am referring, of course, to Sir Paul McCartney. According to published reports, back in the mid 1960’s The Beatles knowingly perpetrated a hoax on their fans, circulating a rumor that Paul had died in a car crash and played along with the rumor with visual clues on their albums and clues in their music. Who could forget the immortal line from A Day In The Life off of the Sgt. Pepper album “He blew his mind out in a car; he didn’t notice that the lights had changed” or John Lennon’s lines from Glass Onion “Well, here's another clue for you all, The walrus was Paul” and later from his song How Do You Sleep “Those freaks was right when they said you was dead”.
This is all well and good and the hoax is well documented in books by Andru J. Reeve, R. Gary Patterson and Steven Radice among others but the reason I am nominating Paul for honorary membership in “The 27 Club” is one “clue” on the Abbey Road album cover. Much has been written about the Abbey Road cover with its symbolic positioning and garb of the band and what it represents but what I am referring to is the license plate on the VW bug in the left side of the picture. The license plate which was reportedly made by Paul and Alistair Taylor (Brian Epstein's personal assistant) reads “28 IF” referring to the notion that in the hoax, if Paul had lived, he would have been 28 when Abbey Road was released. In other words, Paul inadvertently and fictitiously fixed his death at age 27 well before “the 27 club” was even imagined and several years prior to the deaths of Jimi, Janis, and Jim.
Coincidence; or just a thing to make you go hmmmmm.