The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter
Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mysteries
In the 1970s, teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold records and starred in the hit TV show Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic with dead bodies getting in the way of his comeback! An easy gig as the guest celebrity at a Midwest Beatles fan convention turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is murdered. When the police finger Sandy as the prime suspect, the boy sleuth is back in action to interpret the “Beatle-ly” clues and find the killer.
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The clues are out there: The “Paul is dead” hoax
By Sally Carpenter
My cozy is about a murder that takes place at a fictional Beatles fan convention. So I naturally had to mention the “Paul is dead” rumor in the story.
On October 12, 1969, Russ Gibb, a DJ for radio station WKNR-FM, received a disturbing phone call from a caller who claimed if he listened to certain Beatles songs, he would hear proof that Paul McCartney was dead.
Shortly thereafter, Alex Bennett of WMCA-AM in New York told listeners of his radio show that the Beatles themselves had left “clues” pointing to the cute one’s demise.
Apparently Paul had stormed out of Abbey Road studios after an argument with the other Fabs and was decapitated in an auto accident on his way home. Apple Corps covered up the death to keep record sales alive. The missing bassist been replaced by a man named either William Campbell or Billy Shears who had plastic surgery to resemble Paul. The band stopped touring so people wouldn’t notice the substitution.
Even in a pre-Internet era, the rumor spread and soon fans were asking, was Paul really dead? The gossip grew so persistent, reporters from Life magazine visited Paul’s home in Scotland to get the facts.
In fact, Paul was involved in a car crash on November 9, 1966 while driving home after an all-night recording session, but he survived with minor injuries. In 1993 he poked fun at the hoax with an album named “Paul is Live.”
Fans with overactive imaginations and a sense of the macabre found “death clues” hidden in Beatles’ song lyrics and album covers.
On the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album cover, a funeral arrangement of flowers form the shape of a left-handed bass, Paul’s instrument. The goddess Kali, as seen in a small statue front center, is an eastern symbol of rebirth.
Paul holds a black (the color of death) clarinet while the others have gold instruments.
A man has his hand raised over Paul’s head, a sign of blessing.
On the back of the album cover, Paul turns his back to the camera while the other three face forward. George is pointing up at a song lyric that reads, “Wednesday morning at five o’clock,” the time of Paul’s death. The back cover is red, the color of blood.
The patch on Paul’s left sleeve says “OPD” (officially pronounced dead). However, Paul claimed the patch really meant “Ontario Police Department”.
On the “Abbey Road” album cover, Paul is out of step with the other three Beatles and holds a cigarette, often called a “coffin nail.” He is barefoot, a sign of death. He wears burial clothes. John is dressed in white as an angel, Ringo wears a suit as an undertaker and George is a gravedigger in jeans.
The white VW to the left of the cover has a license plate “28 IF.” If Paul had survived the crash, he would have been 28 years old.
On the back of “Abbey Road,” the word “Beatles” is painted on a wall. A crack runs through the word, a sign that the group has split apart.
The song “Come Together” says “one and one and one are three”—only three Beatles are left. “Come together over me” refers to the survivors gathered around Paul’s burial plot.
In the fadeout of “Strawberry Fields,” John says, “I buried Paul.” But John has always claimed that he actually said “cranberry sauce”.
The sound montage of “Revolution No. 9” from “The Beatles” (White Album) double album has the sounds of a squealing tires, a fire, and a man saying “Get me out!” as if Paul was trying to escape from a burning car. A voice says “number nine” repeatedly which, if played backwards on an old-fashioned record player, sounds like “turn me on, dead men.”
The original “White Album” records included a photo poster. Paul’s headshot shows a scar above his lip—the result of plastic surgery on his replacement? Other photos on the poster show Paul’s apparently separated head floating in a bathtub and white ghost hands reaching out to grab him.
Fortunately, Paul and Ringo are still very much with us, but one of the musicians in a Beatles tribute band is not so lucky in my book, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper.” Read it and see if you can figure out the Beatle-ly clues along with the hero!
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, California.
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
“The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel.
“The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” the second in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, is published by Cozy Cat Press. The third book, “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper,” is due in 2015.
Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the 2013 anthology “Last Exit to Murder.”
“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.
Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and “mom” to two black cats.
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The hand over Paul’s head on ‘Sgt. Pepper’ belongs to comedian Issy Bonn. Paul’s arm patch says “O.P.P.” for “Ontario Provincial Police.” Paul was 27 IF still alive in 1969, and license plate on the VW says LMW 281F, not LMW 28IF – it’s a non-serifed one, not a letter I. The F stands for the year the car was registered in Britain – 1968, and any Volkswagen enthusiast will tell that that indeed is a 1968 Beetle.