I haven’t been feeling well recently, so of course I thought about Paul McCartney.
Okay, let me retrace my steps there.
I stayed home sick today and saw, on TV or the Interwebs, mention of the rumor that Jon Bon Jovi was dead. Specifically, I saw debunking of the rumor by the New Jersey rocker himself.
Which made me think of the fan furor over the “death” of Beatle Paul McCartney in the 1960s.
I wasn’t the most discriminating music fan as an elementary schooler. I liked the Beatles but I also liked the Monkees, Rolling Stones and yes, even the Dave Clark Five.
I’m not positive I was aware of the McCartney rumors, but if I wasn’t before a visit to my doctor’s office, I certainly was after.
There, in the waiting room of Muncie’s Children’s Clinic, was the Nov. 7, 1969 cover of Life magazine, with Paul and Linda and their kids on the cover.
“The Case of the ‘Missing’ Beatle: Paul is Still With Us,” the headline read.
If you don’t remember the “Paul is dead” rumor, it was basically that McCartney had been killed in a 1966 car accident. The Beatles had quietly replaced him with an impostor but then had, improbably, included clues as to his death in music and album cover images. (“Turn me on dead man,” Paul facing backward, Paul not wearing shoes, etc.)
Flash forward to the summer of 1969, when a radio DJ began publicizing the rumor. Reports of Paul’s death circulated quickly, prompting Life to send a reporter and photographer to McCartney’s farm in Scotland.
I don’t remember a lot about the Life article, but I remember eagerly reading it. I’m not sure it was my first dose of reality about the scary possibility of death — I was an avid viewer of the “Combat!” TV series, after all, and battlefield deaths were commonplace in the show — but it affected me enough that I remember it all these years later.
The other day I found out about the death of North Korean “dear leader” Kim Jong Il from the Twitter feed of comedian and writer Patton Oswalt. The Associated Press Tweet about the story came later.
The lightning speed of news today — not only genuine breaking news but also rumors like those that hit Bon Jovi — means that stories circulate more quickly than ever.
That means the resolution to those stories circulates more quickly too. None of us had to wait three years for Life magazine to debunk the Bon Jovi rumor.
Thank goodness. I’m already sick and wouldn’t want to deal with that on top of a bad cold.