It was fifty years ago today Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…

The story of Billy Shears

We know when Billy Shears first appeared on the scene. It was the 1st June 1967, the day on which the Beatles released their much anticipated masterwork album, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Billy’s name is there at the end of the very first song…

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“I don’t really want to stop the show
 But I thought that you might like to know
 That the singer’s going to sing a song
 And he wants you all to sing along
 So let me introduce to you
 The one and only Billy Shears
 And Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

And then Ringo Starr starts to sing…

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Although the album was based around an adopted identity the Beatles performing as “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” the idea that Ringo Starr might masquerading as Billy Shears was too much for some fans, particularly those living in America, the home of the conspiracy theory. They saw the ‘Sgt Pepper’ album as yet more proof of the on-going speculation that Paul McCartney had been killed in a car crash on Wednesday, November 9th 1966 and replaced with a look-a-like, sound-a-like called William Campbell Shears a.k.a Billy Shears born in Shreveport, Louisiana on September 16th, 1940.

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FACT Paul McCartney did have a minor accident on 26th Dec 1965 when he fell off a moped, split his lip and chipped a tooth. Embarrassed by his ‘fat lip’ he began to grow a moustache.

The Billy Shears story goes that in 1965 William Campbell Shears entered and won a Beatle ‘Look-a-Like’ competition organised by Brian Epstein who was looking for Beatle doubles just in case one of his boys got killed. No winners were ever announced for this competition. After Paul was ‘killed’ in 1966 Brian Epstein is said to have bribed police and journalists to keep the accident under wraps. He then persuaded the remaining Beatles to stay together and accept William Campbell Shears as a replacement. Of course William Campbell Shears was as equally talented, charming and witty as the original Paul… and although he was an American he quickly assumed Paul’s distinctive Liverpool accent!. With a little plastic surgery he also assumed Paul’s baby faced good looks. According to the ‘Paul is Dead’ theorists Paul’s death explains why the band stopped touring in 1966, and started growing beards!

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The conspirators went to enormous lengths trying to prove their point. According to them there is a secret phone number hidden in the stars making up the title on the sleeve of the “Magical Mystery Tour” album. Ring it and you will hear a true account of Paul’s death. The photograph of the Beatles on the zebra crossing on the sleeve of Abbey Road is meant to represent a funeral procession. The fact that Paul (i.e William Campbell Shears) is barefooted confirms it! The white VW Beetle in the background with the number plate ‘28 IF’ suggests that Paul would have been 28 years old - IF he had survived. The so called ‘clues’ go on and on. Backward messages hidden on records, unusual photographs, the OPD badge that ‘Paul’ is wearing on the fancy blue uniform that he is wearing on the ‘Sgt Pepper’ sleeve being official police slang for “Officially Pronounced Dead”, the first line of “She’s Leaving Home” - “Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock as the day begins” as printed on the Sgt Pepper sleeve being a direct reference to the time of Paul’s death on Wednesday 9th November 1966.

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FACT The badge that Paul is wearing on his fancy blue uniform on the album sleeve of ‘Sgt Pepper’ actually reads O.P.P, one of four given to the Beatles by the Toronto ‘Ontario Provincial Police’ on 28th September 1964

On and on the falsehoods go. Take a mirror and lay it horizontally across the middle of the drum skin on the artwork on the front cover of the Sgt Pepper sleeve and it reads…

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….a clear reference in theorists minds to the dates of Paul’s death in Roman numerals I ONE = 11 (i.e November) and IX = 9.

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The final clues came with the Beatles last album ‘Let It Be’. The sleeve is black - an appropriate colour for a funeral card. Whereas all the other Beatles are facing to one side Paul (i.e Billy Shears) is looking directly at the viewer against a blood red background. Spooky!

In many ways the identity of Billy Shears is clear enough. Right from the beginning of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” it is obvious that the Beatles are pretending to be other people - “We’re Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” they sing. Then Paul McCartney introduces the singer coming up on the next song… “So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears” and Ringo starts to sing.

In 1977 John Lennon wrote a song for Ringo and recorded it with him. It is called “I’m the Greatest”. During the song Ringo, for the benefit of the numbnuts out there, confirms the true identity of Billy Shears. Listen carefully…

You can find more information about the “Paul is Dead” conspiracy in “The Great Beatle Death Clues” by R. Gary Patterson published by Robson Books.

– from Martyn Day