I’ve always loved the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover (and the music on the album is pretty incredible as well). Just the other day, I learned about a live webcam outside Abbey Road Studios in London that records the very same pedestrian crosswalk seen on the album cover, 24hrs a day, 7days a week. I looked it up. And I gotta say, it’s incredible! I’ve been right there at that spot — not on foot, but while on board a bus, and I recall the bus having to stop while some blokes lined up like George, Paul, Ringo, and John for a photo. After only 4mins of watching the live webcam, I saw three cars suddenly having to stop for folks lining up to pose for pictures. Honking ensued, naturally. It’s a terrific idea, really, which creatively serves as a testament to the mind-boggling genius and artistry of the Beatles. That so many people still visit this spot to recreate an image (not the music) of these four guys, so many years after they’ve stopped making music and global headlines, is really something to ponder. Here’s the webcam link:
While looking around for some images for this post, I found lots and lots that I liked. Such as this one of the Beatles sitting on a stoop. Looks like George has the others enthralled in a good story, perhaps about his latest visit to Rishikesh or a recent lesson on the sitar. But even better than this, is another photo I found of Mr. Paul Cole. He’s apparently the guy standing in the background on the original album cover next to the black police car on the right side of the road, between Ringo and John. I wonder who originally tracked him down? According to the blog BuzzFeed Music, Mr. Cole didn’t even like the Beatles: “He thought they were just 4 ‘kooks.'”
Florida’s TCPalm online paper published the following interesting and funny piece about Mr. Cole in 2008 after he died.
In a 2004 interview with Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Cole explained how he came to be there at that precise moment.
On a London vacation with his wife, Cole, then a resident of Deerfield Beach, declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.
“I told her, ‘I’ve seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I’ll just stay out here and see what’s going on outside,'” he recalled.
Parked just outside was a black police van. “I like to just start talking with people,” Cole said. “I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day.”
In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.
It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.
“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks,” Cole remembered. “A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn’t walk around in London barefoot.”
About a year later, Cole first noticed the “Abbey Road” album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison’s love song “Something” on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan’s photo.
“I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left,” he says. “I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, ‘Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you’ll see it’s me.'”