Arguably, the most recognisable album cover in pop music history and certainly the most parodied, The Beatles’ Abbey Road album still draws fans to the road forty four years after the photo was taken. But how did this iconic image come about? We put on our sleuthing hats to find out. The result of this detective work, eleven little known nuggets of knowledge and five fantastic behind the scenes photos.
1. The album’s working title was Everest, named after the cigarettes that sound engineer Geoff Emerick smoked. The packets had a silhouette of Mount Everest on them and The Beatles liked the imagery.
2. Originally, they planed to take a private plane over to the foothills of Mount Everest to shoot the cover photograph. But as they became increasingly eager to finish the album Paul McCartney suggested they just go outside, take the photo there and name the album after the street.
3. The photo was taken at around 11:30am, on the morning of 8th August 1969 outside EMI Studios on Abbey Road. Photographer Iain Macmillan was given only ten minutes to take the photo whilst he stood on a step-ladder and a policeman held up the traffic.
4.With the exception of Harrison, the group are all wore suits designed by Tommy Nutter.
5. McCartney wore sandals for the first two shots, but afterwards took them off and walked barefoot. This action became one of the ‘clues’ in the Paul Is Dead myth, which began in September 1969.
6. During shots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 the group were walking out of step. However, the fifth shot was perfect, and it was this, which was selected by Paul McCartney for the album.
7. It’s the only original UK Beatles album sleeve to show neither the artist name nor the album title on its front cover.
8. After the album was released, the number plate of the white Volkswagen Beetle, which belonged to one of the people living in the block of flats across from the recording studio was repeatedly stolen from the car.
9. In 1986, the car was sold at auction for £2,530 and in 2001 was on display in a museum in Germany.
10. The man standing on the pavement to the right of the picture is Paul Cole an American tourist, who was totally unaware he had been photographed until he saw the album cover months later.
11. In December 2010, the crossing was given grade II listed status for its “cultural and historical importance”