Cover story: 11 fascinating facts about The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover


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.

Abbey Road

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”

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15 replies
    • JP
      JP says:

      Thanks for the thumbs up, Natasia! Very happy to hear you’re enjoying what we do. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for lots more fun and informative stories.

  1. bruce
    bruce says:

    When they re-released Abbey Road in the 90s, Paul’s cigarette was photoshopped out. You can see this doctored version of the cover in your final image here.

  2. FRANK
    FRANK says:

    Hey Lana……………..Nice catch on the “picture switch” for the re-released version.
    Very few people (myself included) would’ve caught that. I’m impressed!!!

  3. Leroy O. Jackson
    Leroy O. Jackson says:

    I’ve been to the crosswalk and it must be a pain in the rear to live in that neighborhood with all the tourists trying to get their picture taken walking across there ALL the time.

  4. Jo
    Jo says:

    Have u seen the newly discovered crossing from the other side Abbey Road picture that’s caused a sensation it’s being raved about on twitter.
    It’s thanks to Paul’s genius these iconic photos came about gr8 info on your page I’ve tweeted it. the red bus is in full view in new picture, how would that have been sold for if it was used, it is in the original approach ing distance, maybe it was an icon too

  5. Mike
    Mike says:

    ‘Everest’? Really? Anyway, this likely is their best album. They knew the end was at hand and ended on a high note. Yet there are those pesky and numerous so called ‘Paul is dead’ clues which started with Sgt. Pepper’s and ended with this album (no clues on ‘Let It Be’, apparently).
    Who would have thought four guys crossing a street would become among the most recognizable album covers of all time?

  6. Norman
    Norman says:

    I thought the idea was John’s not Paul’s (although he takes the credit). While discussing all the trouble it would be to fly to Mt Everest because the album was to be named Everest, John suggested they just take a picture of Abbey Road and call the album Abbey Road.
    I think it was Paul’s idea to take a picture of them walking across it.

  7. Willy75075
    Willy75075 says:

    One quibble with #6 – they were NOT all in step in the shot that was used – Paul is perfectly out of step, considered a clue in the “Paul is dead” mystery by some.

  8. Talis
    Talis says:

    A chilling side note, just a few hours after the Abbey Road album cover photos were taken in England, Sharon Tate and friends were murdered in the United States.

    • Mark Carlson
      Mark Carlson says:

      Very ironic. In England a beautiful photograph of the Beatles taken in a few minutes and in California minutes of absolute ugliness. Both which will probably last for eternity.

  9. Nicoline
    Nicoline says:

    Does anybody know what would this album be worth today? And who would be interested in buying it? Cover is a bit damaged but the LP itself doesn’t look to bad.

  10. Paul
    Paul says:

    At the time, we all heard the “Paul is dead” stuff. I looked at the license plate of the white VW bug. It read:

    I thought it stood for:
    Linda McCartney Widowed (LMW)
    (Paul) 28 IF (alive)

    I was famous with my friends for a week or so……


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