The Illuminati. Oh Lord, Really? Conspiracy theories are so tiring!

Paul McCartney, as we all know, was killed when he crashed his Aston Martin on his way home from Abbey Road studios late one night in 1966. A very sad night.

His place in the Beatles was taken by William Campbell, a lookalike-soundalike about whom nothing much is known except that he is the singer of every ‘McCartney’ track on every Beatles single and album post-Revolver. Who wrote those songs is not really discussed.

Buddy Holly, on the other hand, didn’t die when his plane crashed in 1957. He was just horribly disfigured and didn’t want his public to see him. So he hid out in a secure house in a remote part of America. He’s never been seen in public since.

Elvis Presley, of course, has often been seen in public since his death was announced in 1977 – in supermarkets and by sightseers around his Memphis home. Well, where else would he be? A real home-boy, our El.

I mention all this because of an increasing belief among young people that the music industry is controlled by the Illuminati.

I say young people. Actually, I know some of their parents also believe this and won’t hear a word of argument. It’s all over the internet, you see. There are videos on YouTube, some of them even showing artists and executives explicitly admitting that, yes, it’s true.

Except, of course, no-one is explicitly saying anything of the sort.

And it’s not true.

I prefer the older conspiracies myself. Paul is Dead is a stonker.

That William Campbell. What a bloody nerve! It was him broke up the Beatles you know. Can you believe the sheer brass neck of the man?

At one point, on the Let It Be sessions, he even tells George Harrison not to play on one of the songs. It’s there, on film! George says to William, “Well, if you don’t want me to play, I won’t play”. And Campbell says, “I seem to have a way of upsetting you”.

Bloody right. Coming in here with your airs and graces, thinking you actually are Paul McCartney.

What an ungrateful sod. He gets the opportunity of a lifetime to step into the shoes of a Pop God. All he has to do is play his part and become stinking rich.g

Instead, he sows discontent, refuses to acknowledge Allen Klein as manager, tears Apple Corps apart and then announces he’s leaving the group. “I’m leaving the group,” he told the Daily Mirror in 1970.

Not long after, he formed a new group, this fake McCartney, and bugger me, Wings became the biggest band in the world!

Lennon, Harrison and Starr must have looked on in wonder and asked themselves: “How the fuck did that happen?”

In the meantime Campbell/McCartney writes a song (Too Many People on the Ram album) in which he tears John Lennon off a strip, saying, “You took your lucky break and broke it in two. Now what can be done for you?“.

That’s just cold, isn’t it? Not to mention a pot, a kettle, and the colour black.

John struck back. In How Do You Sleep? (on the Imagine album) he tells William Campbell: “The only thing you did was Yesterday“.

See what he did there? He took Campbell back to the actual Paul and let him know that he, Campbell, couldn’t write a song as good as anything by Paul.

Anyway, in the immortal words of Jimi Hendrix, “Enough of this rubbish”.

Professor Diane Purkiss, Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, had this to say last week, on the subject of conspiracy theories: “All conspiracy theories are dangerous.”

Her thesis is that the more you feel that they are not listening to you, the more you feel that they are keeping the truth from you. And that’s where conspiracy theories are born. But they’re more dangerous than we might imagine.

“Conspiracy theories excused most of the genocide that took place last century – the idea” (for instance) “that the Jews are conspiring against everybody else.

“Stalin’s purges were part of a conspiracy theory. You take action against the people who are supposedly conspiring against you. If we’re lucky, we end up with a Mark Chapman. If we’re unlucky we end up with a Hitler or a Stalin.

“Conspiracy theories are one of the greatest menaces to democracy. Where it gets dangerous is when you decide that people are deliberately keeping the truth from you, and to resolve that, you have to kill them.”

So come on kids. Listen up. True dat, what the Prof say. Ya feel me?

The Illuminati of legend has been around since 1776. Having, according to rumour, fomented the French Revolution, the Wall Street Crash and the Second World War, wtf do you think they’d be doing messing around with pop music?

The irony is that the original Bavarian Illuminati – which was real – had the aim of opposing superstition and prejudice. They also wanted an end to religious influence and abuses of state power. They even – in 1776 – spoke up for gender equality, starting with the education of women.

So, again: wtf, kids!?

Go in peace and listen to your music, free of superstition and prejudice. And if you want some real fun, I heartily, absolutely and totally recommend you read the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

I can think of at least three current conspiracy theories that are a direct result of feeble-minded people actually believing that Shea and Wilson’s satire was, in fact, contemporary history.

And while you’re waiting for that corporate behemoth Amazon – surely bent on global domination of a much more sinister kind – to deliver your books, have a listen to Paul Is Dead on the BBC iPlayer. It’s all sorts of fun, and all sorts of interesting.

And, obviously, it’s also part of a conspiracy to convince us there is no conspiracy. If you meditate on that too long, your head will explode.

So here’s a little fact to calm you and ground you. Paul McCartney’s house in St John’s Wood was less than 10 minutes walk from Abbey Road Studios. Who in their right mind would drive to the studio, smoke pot and drop acid all day and then drive home…….oh……….I see what you’re saying, man.

Yeah. Heavy.


  1. I’m with you all the way. Right at the start of this year I got kicked off a conspiracy theory website, the moderator expressing suspicions that I was a “Government shill”. You see, if you looked at my public Facebook profile, there wasn’t much in the way of information or updates there, therefore it must have been “faked” in some way.

    Of course, the real reason my Facebook profile’s public view is largely empty is because I keep most of my updates viewable only to my group of friends, so if I’m having a bad day at work or there’s something personal I want to talk about, I can do so without oddballs (such as snoopers from conspiracy theory websites) knowing where I live and work and all my other business. BUT THEN I WOULD SAY THAT.

    Anyway, I’m very proud that anyone – even an obvious idiot – actually thought I might be some kind of MI5/ CIA employee.

    What do you make of the conspiracy theory that the US Government worked with the music industry to flood the US hip-hop market with gangsta rap to shift it away from its political roots? As with all conspiracies, I don’t buy it, but it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to something that might be true. At the very least, I can imagine politicians speaking to their friends at major labels and asking for them not to sign acts who may inflame a sensitive social situation, though the truth is that political artists will seldom have more success than their more glamorous counterparts in any music genre.


    • The schism that exists between the music industry and politics are huge. In America, judges currently determine what the record labels are able to earn from Spotify and other streaming services. It’s a pittance. If the conspiracy you describe was taking place, I think the labels would have a lot more influence on something so important to their income streams. So I don’t buy it, Dave. I think the truth is much simpler. Rap started partly as a political movement, but as soon as it became clear that the market was huge, the artists went with the market. During the 80s, I was shocked to see a channel devoted to what was, for me, a new form – Hip Hop – where the language and imagery were gangster and sexual. At 3am in the morning I asked myself: “Is this what Martin Luther King died for?” I’m still asking that question. Meanwhile, a lot of those young men are seriously wealth, while the girls who took their clothes off are nowhere to be seen.


  2. I’ve seen Elvis impersonators as far apart as Las Vegas, Hong Kong and in a Chinese restaurant in Eltham (Kent). The Vegas show was best, but since my Elvis was pre-army and bits of the 60s, the Vegas years left me mostly cold. Post-army the most promising ‘comeback’ for me was leather-clad Elvis in 1968.


  3. The Ken Campbell production of Illuminatus! began at The Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. The carpenter building the stage sets was none other than Bill Drummond, Zoo Records founder and one half of The Justified Ancients of Mu MU. Hold on a minute The Jamms were in the Iluminatus books…


  4. I never got to grips with whether there was a connection between the Justified Ancients and the MC5’s ‘Kick Out The Jams’. But the internet spoilt that little mystery. They just didn’t like bands ‘jamming’ on stage and used to shout at them to get off the stage, ‘kick out the jams’. Very disappointing.


  5. There’s a very funny thing on the internet where this guy compares McCartney’s different-looking eyebrows through the years, ‘proving’ they used different ‘Maccas’ in the ’60s and ’70s. He is actually serious, which makes it even funnier. You find yourself in the end going “oh yeah, his eyebrows ARE different in 1963 than they are in 1967”. Oddly fascinating, hilarious and disturbing at the same time, in that someone goes to such lengths to try to prove a nonsense. The funniest bit is where he writes at the end of the Eyebrows section, “And next up, John Lennon’s changing Teeth!!!” The site is actually trying to prove that there were four different ‘Beatles’ who were put in front of the cameras at different times. Why ‘they’ would do this remains a mystery. “Look, Paul is taller than John in this photo but smaller than John in this one!!” etc. He obviously has never seen The Lord Of The Rings movies.


  6. There’s another one who compares the shape of McCartney’s face, as if no-one had ever manipulated a photograph, and, more to the point, no-one had ever put on or lost weight. Paul’s look has changed drastically since he became vegetarian. That will happen, as I’ve seen in some of my own friends. But the bit I love, and why I really enjoyed writing it, was the idea that it was this interloper who broke up the Fabs. Not Paul, but William Campbell. Makes me laugh every time I think about it.


  7. Absolutely, that William, what a bounder, and as you say, how stupid, to get a gig like that and then decide to break up the very band he’s managed by some miracle to be in. Has anyone ever asked Campbell just why he was thick enough to do that??! “The only thing you did was ‘Yesterday’,” er, would that be Paul or William, John? (good point on that too, Paul).


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