As the biggest rock band of the 20th century, the Beatles were naturally also the subject of an infamous conspiracy theory. According to urban legend, Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by an imposter, with his surviving bandmates leaving cryptic clues to the coverup in their music and album art.
Decades later, a far-right fringe movement would make this kind of outlandish claim as a matter of course. QAnon followers, who started out as Trump loyalists believing that he was engaged in a secret war with the “deep state” and a cabal of pedophile elites, have floated the idea that JFK Jr. is still alive and suggested that President Biden is actually a robot. They come to these conclusions in much the same way as a Sixties stoner would have “proved” that Paul was dead: by interpreting images and texts in a way that no reasonable person ever would. QAnon, too, holds that the people running the world like to taunt us with hints of their evil influence — that the evidence is always hidden in plain sight.
So it can’t be a surprise that this cult, which now studies any artifact they can to advance a new “satanic panic,” is arguing about whether the Beatles were tied up in witchcraft and child sacrifice.
One lively conversation on the topic unfolded after “anti-woke” conspiracy theorist Sameera Khan shared the controversial “butcher” album cover for the collection Yesterday and Today, which was withdrawn by the band after a dispute with their label. In this attempt at provocation, Khan saw the touch of shaitan, or a demonic spirit in the Islamic tradition. Among the many replies speculating on the meaning of the image, one Twitter user referenced a book that alleges the Beatles were created and financed by the U.K. government. The text, The Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300, lays out the long-standing conspiracy theory that a secret group founded by the British aristocracy in 1727 controls all global affairs. Khan, for her part, has previously called the Beatles a “psyop” to popularize “wokeism.”
The following day, another conspiracy theorist on Twitter re-shared the album cover, prompting one follower, in a since-deleted tweet, to share a meme purporting to show that the cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is actually a tribute to English occultist Aleister Crowley. Another claimed that a different photo of the Beatles showed them using a Masonic gesture. One person stated in response that “Elite mfs want to normalize pedophilia & child sacrifices,” calling it “the highest level of evil.”
The Beatles have also led to heated arguments on GreatAwakening.win, a popular QAnon message board. Several months ago, a user wrote that as “a huge Beatles fan” they were perturbed to hear Q influencer Juan O. Savin — who some in the movement identify as the still-living JFK Jr. — say that Paul McCartney had died in 1969. Commenters assured him it was a fact: “do you even conspiracy theory, bro? that one is true,” read a reply.
“The death of Paul is an entry conspiracy theory,” said another user. “Once you realize how much you’ve been lied to about the Beatles, even if only in small ways where you still think Paul is Paul, it primes you for accepting that much of your culture has been a psy-op and false.” A similar opinion appeared in an earlier post that asked: “IF PAUL McCARTNEY IS REALLY DEAD, AND ‘THEY’ DECIEVED PEOPLE BACK IN THE LATE 60’s, CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT ‘THEY’ CAN DO NOW???”
Another point of interest for the Q crowd is the 1980 killing of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman. Many Q adherents take it as a given that he was assassinated for turning away from his liberal “hippie” ideals and toward more conservative politics. “I have always felt that there was something not quite right about Lennon’s murder,” wrote a user in a thread about him. “No fan would go that crazy to go and pull a trigger, unless, they are mind-controlled.” Another replied: “The bullets entered his body from the opposite side to where the alleged gunman was standing. It was the doorman who shot him.”
The forum has also linked to blog posts explaining how the Beatles were, along with the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead, a fake band manufactured by the British nonprofit Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, which has conducted research and consulted in the field of social sciences since World War II. And they’ve discussed the Yesterday and Today album cover, with one fanatic saying it was an instance where the Fab Four let the mask slip: “Reminder that this has been happening forever,” they wrote. “It’s always the people who the media uses to push ‘peace and love’ messages. The Beatles went to the Rothschild parties. The rush to ban this album cover wasn’t due to decency; it was to hide the truth exposed by young drug addicts who got too blasé.” The top comment on that thread posits that Lennon’s ballad “Imagine” is an “NWO / Globalist National Anthem.”
Yet another QAnon believer, under a post connecting the song “Piggies” to the Manson Family murders of 1969, has it that the Beatles got some of their lyrics from Charles Manson, and that all of them were part of a Tavistock psyop. This led to some bickering when someone else disagreed, and eventually devolved into two boomers arguing over who was the true Beatles expert. “I was a fan of the Beatles after Ed Sullivan,” said the first, while the second shot back that they “lived in Kirby in 1962,” an English town near Liverpool where the band played a show that year. The first user then enigmatically replied, “Sometimes the soldier in the foxhole is the last to know.” Further down in the thread, a third party wrote, apropos of the earlier Manson reference, “sharon tate was a man sorry to burst your bubble.”
But whatever the contradicting analyses, it’s clear that this bunch will never outgrow their peculiar Beatlemania. There’s so much existing lore to the band, many Q soldiers are old enough to remember seeing them on TV, and the trove of eccentric lyrics and art is inexhaustible. In fact, the movement has been freaking out over the Yesterday and Today cover for years — almost since the beginning of QAnon itself. Sure, they can turn anything into deranged content. The lads from Liverpool just make it easy.