Here’s why Paul McCartney was barefoot on the iconic cover of ‘Abbey Road’

The album cover for The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” is one of the most iconic in music history. The 1969 cover art features the four members of the band crossing the London street, and while Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison are all wearing shoes, Paul McCartney is barefoot. Over the years, some whacky conspiracy theories have been posited to explain why the musician did not wear shoes in the shot.

Falling in line with another rumor that was gaining traction at the time — that McCartney had died some years earlier and had been replaced by a lookalike imposter — some believed that his lack of shoes in the photo symbolized a funeral procession. Lennon represented a clergyman in white, while Starr’s black clothes were that of a mourner. Harrison’s denim outfit made him the gravedigger.

abbey road photo
Getty Images | Krafft Angerer

Sound a little too crazy to you? McCartney himself debunked the rumor and said he went without shoes for a very simple reason — it was hot out.

“It was a very hot day and I happened to be wearing sandals like I am today so I just kicked them off because it was so hot we went across barefoot,” he told CNN in 2018. “There was no special meaning.”

Here he is recreating the famous shot for the 49th anniversary of the beloved album:

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking album, and a special anniversary recording of “Abbey Road” is climbing the charts. You may be surprised to learn that of the band’s 1.7 billion streams, 18–24-year-olds account for more than 30% of Beatles listeners on Spotify. The youngest of this demographic was born a full 32 years after “Abbey Road” was released, but that doesn’t stop them from loving the Fab Four.

To commemorate this special anniversary of “Abbey Road,” Starr and McCartney, along with their wives, attended a party at Abbey Road Studios in London on Sept. 26.

Congratulations to The Beatles on the half-century anniversary of this iconic album!