Abbey Road is beyond any doubt one of the most recognizable album covers in music history, and guaranteed also the most imitated and parodied. The crossing where the picture was taken of the four Beatles is still a well visited location by fans, even after almost 50 years have passed.
But how did this icon of a picture happen? Here are some facts and anecdotes for your pleasure…
The initial album title was Everest, dubbed after the cigarettes, which sound engineer Geoff Emerick smoked. On the package was a silhouette of Mount Everest and The Beatles like the picture.
They had originally planned to jump onboard a private aircraft and fly to Mount Everest to take a cover picture of the four of them stood at the foot of the mountain. But as they got more and more impatient about finishing off the album, Paul McCartney suggested that they simply walk outside the studio, take a picture and name the album after the road.
The picture was snapped around 11:30 am on the 8th of August 1969 outside EMI Studios on Abbey Road. Photographer Iain Macmillan was only given 10 minutes to take the picture while he stood perched atop a stepladder as a police officer held back traffic.
McCartney was wearing sandals on the two first pictures, but took them off thereafter and thread barefoot. This evolved into being one of the clues of the Paul Is Dead myth, which started in September 1969.
The band were walking out of sync on pictures 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. However the fifth shot was perfect, and ended up being the picture chosen by Paul McCartney for the cover.
On the original British release, the album had neither the artists name nor the title of the album printed on the cover.
After the album was released, the number plate of the white VW Beetle – which belonged to one of the residents living across from the studio – was stolen from the car on several occasions.
In 1986 the white VW Beetle was sold at an auction for £ 2,530. Later, in 2001, it was displayed at a museum in Germany.
The man stood on the sidewalk in the right of the picture, is an American tourist named Paul Cole. He was totally unaware that he had his picture taken, until several months later when he saw the album cover.
The road crossing was Grade II listed in December 2010, because of its cultural and historical significance.