Abbey Road 40 Years Ago

The Beatles Abbey Road album, released on 26 September 1969, became a pop culture icon through the album cover designed by Apple Records creative director John Kosh and photographed by British photographer Iain Macmillan.

Abbey Road Album Cover

On August 8, 1969, Iain Macmillan set up a shoot of the band walking across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road, near the EMI Abbey Road Studios, St John’s Wood. Macmillan stood on a step ladder to take six photos of John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney (barefooted) and George Harrison. Paul Cole, an American tourist who just happened to be standing there. A Volkswagen Beetle, parked on Abbey Road, belonged to a resident living across the road from the studio, who later had to put up with the number plate being repeatedly stolen. The car was sold for $23,000 at an auction in 1986 and is now on display at the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The photograph for the back cover was taken on the corner of Abbey Road and Alexandra Road and includes a girl in a blue dress who inadvertently walked in front of the camera during the shoot.

Abbey Road Album Cover

The zebra crossing today remains a popular destination for Beatles fans. On August 8, 2009, Beatles fans gathered by the zebra crossing to recreate the famous photo shoot.

Click on the image below to play the video.

First Photo. John leads the group from left to right followed by Ringo, Paul and George. They kept this order throughout all the photos. There is a Mercedes pulling out of the studio behind them. John is looking away from the camera and Paul and George are in mid step. Paul is wearing flip-flop sandals!

Second Photo. They walk back in the same order. Good spacing but only John has a full step.

Third Photo. Left to right again, full steps this time but they are all too far left. There is now a traffic backup. There is a taxi, two vans and a double decker bus waiting to come forward. Paul is now barefoot.

Fourth Photo. Walking right to left, once again Paul Ringo and George all in mid step. The traffic has gone through but the bus has stopped to watch. This photo is the cover of “Abbey Road” by Brian Southall.

Fifth Photo. The Cover! The only photo where we see Paul smoking. The only one with their legs in perfect formation. The three men on the left above Paul’s head are Alan Flanagan, Steve Millwood and Derek Seagrove. They were interior decorators returning from a lunch break. On the right side between John and Ringo’s head is Paul Cole an American tourist.

Sixth Photo. Ringo slightly too far behind John.

Filed under: Ambient, Design

Tagged: ,