Photo of The Beatles walking back across Abbey Road up for auction
A rare photograph taken during the shoot for the Abbey Road cover shows the Beatles walking back across the road, from right to left.
The photograph of The Beatles walking across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road, London is one of music’s most famous and enduring images. Now a rare photograph of the band walking the other way is due to come up for auction next week.
In 1969, on a hot August day, photographer Iain Macmillan stood on a ladder in the middle of the road to replicate a sketch drawn by Paul McCartney depicting what he wanted the Abbey Road album cover to look like. The shoot took only 10 minutes, with a police officer holding up the traffic.
In 2011 the album became the top-selling vinyl record for the third consecutive year – 43 years after it was released.
The photograph coming up for sale at Bloomsbury Auctions is one of only six shots taken that day and shows them walking back across the road, from right to left. Only 25 prints of it were made.
Even more excitingly for Beatles fans, McCartney is wearing sandals in the picture. In the famous version of the photograph, McCartney is seen in bare feet and out of step with the rest of the band. This has prompted a series of bizarre conspiracy theories among some enthusiasts who believe that McCartney actually died in the Sixties and has been replaced by a body double. They see the album cover as filled with hidden clues – with McCartney’s bare feet representing his difference from the rest of the band.
McCartney has always claimed, however, that his bare feet were merely the result of him having kicked off his sandals as it was such a hot day. Indeed, this new photograph appears to confirm that.
The zebra crossing on Abbey Road, St John’s Wood has since been given Grade II listed status and is a pilgrimage site for fans.
The Volkswagen Beetle seen on the left-hand-side of the frame was sold at auction for £2,530 in 1986.
The auction house has put a conservative estimate of £7,000 to £9,000 on the photograph, though it is expected that it may go for more than that.
MacMillan, who died in 2006, once said of the image, “The one eventually chosen for the cover was number five of six. It was the only one that had their legs in a perfect 'V' formation.
“That photo's been called an icon of the 1960s. I suppose it is. I think the reason it became so popular is its simplicity. It's a very simple, stylised shot. Also it's a shot people can relate to. It's a place where people can still walk.”
The auction will take place on 22 May.