Abbey Road Photo: The Man in the Background
I read the news today…about a new photo that surfaced in the Beatles famous Abbey Road album cover shoot. The Beatles are walking in the opposite direction in the new photo. And Paul is wearing sandals instead of being barefoot. It’s all very interesting. To me, however, here’s the most interesting thing: the man in the background is still there, just like in the photo that eventually became the cover shot. And I knew him.
It was back in the mid-1970s and I lived in Austin, Texas, as I do today. The group of friends I hung out with included a guy named Robert – and I’m sorry I can’t remember his last name now. He was a few years older than me. One day he told me that he was on the cover of Abbey Road. Now that’s just something you didn’t hear all the time.
He then pulled his wallet out and showed me a photograph of himself in London on Abbey Road. The setting is the same, except the Beatles aren’t walking across the street. He said he was in London at that time and saw the shoot going on as he was standing on the sidewalk that day. Later when the album came out and he realized he was in the photo, he put on the same clothes he was wearing that day and had a friend go back to the location and shoot a picture of him – for posterity, right?
It was pretty amazing. It’s him in the photo. The photo he pulled out of his wallet way back in the ‘70s was worn and faded and crinkled (he had been carrying it around for about six or seven years by then), but when you looked at it and you looked at him, you had to say, “Wow, that is you all right.”
He passed away several years ago, but every time I see the Abbey Road cover I always think of him. So today when news came out that there was an exciting new photo of the Beatles walking the wrong way as depicted in their iconic cover shot, I looked at it immediately. Yep, there’s Robert (no, he’s not the famous “Dr. Robert” from the Beatles song). But in this shot there’s no black London taxi near him. That must’ve pulled up at a different time because he is standing near the taxi on the cover photo. He was in the right time at the right place.