(AFP) Aug 7, 2009
LONDON Precisely 40 years on from the moment the "Abbey Road" album
cover was photographed, Beatles fans on Saturday mobbed the most
famous pedestrian crossing in Britain to celebrate the iconic image.
Hundreds of fans flocked to Abbey Road in northwest London, singing
Beatles songs as they jammed the two-lane street around the zebra
crossing in the well-heeled Saint John's Wood neighbourhood.
It was outside the Abbey Road recording studios at 11.35am on August
8, 1969 that The Beatles strutted across the street for the picture
of what would be the final album they made as a group.
Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, standing on a stepladder in the
middle of the road, had just 10 minutes to knock off six frames of
rhythm guitarist John Lennon, drummer Ringo Starr, bassist Paul
McCartney and lead guitarist George Harrison traversing the quiet,
Tony Bramwell, the band's former road manager, was there and returned
Saturday for the mass gathering.
"Other than Paul and Ringo, I'm the only person alive who was here on
that day. It's great to see that the whole thing carries on," he said.
"Through the musical genres and revolutions of the last 40 years, The
Beatles are still number one."
Beatles tribute outfit Sgt. Pepper's Only Dartboard Band, wearing
outfits like the Fab Four did on the day, led fans across the road,
and a replica of Lennon's colourful "psychedelic" Rolls-Royce was
driven over the crossing.
Richard Porter, who owns the nearby Beatles Coffee Shop, said he was
"flummoxed" by the number of fans at the crossing -- enough to block
a double-decker bus for a few minutes.
"I get fans literally from all over the world at the shop," he said.
"And today we've got television crews from 15 different countries and
God knows how many press photographers."
"The picture is just so easy to copy -- well, normally it is easy to
copy. It is simple and it's like a shrine to the Beatles."
In the original picture, McCartney alone walked in bare feet, out of
step with his bandmates, a cigarette in his right hand -- unusual for
a left-hander, perhaps, but enough to spark the notorious "Paul is
Lennon, who would be shot and killed in New York in December 1980,
was in head-to-toe white. Behind him was Starr in black, then
McCartney. Harrison brought up the rear in blue denim shirt and bell-bottoms.
Re-enacting the walk across Abbey Road is what hundreds of tourists
-- walking single file, eyes firmly looking straight ahead -- every
day come to Saint John's Wood to do.
The Beatles made nearly all their records at Abbey Road studios, from
where a webcam peers down on the crosswalk -- making virtual visits
to Abbey Road possible from anywhere on Earth.