After releasing Beatles Abbey Road, the Volkswagen Beetle’s number plate was repeatedly stolen

Ian Harvey
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Beatlemania, which was the term for the fan frenzy over the Beatles, lasted for years and became even more intense after they released their last eleventh album “Abbey Road” on 26 September 1969.

Although “Let It Be” was known as the band’s last album, most of its songs were recorded before the Abbey Road album’s release.

Becoming an immediate commercial success and ranked as one of the greatest albums of all times, “Abbey Road” was a rock album that combined genres such as blues, pop, and progressive rock.

Abbey Road. Photo Credit

Despite the negative criticism towards the album, “Abbey Road” sold over four million copies in its first two months of release and spent 12 weeks at first place on the Billboard Top LPs chart in the United States.

Over the years, the number of sales apparently rose to 31 million and affirmed that “Abbey Road” was one of the band’s best-selling albums, contributing to the Beatlemania that spread worldwide during that time.

Only a month after its release, the coupled songs “Something” and “ComeTogether”, topped the Billboard charts in the United States. “Come Together” was primarily written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon and McCartney, while “Something” was written by George Harrison.

An EMI TG mixing desk, similar to this one, was used in the production of Abbey Road. Photo Credit

Even the album cover became famous due to the timeless picture of the band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios. Being one of the most imitated pictures in recorded history, the cover of “Abbey Road” was actually designed by McCartney’s sketch ideas.

The picture was taken on 8 August 1969, outside EMI Studios, at 11:35 a.m. in the morning by photographer Iain Macmillan, who was given only 10 minutes to capture the perfect shot, and while a policeman held up the traffic behind the cameras.

The zebra crossing, with EMI Studios in the background, in 1969. Photo Credit

He took six photos, from which McCartney picked the one that features Lennon leading the band, followed by Starr, McCartney himself, and Harrison.

Apart from Harrison, the band members were dressed up in suits designed by Tommy Nutter, the famous designer known for reinventing the “Savile Row” suit during the 1960s.

Besides the band’s legendary walk, the cover features a Volkswagen Beetle, parked next to the zebra crossing with the number plate (LMW 281F) which was repeatedly stolen from the car after the album’s release.

The white Volkswagen Beetle belonged to one of the people living in the block of flats across from the studio and was later sold at an auction for $23,000 according to wikipedia. Today, the famous Volkswagen Beetle is available to the public eye, displayed in a museum in Germany.

However, the car isn’t the only noticeable feature on the photo. There’s also a man captured while standing on the pavement to the right. Allegedly, the American tourist named Paul Cole said that he wasn’t aware of the shooting, but was very happy to be a part of the historical cover.


Imitating the cover of Abbey Road has become popular with fans

Although it seems unnoticeable, on the original cover, McCartney holds a cigarette, however, over the years, several US poster companies removed the cigarette from the image, without asking the band’s permission.

The popular destination where the picture was taken remains as the Beatles fans’ most favorite place for taking similar photos and has even been given a Grade II listed status for its “cultural and historical importance”. Even the Abbey Road Studios themselves were given a similar status over the years.


Picture of the Abbey Road Studios. Photo Credit

Along with the many replicas of fans walking across the zebra crossing, the picture also became a subject of parodies played out by other artists.

Read another story from us: John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus

Although the band members had had their own disagreements at the time “Abbey Road” was released, it didn’t stop the Beatles from creating their final masterpiece and leaving their legendary musical mark on the industry for the last time.