Last Thursday, 8 August, Beatlemania descended on London all over again, when thousands of fans made a pilgrimage to Abbey Road 50 years after the Fab Four walked over its zebra crossing for the cover of the last album the band recorded, Abbey Road, which is set for reissue in a variety of expanded formats through Apple Corps/Capitol/UMe on 27 September.
The band was pictured striding across the road the album was named after on 8 August 1969. The image of John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison outside the Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood is one of music’s most iconic pictures.
The picture was taken at around 11:35 am on August 8, 1969 by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan. The time of day was chosen to avoid fans, who knew that the band typically turned up at the studios in the mid-afternoon. Macmillan stood on a stepladder in the street, while a policeman stopped the traffic.
The photographer took six frames, of which the fifth one was used – the only one with the band stepping in unison. The photo shoot took ten minutes to complete and the album’s final recordings were done 12 days later on August 20.
Since the release of the iconic Liverpool group’s 11th studio album, the zebra crossing has become a tourist hot-spot for devout fans who stop traffic to pose for pictures on the same spot. And on Thursday, Beatlemania lived again as crowds came together in droves to recreate the moment once more. UDiscover Music were on hand to capture the scenes in a specially-sanctioned video you can watch above.
Fans at the event were in high spirits and many dressed up as their heroes in tribute to the band. One fan, Momo Raickovic, who dressed as George Harrison, told BBC News that the scene outside the studio was “magical”, with groups bursting into renditions of their favourite Beatles songs.
“It’s the cultural impact The Beatles had”, he said. “They were constantly spreading their message of peace and love. It’s still relevant today and that’s evident in the number of people who have turned out today.”
“They were so ahead of their time”, commented another fan. “[Abbey Road] is the last album they did together in the studio and everyone knows it. It’s just an honour to be here on this day.”
Fans of the group were also joined by a Beatles lookalike band, who arrived in a replica of Lennon’s Rolls Royce car. Transport for London said two bus routes were briefly diverted as queues to cross the road blocked access as Beatlemania descended.
Abbey Road Studios invited people to have their photo taken against a cardboard backdrop of the original Beatles image in their car park amid the crowds.
The expanded 50th anniversary edition of Abbey Road is out on 27 September and can be bought here.