A Short Film on the Famous Crosswalk From the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Cover

It’s one of the most famous images in pop cul­ture: the four mem­bers of the Bea­t­les — John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCart­ney and George Har­ri­son — strid­ing sin­gle-file over a zebra-stripe cross­ing on Abbey Road, near EMI Stu­dios in St. John’s Wood, Lon­don.

The pho­to­graph was tak­en on the late morn­ing of August 8, 1969 for the cov­er of the Bea­t­les’ last-record­ed album, Abbey Road. The idea was McCart­ney’s. He made a sketch and hand­ed it to Iain Macmil­lan, a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er who was  cho­sen for the shoot by his friends Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Macmil­lan had only ten min­utes to cap­ture the image. A police­man stopped traf­fic while the pho­tog­ra­ph­er set up a lad­der in the mid­dle of the road and framed the image in a Has­sel­blad cam­era. The Bea­t­les were all dressed in suits by Sav­ile Row tai­lor Tom­my Nut­ter — except Har­ri­son, who wore den­im. It was a hot sum­mer day. Mid­way through the shoot, McCart­ney kicked off his san­dals and walked bare­foot. Macmil­lan took a total of only six pho­tos as the musi­cians walked back and forth over the stripes. The fifth shot was the one.

Since then, the cross­ing on Abbey Road has become a pil­grim­age site for music fans from all over the world. Every day, motorists idle their engines for a moment while tourists reen­act the Bea­t­les’ cross­ing. It’s a spe­cial place, and film­mak­er Chris Pur­cell cap­tures the sense of mean­ing it has for peo­ple in his thought­ful 2012 doc­u­men­tary, Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?  The five-minute film, nar­rat­ed by poet Roger McGough, won the 2012 “Best Documentary“award at the UK Film Fes­ti­val and the “Best Super Short” award at the NYC Inde­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val. When you’ve fin­ished watch­ing the film, you can take a live look at the cross­walk on the 24-hour Abbey Road Cross­ing Web­cam.

Abbey Road Album Cover

via That Eric Alper

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Chaos & Cre­ation at Abbey Road: Paul McCart­ney Revis­its The Bea­t­les’ Fabled Record­ing Stu­dio

John, Paul and George Per­form Duel­ing Gui­tar Solos on The Bea­t­les’ Farewell Song (1969)

Bob Egan, Detec­tive Extra­or­di­naire, Finds the Real Loca­tions of Icon­ic Album Cov­ers

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Comments (3)
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  • charles reesink says:

    of course I am a fan — somuch so that i wish you coulld tellme which one it is with the cig­a­rette in his hand, so I can email deutsche welle for their week­ly quiz!
    I have to pto­ceed by deduc­tion: it is not this one,not this one, so it has to be that omne!!
    what a won­der ful piece you have done on a won­der­ful piece on a won­der­ful place!

  • John says:

    I live near the cross­ing. Peo­ple walk over it 365 days of the year — all day.

  • Paul Webb says:

    I am a retired Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Offi­cer and I served for a long time with the Police Offi­cer who parked that Police van on the right of the pho­to. He retired in 2011 after 43 years in the job. I am still in touch with him now and meet him reg­u­lar­ly.

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