Iain MacMillan

'Abbey Road' photographer

Time was tight for the Beatles in the summer of 1969 whilst they were recording in EMI's London studios in Abbey Road, St John's Wood, and the photographer Iain MacMillan was told that he could have the group for a few minutes during a lunch break for the album cover shoot. Following a suggestion from Paul McCartney, he sat on a tall ladder outside the studio and took photographs of them striding across the zebra crossing. By then, the Beatles, on the verge of disbanding, had no uniformity in their looks. Long-haired John Lennon was in a white suit, Ringo Starr in a black frock coat, McCartney in a suit bought at Oxfam, and George Harrison was in denim.

As the cover of Abbey Road, the photograph was instantly iconic but no one could have predicted what was to follow, as fans scrutinised the picture for clues that Paul McCartney had died and had been replaced by a lookalike. There were so many pointers on the album sleeve that it looked deliberate: Paul was out of step with the others; Paul was barefoot (apparently an Italian burial custom); John was the minister, Ringo the undertaker and George the gravedigger. The Volkswagen's numberplate was 281F and Paul would have been 28 IF he were alive, and so on.

MacMillan was born in Carnoustie, Angus in 1938 and attended school in Dundee. He became a trainee manager for Jute Industries but loved photography and, in 1958, studied the subject professionally. His first assignment was as a photographer on a cruise. He did much technical photography and then compiled a series of photographs of life in the city for The Book of London (1966). It was through this work that he met John Lennon, who invited him to photograph the album cover for Abbey Road.

MacMillan went on to work with Lennon and his second wife, Yoko Ono, on several of their projects. He photographed the clouds for their album Live Peace In Toronto (1969) and was also involved in the packaging of Sometime In New York City (1972). For the picture single of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", he skilfully morphed photographs of John and Yoko together.

MacMillan's representative Raj Prem says, "Iain was too gentle for the industry in which he worked and eventually he preferred to teach photography instead. He was a much better photographer than many of his contemporaries but he never said a bad word about them and was always modest."

MacMillan parodied his own cover for the album Hinge and Bracket at Abbey Road (1980) and in 1993 McCartney and MacMillan revisited the Abbey Road zebra crossing for photographs of McCartney with his sheepdog. This became a cover of a CD called, appropriately enough, Paul Is Live.

Spencer Leigh

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power