“I’d been unofficially dead for nearly fifteen years – I was getting bored, I needed to make music again,” says Harold Plucker, who portrays Paul McCartney in the current Bootleg Beatles line up and has recently stunned the music world by claiming that he is actually the real Paul McCartney. “Forming a Beatles tribute band seemed the obvious thing to do – who would ever suspect that I was impersonating myself?” Plucker claims that back in 1966, as Paul McCartney, he was finding the pressures of being a member of the world’s most successful pop act too much. “There’s only so much drugs and sex a man can do – I was worried my knob was going to get worn away with all that shagging,” he explains. “Not only that, but we were having serious artistic differences – the other guys all wanted to adopt crazy facial hair. I’m still convinced that they were jealous of my natural good looks, and that it was just a ploy by those ugly bastards to get me to hide my handsome visage behind a huge bushy beard.” However, the other members of the band were reluctant to either contemplate a split, or bringing in a new member. “They were afraid that changing the line-up could alienate the fans,” he recalls. “Then Brian Epstein came up with the idea of replacing me with a lookalike. It was brilliant – it meant that I could assume a new identity and escape the limelight altogether.” Consequently, a suitable replacement was recruited and given extensive plastic surgery. “I carried on writing for the band until they split up,” claims Plucker/McCartney. “I never wrote for my replacement when he went solo – that’s all his own work.” Rumours about the replacement started to circulate in the late 1960s, and wild stories that the real McCartney had died in an accident, or had even been murdered began to spread. “Those crazy stories suited me,” says Plucker/McCartney. “They made it easier for me to disappear – if everyone thought I was dead, nobody would be looking for me. ” Indeed, he actively encouraged the conspiracy theorists, contributing several variations of his own via fanzines and obscure underground publications. “I was particularly proud of the rumour that I’d been abducted by a group of crazy groupie chicks and had died of a heart attack during a gang bang,” the alleged ex-Beatle chuckles. “That and the one that John Lennon had shot me during an argument over who had the best arse – Cynthia or Jane Asher – and had then panicked and buried my body under a tree.”

With the substitution established, the real Paul McCartney was free to finally follow his own path. “It was great, I was at last able to fulfil several lifelong ambitions,” he explains. “In particular, I had the opportunity to explore my sexuality, and get in touch with my feminine side.” Consequently, he spent five years living as a woman. “I never had the op to make it permanent, but I did consider it,” he confides. “The whole experience was a real eye-opener, making me realise that women are people too, not just sex objects. ” A point brought home, he claims, when John Lennon mistook him for a groupie during an incognito visit to Abbey Road studios. “It was appalling, the way he was all over me. Before I knew it, he had me bent over a mixing desk in an empty studio and was fumbling with my knickers,” Plucker recalls with a shudder. “I can tell you, it was quite a shock for both of us when he finally stuck his hand between my legs!” Plucker denies that he has any regrets over his decision to leave the Beatles when he did. “I know they went on to even greater heights, and my surrogate took a lot of the credit, but I really don’t envy him his success,” he says. “Hell, I didn’t have to go through the agony of that marriage to Heather! Not only that, but I didn’t have to be a bloody vegetarian for years, like he did when he was with Linda! Christ, I don’t think I could have existed that long without a bacon butty! In truth, about the only thing I did miss was seeing Jane Asher nude. But sadly, I had to give her up when I went underground.” Plucker himself eventually married Rita, a former Cilla Black impersonator, with whom he ran a Bed and Breakfast in Fleetwood for several years. However, the call of the music biz eventually became too strong for him and, by the late 1970s, he started putting together his new band.

Having made the decision to form a Beatles tribute band, Plucker/McCartney now faced the task of recruiting three other members. “It seemed obvious – if we were going to achieve that authentic Beatles sound, we’d need as many of the old crew as possible,” he says. “I honestly thought that John would be the most difficult to persuade, but it turned out that he was getting tired of is life with Yoko and was finding his solo career unsatisfying.” Obviously, the real John Lennon couldn’t play himself in a tribute band, so the ex-Beatle decided to follow his band mate’s example and faked his own death. However, the other members of the band proved more difficult to recruit. “George and Ringo just weren’t interested,” says Plucker/McCartney. “I offered the drummer’s job to Pete Best – he jumped at the chance, even though it meant having to wear a false moustache and fake nose.” Finding a faux-George Harrison was more problematic. “We auditioned hundreds of lookalikes, but they were all crap. None of them could play like George,” he sighs. “Then we heard about this kid – he had a guitar-shaped stigmata on his side. Sometimes it would gently weep. We decided that was a sign.” Incredibly, the new recruit proved to be a brilliant guitarist. “It was uncanny, he sounded exactly like George,” says Plucker/McCartney. “John reckoned he was like the Dalai Lama, you can identify him as a true reincarnation by his birthmarks.” He believes that his group represents the true spirit of the Beatles. “Just look at the crap attributed to the ‘real’ Beatles since we split up – those two lousy singles in the 1990s,” he says dismissively. “It was clear that without the song-writing genius of Lennon and McCartney, they were nothing.” In answer to the criticism that the Bootleg Beatles haven’t produced any original material at all, he points out that the songs they perform represent the peak of his and Lennon’s creative output: “You can’t improve on perfection. The public knows that, so we keep giving them what they want – the fruit of our genius!”