There's a widely circulating new conspiracy theory involving the Beatles, and it connects back to an old one in which Paul McCartney prematurely died and was replaced in the lineup.

This so-called “Satanic panic” comes courtesy of QAnon, the group best known for claiming Donald Trump is fighting a secret world order for humanity’s freedom. Some members believe McCartney's supposed death and the “butcher” album cover (which featured the Beatles surrounded by cuts of animal meat and beheaded baby dolls) proves the band was a psy-ops campaign created and funded by the British government, according to a Rolling Stone investigation.

Noting that QAnon has “floated the idea that JFK Jr. is still alive and suggested that President Biden is actually a robot,” Rolling Stone argued that members “come to these conclusions in much the same way as a ‘60s stoner would have ‘proved’ that Paul was dead: by interpreting images and texts in a way that no reasonable person ever would.”

Examples cited included one member claiming that the Beatles were “financed by the british govt to help create a counter culture w/ rock music & drugs to study it via the tavistock institute,” referring to the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, which explores social science as a solution to modern problems. The member added: “60's counter culture was mostly manufactered.”

The “butcher” image – withdrawn as sleeve art for the 1966 U.S. compilation album Yesterday and Today – was said by one member to prove that “Elite mfs want to normalize pedophilia & child sacrifices,” and the picture represented “the highest level of evil.”

Another member said McCartney's rumored death was only “an entry conspiracy theory. Once you realize how much you’ve been lied to about the Beatles, even if only in small ways where you still think Paul is Paul, it primes you for accepting that much of your culture has been a psy-op and false.” Another asked: “If Paul McCartney is really dead, and ‘They’ deceived people back in the late ‘60s, can you imagine what ‘They’ can do now???”

John Lennon’s classic track “Imagine” was referred to as a new world order anthem, while others alleged his murder in 1980 was because he’d strayed too far from the psy-ops campaign to push “hippie” values.

“I have always felt that there was something not quite right about Lennon’s murder,” a member wrote. “No fan would go that crazy to go and pull a trigger, unless they are mind-controlled.” Another claimed: “The bullets entered his body from the opposite side to where the alleged gunman was standing. It was the doorman who shot him.”

Rolling Stone concluded: “There’s so much existing lore to the band, many Q soldiers are old enough to remember seeing them on TV, and the trove of eccentric lyrics and art is inexhaustible. … They can turn anything into deranged content. The lads from Liverpool just make it easy.”

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