Alternative Conspiracy Theory: Ringo Is Dead

Some time ago I bought a book in which the author suggests that the Beatle death “clues” do not point to Paul’s death and replacement by a lookalike, but instead refer to Ringo. The book is goofy but earnest with a rambly, overpunctuated title, PAUL IS DEAD!!!! OR………… IS RINGO DEAD???? DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT SECRET???? by Azing Moltmaker. Many of the “Ringo is dead” clues are simply transferred from the “Paul is dead” story, since so many are vague references to death. Still, Moltmaker has come up with a number of “Ringo is dead” clues that are unique to this version of the story. For example, among the wax figures of the Fab Four on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Ringo is the only one not wearing a tie. Instead he wears a black sweater (“a sign of mourning” according to Moltmaker) and the Ringo figure appears to be grieving over the gravesite.

The blurb on the back cover of Moltmaker’s book goes so far as to suggest that the “Paul is dead” rumor was a “diversion” from the real Beatle death: Ringo.

This sort of neverending search for Beatle death clues was most effectively parodied in an article that has long been on rec.music.beatles, “Everyone BUT Paul Is Dead.”

Though it has a long way to go toward acquiring the same meme status as the “Paul is dead” rumor, “Ringo is dead” references have popped up occasionally on the internet, though without any enduring presence. “Ringo Is Dead” at one time had a page on Facebook, and some poorly made videos have appeared on YouTube. Gone now is the Ringo Is Dead website, which laid out an even goofier account of Ringo’s death than Azing Moltmaker’s book. Without the same underlying mythology, “Ringo is dead” just doesn’t have the same appeal as the “Paul is dead” rumor. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Ringo is not dead. Answers.com gives a short, definitive answer to the question “Is Ringo Starr dead?” stating, “no he is still alive and well” In stark contrast to Azing Moltmaker’s overpunctuated book, Answers.com feels no need for punctuation in this case.

References to “Ringo is dead” have also popped up in odd places, perhaps the oddest is in a scholarly article on semantics. In his discussion of “transfers of meaning” in a 1995 article in theJournal of Semantics, Berkeley lingusitics professor Geoffrey Nunberg uses Ringo as a running example (and I assume he means Ringo Starr because he states, “Ringo denotes the singer”) and manages to kill him along the way. A transfer of meaning is a linguistic mechanism we use to refer to a person or something related to that person, sometimes even in the same sentence. When someone says something like “Ringo was hit in the fender by a truck when he was momentarily distracted by a motorcycle,” the first reference is to Ringo’s car and the second reference is to Ringo himself. Nunberg’s next example is “Ringo was hit in the fender by a truck two days after he died.” For the rest of that section of the paper Ringo is dead, but Nunberg resurrects him in the next section to discuss how Ringo squeezed himself into a tight space.

Another strange reference to “Ringo is dead” came from sound collage artists Negativland. Negativland’s 1984 album Over the Edge Vol. 4: Dick Vaughn’s Moribund Music of The ’70s contains a track called “Ringo Is Dead.” Negativland is involved with a weekly radio show called “Over the Edge” broadcast on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California, and the Over the Edge series of albums contain material edited from those shows. “Ringo Is Dead” was one of many prank phone calls to other radio stations from Dick Vaughn.

“Ringo Is Dead” by Negativland. Running Time 6:55

Not really related but I though I would mention a band with one of the cleverst names of all time, Ringo Deathstarr, who sound much like My Bloody Valentine in their most recent single.

Azing Moltmaker’s book has an April Fool’s Day connection. Moltmaker reprints Bruce Spizer’s April Fool’s joke article “Paul McCartney Admits Beatles Planned Death Hoax” that appeared in the April 1, 2004 issue of Goldmine magazine.

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