Paul McCartney has a moped accident in Liverpool

In what would become one of the key ‘clues’ in the ‘Paul is dead’ myth, on 26 December 1965 Paul McCartney suffered a moped accident while visiting his family in Liverpool.

McCartney fell from his moped and chipped a front tooth. He also cut his lip and was left with a scar.

Last mid-December, Paul injured his lip and chipped his tooth in the moped accident. He honestly thought no one would notice the chip, for it is so small. I told him three times he should do something about it. It is in a place where there are no nerve ends, so there is no pain. Paul assured me that he would have the tooth capped, but – unfortunately – he has not done so. Could he be afraid of the dentist? It is my opinion that he will just let it be.

Also on the night time ride was Tara Browne, McCartney’s friend. Browne was the Guinness heir whose death inspired John Lennon to write the opening lines of ‘A Day In The Life’.

Paul McCartney after his moped accident, December 1965

I had an accident when I came off a moped in Wirral, near Liverpool. I had a very good friend who lived in London called Tara Browne, a Guinness heir – a nice Irish guy, very sensitive bloke. I’d see him from time to time, and enjoyed being around him. He came up to visit me in Liverpool once when I was there seeing my dad and brother. I had a couple of mopeds on hire, so we hit upon the bright idea of going to my cousin Bett’s house.

We were riding along on the mopeds. I was showing Tara the scenery. He was behind me, and it was an incredible full moon; it really was huge. I said something about the moon and he said ‘yeah’, and I suddenly had a freeze-frame image of myself at that angle to the ground when it’s too late to pull back up again: I was still looking at the moon and then I looked at the ground, and it seemed to take a few minutes to think, ‘Ah, too bad – I’m going to smack that pavement with my face!’ Bang!

There I was, chipped tooth and all. it came through my lip and split it. But I got up and we went along to my cousin’s house. When I said, ‘Don’t worry, Bett, but I’ve had a bit of an accident,’ she thought I was joking. She creased up laughing at first, but then she went ‘Holy…!’ I’d really given my face a good old smack; it looked like I’d been in the ring with Tyson for a few rounds. So she rang a friend of hers who was a doctor.

He came round on the spot, took a needle out and, after great difficulty threading it, put it in the first half of the wound. He was shaking a bit, but got it all the way through, and then he said, ‘Oh, the thread’s just come out – I’ll have to do it again!’ No anaesthetic. I was standing there while he rethreaded it and pulled it through again.

In fact that was why I started to grow a moustache. It was pretty embarrassing, because around that time you knew your pictures would get winged off to teeny-boppery magazines like 16, and it was pretty difficult to have a new picture taken with a big fat lip. So I started to grow a moustache – a sort of Sancho Panza – mainly to cover where my lip had been sewn.

It caught on with the guys in the group: if one of us did something like growing his hair long and we liked the idea, we’d all tend to do it. And then it became seen as a kind of revolutionary idea, that young men of our age definitely ought to grow a moustache! And it all fell in with the Sgt Pepper thing, because he had a droopy moustache.

Paul McCartney

McCartney’s chipped tooth and scar can be seen in the promotional videos for ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’, which were filmed in London in May 1966.

The encounter with the drunken doctor helped inspire the 1968 song ‘Rocky Raccoon’.

I did once have an accident in Liverpool where I fell off a moped and busted my lip open, and we had to get the doctor round to my cousin Betty’s house. That was around this same time, when I was twenty-something and going out on the moped from my dad’s house to Betty’s house. I was taking a friend, Tara Guinness. He died later in a car accident. He was a nice boy. I wrote about him in ‘A Day In The Life’: ‘He blew his mind out in a car/He didn’t notice that the lights had changed’. Anyway, I was with Tara and had an accident – fell off my moped, busted my lip, went to Betty’s, and she said, ‘Get a doctor, get a doctor. It needs stitches.

So they got this guy, and he arrived stinking of gin. This guy was so drunk. ‘Hello, Paul. How are you?’ ‘Great.’ ‘Oh yes, that’s going to need stitches. I’ve brought my bag.’ So be brings his black bag and now he’s got to try and thread a little needle, a curved surgical needle, but he’s seeing three needles at least.

I think I said, ‘Let us do it.’ And we threaded it for him. I said, ‘You’re just going to do this with no anaesthetic?’ He said, ‘Well, I haven’t got any.’ I think I might have had a slug of scotch or something. He just put the needle in and pulled it round. And then the thread came out and he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I have to do that again.’

So he had to do it a second bloody time, and I was trying not to scream. To be honest, he really didn’t do a marvellous job, and I had this bump in my lip for a good while after. I can still feel it. And I was black and blue and really quite a mess. So I decided to grow a moustache. Then the other Beatles saw it and liked it, so they all grew moustaches too. John got so into it that I think somebody bought him a moustache cup with a little lid that sort of stops the moustache from getting wet when you drink. That’s where I think this ‘stinking of gin’ image came from – from this little painful memory.

Last updated: 8 February 2023
George Harrison pays a surprise visit to his family
The Beatles attend New Year's Eve parties
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