When you’re one of the biggest bands to have ever existed in the world, there are going to be a few controversies that are associated with your act, and The Beatles are no exception. The biggest scandal is, of course, the collective human insanity that must’ve occurred which convinced so many people around the world that they were actually a good band.
All kidding aside, the real weirdest conspiracy theory surrounding the Fab Four is that Paul McCartney had died in 1966 in a brutal car accident while leaving Abbey Road. While at the height of their powers, and thinking that the death of such a pivotal band member would ultimately spell doom for their success, the band and their managers all agreed to using a stand-in to replace McCartney, and that this individual would go on to play with the real Beatles, allegedly leaving tidbits in some songs that the actual Paul McCartney died.
Now, a series of drawings of The Beatles conjured up by artificial intelligence programs are giving more credence to this theory because so many of the drawings depict a fifth member of the band.
X user Rob Manuel (@robmanuel) uploaded a spooky AI drawing after he prompted the program to “draw the Beatles drinking the platonic ideal of a cup of tea.” It appears to have adhered to his instructions, placing the band of men sitting outdoors on a table where there are several cups of tea, and George and Ringo seemingly sharing one by holding it at the same time.
They’re all looking towards the viewer as a bucolic, picturesque background of rolling hills and animals frolicking lay behind them. There’s a big problem with the photo: There are five members of The Beatles seated at the table. In fact, the “two Pauls” are seated right beside each other, and they each look eerily similar to the types of photographs conspiracy theorists often use to argue that the real Paul died some time ago.
Rob, not wanting to let ChatGPT, the program he used to create the photograph, off the hook, decided to grill the program as to the identity of the fifth individual in the generated picture. The program didn’t name the fifth member, nor did it name which one was the real Paul McCartney. All ChatGPT said was that it was an additional “symbolic” element added to the image. When prompted to create another AI-generated artistic image involving The Beatles and tea, ChatGPT, again, added a fifth member to the band. Again, when asked to explain who this fifth person is, ChatGPT chalked it up to creative license.
Some Twitter users who responded to the post gave their own definitions of who ChatGPT was illustrating in the photos, like one who said that the five people in the original tea table picture were John, Paul, Paul’s stand-in, Ringo, and George.
Another person who replied to the image seemed more concerned with the troubling details included in the AI-generated image. Like this other social media user who questioned: “Why are there 9 cups of tea? And why on the far right are Ringo and Ringo/George hybrid holding the same cup? It’s like a nightmare when you look at the detail. Especially with the killer rabbit in the background”
However, it seems that AI doesn’t really care all too much about being faithful to the quantity of band members within a specific outfit, as another user noticed upon asking ChatGPT to get some other Beatles tea-drinking art of their own, they were presented with six members of the band, who someone else described: “From left to right: John, Paul, Older Paul, Ringo, Gingo.”
For one Twitter user this was more than enough proof that Paul McCartney had died and that AI accidentally shared some esoteric, deep web knowledge many had a feeling was true but never definitive proof of: “The ai confirms the replacement conspiracy its both of them”
And then when someone else tried generating an identical image, they only ended up getting three members of The Beatles in their picture to gather around a table and have some tea.
The fact is, however, that there is technically a fifth member of The Beatles that few people talk about: Pete Best was a drummer for the band between 1960-1962 before he was replaced by Ringo Starr. Best, in a brilliant troll-commercial maneuver, thought it would be a good idea to sell an album after The Beatles blew up called “Best of the Beatles,” presumably banking on the fact that most people would assume the assorted tracks were actually a compilation of Ringo, George, John, and Paul’s most famous songs, and not tracks from Pete Best.
Although the long-forgotten drummer for the band doesn’t enjoy the notoriety as the fab four outfit, he still has earned a hefty amount of royalties for his original work over the years.