The girl in the blue dress – still an enigma

The Abbey Road cover (back) before retouching?

In the aftermath of yesterday’s story about the retouching of the Abbey Road cover, Guus Limberger has sent us a photo of the back cover without the “BEATLES” sign, which indicates that the girl in the blue dress was already part of the photo before it reached the retouching stage. Of course, it could have been an intermediate version, with the girl superimposed on the photo, but before John Cockcroft started piecing together the “BEATLES” sign.

However, the “O” and “A” letters are mended, so some manipulation may have taken place. That is, if these letters were really damaged in the first place.

The “Alexandra Road” photos indicate this, as can be seen in the photo of the “cover tourists” from yesterday’s post, but also in the black and white shot, taken at a different date.

The “O” is clearly damaged in this photo, too.

Thorsten Knublauch doesn’t believe the story about the girl being added “by darkroom trickery” either, and quotes from Wikipedia: “After the shoot Iain went to find a road sign for use on the back cover. It was taken on the corner with Alexandra Road. During photographing the sign a girl in a blue dress walked through the shot. Iain was angry but later it was chosen as the back cover. The wall with the sign was demolished several years later.”

Why Macmillan would be upset about the girl walking by is strange. After all, all he needed to do was snap one more photo, sans girl. Still, we just have to conclude that the mystery girl is still an enigma, unless someone comes up with the original back cover photo before the girl was added.

Update: Abbey Road – Back cover again

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16 Responses

  1. piper909 says:

    As a photographer (mainly but not always amateur) myself, I can easily understand getting annoyed when someone walks into your shot. These things take time to set up and to have a shot "ruined" at the crucial time is no end aggravating, no matter that you can take another one. You always hope that every shot will be "the one". besides, we're talking about film, not digital. A wasted shot costs money in wasted film!

  2. Unknown says:

    If there is some doubt that the girl was added later – then I side with that doubt. The high sunlight on the girl seems a perfect match for the sunlight on the wall. Even with today's photo-shop techniques – it would still require exactly the right photograph of the girl (lighting wise)to create such a perfect match. And the seamless 'blur' of the girl? Again, easy to do now – not so easy then…

  3. Unknown says:

    PS. The girl in the blue dress may not have ever realized then – or to this day – that she is a part of a Beatles album cover…!

  4. Edward R says:

    If the girl ruined the shot, would she not be on the left not right? Unless she is walking backwards ….

  5. Martin says:

    Maybe someone should ask John Kosh. Kosh was involved in many album cover designs, including Abbey Road and Let It Be. He's still around and working in LA.

    I remember Iain talking about the girl in the photo being a 'happy accident'. What stinks to me about all this is that this 'retouching'was never mentioned when MacMillan was alive. I personally think Iain was telling the truth, and that this retouching stuff is a load of bollocks.

  6. Martin says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It's funny because the appearance of this pic is exactly synced with an urgent question I had after watching the excellent 'Cranberry Sauce' film on the 'Paul Is Dead' saga. At one point someone asserts that the Abbey Road photo was altered so that there were only 9 dots to form the alleged '3' and although this is a small pic, it actually turns out that this appears to be a correct assertion!
    From what I can see, there are more dots in the area which comes within the frame of the back cover shot.

    I've always been of the opinion that Paul was behind all of 'PID' and had no problem making suggestions to the art directors etc without revealing his intentions. His decision to disappear to Scotland for an extended out of contact period just as the story was breaking always seemed a little too cute for me even when I was 11. 😛

  8. Anonymous says:

    Whoops. The preceding comment actually refers to the black and white pic of the scene of the actual signage elsewhere in the series of Wogblog's current Abbey Road posts.

    I did want to comment that this version of the cover shot, due to contrast and saturation effects, is the one where one can most easily perceive some truth in the PID cluesters' historic assertion that Paul's face is merged into the girl's image.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Apologies. Both pics I refer to are in THIS post. Confusion caused by the pics not appearing when one goes to the commenting page.

  10. Unknown says:

    My understanding is that there were several pics taken for the back cover, some without the girl. But the photographer chose the one with the girl because it was the most interesting visually

  11. Unknown says:

    The girl in the blue dress his my mother in law she has pictures to prove she was there talking to the beatles in her blue dress.

  12. Unknown says:

    Really? Who is she? can you post a pic. I've always been curious to know what she looked like.

  13. Unknown says:

    Oh bullshit. Shut you pie hole(s).

  14. Lino says:

    Personally I think it made the back photo of the album, it would have been bland just to see bricks and it also added to the times of the fashion that was going on.

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