Who Was The Fifth Person On The Cover Of The Beatles' Iconic Abbey Road Album Cover?

Arguably the most famous crosswalk in the world is the one outside of Abbey Road Studios in London. The Beatles recorded nearly all of their discography at those recording studios and used the crosswalk outside for the cover of their 1969 album "Abbey Road." This location is like a pilgrimage for Beatles fans, many of whom try to recreate the album cover, sometimes at the expense of their own personal safety in the face of traffic. Still a working music studio, only staff and recording artists are allowed inside. However, fans can leave messages on the fence of Abbey Road Studios and have even written on the Abbey Road street sign nearby. 

Fans have long dissected Beatles album covers, and "Abbey Road" is no exception. Aspects of the album cover became part of the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney had died and was replaced by a lookalike. Another curious aspect of the album's cover photo is the fifth person in it. Did the man in the background hold any significance to the band?

The man in the background of Abbey Road was from Florida

The term "Florida Man" is part of comedic news headlines to the point that it has become a meme. The Washington Post explains that the meme's history is rooted all the way back to the state's colonial days. Myths about the alligator-infested territory spread, but Florida managed to market itself to the rest of the United States. As its popularity increased, other states wanted to depict Florida as an unsafe location. Florida took it all in stride. The "Florida Man" phrase further took hold as Florida made laws to allow government and arrest records to be made public as quickly as they occurred. Outlandish headlines ensued, such as "Florida Couple 'trapped' in Unlocked Closet for Two Days." 

Given the aforementioned information, it should come as no surprise that the man in the background on the "Abbey Road" album cover is a Florida man. His name was Paul Cole and he did not plan on appearing in an iconic photo on that summer day in 1969 (per The Palm Beach Post).

Paul Cole was not a fan of The Beatles

According to The Palm Beach Post, Paul Cole was on vacation in London when The Beatles were photographed for the "Abbey Road" album cover. Uninterested in the museum his wife set off to visit, he spoke to a policeman in the meantime. He did not see the photographer and did not know much about The Beatles. Cole preferred classical music and claimed that he would change the channel when they appeared on TV. What caught his eye was the way The Beatles were dressed. "They were not dressed like you'd expect in London at the time," he said. He found out that he was on the "Abbey Road" album cover when his wife later bought a copy. She was an organist playing in an upcoming wedding that was to include a song from the album.

Sadly, there was no entertaining "Florida Man" headline created at the time. Cole's identity remained a mystery for years after the album's release. Gent Side reports that Cole passed away at 96 years old in 2008.