Crowds gather to mark 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover photo

Members of the Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, cross Abbey Road in London, Britain, August 8, 1969. Iain Macmillan, courtesy Apple Corps/via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Hundreds of people gathered at the world’s most famous zebra crossing on Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the day the Beatles were photographed on it, creating one of the best-known album covers in music history and an image imitated by countless fans ever since.

The picture of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr striding over the pedestrian crossing on Abbey Road was taken outside the EMI Recording Studios where they made the 1969 album of the same name.

Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan took just six shots of the group on the crossing, with the fifth used as the cover of the band’s 11th studio album, released on Sept. 26 1969.

The picture shows Lennon in a white suit leading the group across the road. Starr wears a black suit while McCartney is barefoot, out of step and holding a cigarette. Harrison is in blue denim. A Volkswagen Beetle is parked in the background.

On Thursday, the Beetle was back in position while traffic crawled along the crowded street as dozens of fans paraded on the black and white painted crossing for souvenir photos.

‘Abbey Road’, which was voted the best Beatles album by readers of Rolling Stone in 2009, was the only one of the group’s original British albums to show neither the band’s name nor a title on the cover.

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The album was the last to be recorded by all four members of the band together, and it had tracks written by each of them, including ‘Come Together’ by Lennon, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by Harrison, ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ by McCartney, and Starr’s ‘Octopus’s Garden’.

Less than a year after ‘Abbey Road’ was released, rock music’s best-selling band had split up, ending a decade-long musical revolution that transformed the 1960s and laid the foundations of modern popular culture.

The studios, which were later renamed Abbey Road, and the zebra crossing were granted protected status by the government in 2010.

Editing by Stephen Addison

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