As noted by Beatles Bible, the shoot for the “Abbey Road” cover took place on August 8, 1969, and the photos were taken by freelance photographer Iain Macmillian, who was friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The concept for the cover was McCartney’s idea, and while Macmillian was getting things ready, Paul’s wife Linda took a few photos of her own, including one that shows her husband clearly wearing a pair of sandals. Likewise, he donned the footwear for two of the six pictures Macmillian snapped, but in the other four, he chose to go barefoot. These included the image the Beatles ultimately chose for the cover, and as Mental Floss pointed out, they picked it because it was the only one of the six photos where everyone in the band had their legs in mid-stride.
So why did McCartney take off his sandals? It had everything to do with the weather, and nothing to do with “William Campbell” and the other Beatles trying to subtly push the “Paul is dead” narrative. When LIFE magazine approached McCartney about the death rumors later that year, he seemed annoyed when the publication brought up the fact he went shoeless on the “Abbey Road” cover. “On ‘Abbey Road’ we were wearing our ordinary clothes. I was walking barefoot because it was a hot day,” he explained. “Can you spread it around that I am just an ordinary person and want to live in peace?”