A step in time: Beatles crossed 'Abbey Road' into history 45 years ago

Crossing the street has never been as iconic a moment as it was 45 years ago on Friday, when The Beatles strolled across Abbey Road and stepped into one of rock 'n' roll's most memorable images.

The photograph, which became the cover art for the "Abbey Road" album, captured George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon in the crosswalk in front of Abbey Road Studios on Aug. 8, 1969.

There's plenty of fun history and conspiracy theories related to the cover and the image.

  • The shoot, by photographer Iain Macmillan, only took about 10 minutes and resulted in fewer than 10 images.
  • John Kosh, the creative director behind the cover, insisted that the band's name and the title didn't need to be on the album. "They were the most famous band in the world after all."
  • A barefoot and out-of-step McCartney fueled some of the "Paul is dead" nonsense.
  • By some accounts, the Abbey Road street sign is among the most stolen in the world.

Fans still flock to the crossing to hold up traffic and step into their own piece of history. A web cam on the Abbey Road Studios site will show you tourists blocking taxis in real time. Friday was a particularly busy day.

Two summers ago, TODAY's Natalie Morales (George), Matt Lauer (Paul), Al Roker (Ringo), and Savannah Guthrie (John) recreated the image, complete with Volkswagen Beetle in the background.

Image: TODAY anchors on Abbey Road TODAY

Starr told Lauer in 2012, as they stepped through a zebra-striped crossing, that he "can't even look at one without thinking about those days." He also said the band had grand ideas for the "Abbey Road" album cover — "We must go to Eqypt ... or we must got to a volcano" — before they decided they would just walk across the road.

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