The commonly used name for the supposed Paul McCartney replacement is William. As the story goes, one William Campbell won a Paul McCartney lookalike contest and eventually ended up as Paul's replacement. I have never been able to find out where the name even came from, other than off the top of the head of one of the early proclaimers of the Paul Is Dead theory, Fred LaBour.
It was Fred LaBour who wrote an article for the University of Michigan student newspaper announcing the death of Paul McCartney as a joke in a review of the Abbey Road album. LaBour reportedly had originally wanted to name him Glen Campbell (same name as the replacement for Brian Wilson in that other popular band). It would have been much harder to find references to "Glen" in songs (other than maybe "Danny Boy").
The name William has persisted even though there has never been any documented proof that the lookalike contest ever took place. William is a convenient and versatile name because of its many variations. Any mention of William, Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, or even the words "will" or "bill" can be identified as references to the replacement. Besides Campbell, other potential replacement Bills were Billy Shears and Bill Shepherd (sometimes Bill Sheppard).
Iamaphoney cleverly showed us that another thing that makes the name Bill convenient is that it appears when you mirror the word Paul.
We first hear the name in the opening track to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (how appropriate) when the Beatles sing "Billy Shears" (interpreted by some people as "Bill Is Here"). If we really reach, we can point out significance in the line "Tonight Mr. Kite is topping the Bill. The following year the sweet love song from the White Album "I Will" was released causing no speculation at the time.
It is interesting that one of the many takes of "Let It Be" from January of 1969 features Paul saying the word "Bill" but I don't know what that is supposed to mean. Jump ahead to Ram and we have Paul singing:
Well I know my banana is older than the rest,
and my hair is a tangled beretta. (Beretta, beretta.)
But I leave my pajamas to Billy Budapest,
and I don't get the gist of your letter. (Your letter, your letter)
We also have the Liverpool lady saying "Hello Billy" in the James Paul McCartney television special. This clip has been shown in a few Rotten Apple videos.
A couple years later in "Venus and Mars/Rock Show," Paul refers to "Silly Willy and that Philly Band." Paul McCartney is notorious for stringing words together that sound good without regard to their meaning, but all of the other people and places named in this song are real (e.g. Jimmy Page, Madison Square, and even Concertgebouw, although it is misspelled in the lyrics). I wasn't able to find anything definitive for the Silly Willy from Philly reference although I got the willies when a Google search yielded this link.
This brings us to 1984 and the release of the movie "Give My Regards to Broad Street." This was the subject of Rotten Apple 35
The BBC person seems to either be introducing Paul McCartney TO William or he is introducing Paul McCartney AS William. Which is it? It is difficult to tell. There were a lot of people in Broad Street who were not actors, and it shows. When Ringo asks Eric Stewart how he likes his new house, Stewart's response is inaudible, as if he didn't know he was being filmed. The crazy thing is that those individuals in the movie who actually were professional actors almost seemed to be making an effort to act badly. Examples of bad acting range from Bryan Brown saying "We lost the types" "We're looking for the types" "We found the types" to Ringo Starr (the most accomplished actor of the Beatles) responding to Paul's question, "You don't think Harry would go and do a stupid thing like that, do you?" with the words "Yes I do" as if he had never uttered the phrase in his life. Even the great Sir Ralph Richardson sounded like a kid in a school play when he said, "A blue one?" when asked about the box Harry was holding. With all of that questionable acting, it is not surprising that we wouldn't know who is being referred to as William in the BBC scene.
"Give My Regards to Broad Street" was accompanied by a huge promotional blitz for a movie that stayed in theaters for less time than it took to get a bag of popcorn. One of those ancillary items was this 128-page book.
Even though the book consists mainly of pictures, the small amount of text in it contains just about every detail in the movie script, including the scene with William. The words in italics are quoted directly from the book.
The interviewer, a middle-aged seasoned broadcaster, who balanced his cynicism with the correct ratio of professional attentiveness, was already there. Both of them had long ago lost the chance of moving up the ladder to comfortable posts, and were stuck, providing radio shows for an audience with whom they had nothing in common. "Do you know William?" said Terry. "Of course," said Paul.
The book gives the rest of the dialog that you hear in the movie. The next paragraph that follows is:
It was not a programme that was going to win any prizes, but William in his polished, professional manner wound it up and cued the next item on the schedule. "What a bunch of cobblers," he said after Paul had left the studio.
So, clearly the William in the scene is the old cynical radio host and not some impostor for a famous bass player.
With such a flimsy foundation, it makes you wonder how the name William has stuck around for nearly 40 years. Fred LaBour must be very proud.
Postscript: One question remains after all of this debunking. Why the hell would George Harrison name his super group "The Traveling Wilburys?"