I just finished reading Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Complete Story of the Paul McCartney Death Hoax by Andru J. Reeve. It was terrific, and I plan to write some sort of review in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I want to highlight an insightful passage from Barbara Suczek's academic essay "The Curious Case of the 'Death' of Paul McCartney," the whole of which serves as the second appendix for Reeve's book. I found the essay itself to be tedious and overwrought, but the paragraph below expertly articulates one of the main conundrums that underlay the hoax.
To account for the initial appearance of the rumor is, perhaps, the most perplexing aspect of the phenomenon. It seemed to emerge from out of nowhere, in response to nothing in particular and, as if at once to explain and justify its presence, the clues seemed similarly to emerge. But to realize the fact of the death depended upon recognizing the existence of the clues, and the clues were only recognizable if one were aware of the death. And so there is no external logic to guide a decision as to where the fundamental ambiguity lies- in the death or the clues- since it is impossible to establish a priority between them.