Beatles fans gathered near London's Abbey Road Studios on Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic album covers of all time.

The picture of the Fab Four walking across the pedestrian crossing outside the studios was shot for the sleeve of Abbey Road, The Beatles' final studio album.

The shot of John Lennon leading band mates Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison across Abbey Road has since become one of the most recognised album covers of all time - despite the fact that it did not feature the name of the band or the album - and has even led to a number of conspiracy theories about the band.

The idea for the cover came from a sketch by Beatles roadie and assistant Mal Evans of the band on the now famous zebra crossing.

The picture was taken at around 11:35 am on August 8, 1969 by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan.

The time of day was chosen to avoid fans, who knew that the band typically turned up at the studios in the mid-afternoon.

Macmillan stood on a stepladder in the street, while a policeman stopped the traffic.

Macmillan took six frames, of which the fifth one was used - the only one with the band stepping in unison. The photo shoot took ten minutes to complete and the album's final recordings were done 12 days later on August 20.

Abbey Road was released on September 26, six days after Lennon privately told his band mates he was quitting the group.

Recorded after the troubled Let It Be album, which was eventually released on May 8, 1970, Abbey Road was made in a much happier atmosphere.

The album contained 17 tracks, including Harrison's Something and Here Comes the Sun, Starr's Octopus's Garden, Lennon's Come Together, and the closing suite of scraps of unfinished songs largely by McCartney.

The cover also fuelled the "Paul Is Dead" conspiracy theory. Some people believed that McCartney having a cigarette in his right hand despite being left-handed proved he was an imposter, and saw hidden messages in him walking out of step with the others and being barefoot.

There was also speculation about the white Volkswagon Beetle in the background of the famous album cover, which had a registration plate of 28 IF - the age Paul would have been if he was still alive. 

Some 190 of The Beatles' 210 songs were recorded at Abbey Road, and McCartney's London home is just around the corner.

It has drawn Beatles pilgrims from across the world ever since, with countless fans having walked over the zebra crossing, replicating the picture.

The crossing is also continuously live-streamed on the studio's website.

The studio, normally closed to the public, has given up trying to deter visitors from scrawling graffiti on the white garden wall and now encourages it, painting over the messages several times a year.

Meanwhile, an Abbey Road deluxe edition has been confirmed for release on September 27th.

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