June 2, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 91: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ~ "It was fifty years ago today . . . . "

. . . when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on June 2, 1967, in the United States!

"A day in the life . . ."

Each and every song on the album is a gem but my favorite is, A Day In the Life. I'll never forget the night I heard this song. I had dropped a cube earlier in the evening when it came on . . . the song and the cube.


To me this is one of the great songs of all-time. The lyrics (link below), emotional intensity, surreal effects, musical constructions and variations are sublime . . . no, they are spectacular!  

To say nothing of the innuendos! Concerns that some of the lyrics in Sgt. Pepper refer to recreational drug use led to the BBC banning several songs from British radio, such as A Day in the Life because of the phrase "I'd love to turn you on", with the BBC claiming that it could "encourage a permissive attitude towards drug-taking." Although Lennon and McCartney denied any drug-related interpretation of the song at the time, McCartney later suggested that the line was deliberately written to ambiguously refer to either illicit drugs or sexual activity. The meaning of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds became the subject of speculation, as many believed that the song's title was code for the hallucinogenic drug LSD. The BBC banned the track on those grounds. They also banned Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! because of the lyric, which mentions "Henry the Horse", a phrase that contains two common slang terms for heroin. Fans speculated that Henry the Horse was a drug dealer and "Fixing a Hole" was a reference to heroin use. Others noted lyrics such as "I get high" from With a Little Help from My Friends, "take some tea" – slang for cannabis use – from Lovely Rita and "digging the weeds" from When I'm Sixty-Four.        

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP gatefold album
photos by Michael Cooper
photo of album by Styrous®

Sgt. Pepper's album cover was designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth from an ink drawing by Paul McCartney. It was art-directed by Robert Fraser and photographed by Michael Cooper who also created the cover lenticular for the Rolling Stones 1967 LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The cover photo, depicting the Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.    

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP front cover above left, back cover below right 
photos by Michael Cooper
photos of album by Styrous®


The March 30, 1967, photo session with Cooper produced the back cover and the inside gatefold, which the musicologist Ian Inglis describes as conveying "an obvious and immediate warmth ... which distances it from the sterility and artifice typical of such images". McCartney explained: "One of the things we were very much into in those days was eye messages ... So with Michael Cooper's inside photo, we all said, 'Now look into this camera and really say I love you! Really try and feel love; really give love through this! It'll come out; it'll show; it's an attitude.' And that's what that is, if you look at it you'll see the big effort from the eyes. In 1973, Cooper committed suicide, caught in a spiral of depression and heroin addiction.   

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP gatefold album interior
   photo by Michael Cooper
photo of album interior by Styrous®

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2 June 1967 in the United States, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture.         

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP back cover detail above left, back cover detail below right 
photo by Michael Cooper
detail photos of album by Styrous®

In November 1966, during a return flight to London from Kenya, where he had been on holiday with Beatles tour manager, Mal Evans, McCartney had an idea for a song that eventually formed the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. His idea involved an Edwardian-era military band, for which Evans invented a name in the style of contemporary San Francisco based groups such as Big Brother and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service. In February of 1967, McCartney suggested that the Beatles should record an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. He explained: "I thought, let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos."     

"Sergeant Pepper" itself didn't appear until halfway through making the album. It was Paul's song, just an ordinary rock number ... but when we had finished it, Paul said, "Why don't we make the album as though the Pepper band really existed, as though Sergeant Pepper was making the record? We'll dub in effects and things." I loved the idea, and from that moment on it was as though Pepper had a life of its own.  - Mal Evans

The front of the LP included a colourful collage featuring the Beatles in costume as the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, standing with a group of life-sized cardboard cut-outs of famous people. Right next to the Beatles are wax sculptures of the bandmembers in their suits and moptop haircuts from the Beatlemania era, borrowed from Madame Tussauds.    

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP front cover detail
photo by Michael Cooper
detail photo of album by Styrous®

The cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles' 1967 album, has become one of the most recognisable record sleeves in history. Created by Peter Blake, reportedly for a paltry £200 (he made more money by selling his Marlene Dietrich cut-out several years later). The Telegraph identifies all the people pictured on the cover (link Below).

vinyl LP page cutouts detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In 1968, rumours began to circulate that the group had decided to break up. Harrison informed their manager, Brian Epstein, that he was leaving the band, but was persuaded to stay on the assurance that there would be no more tours. The group took a three-month break, during which they focused on individual interests. Harrison travelled to India for six weeks to study the sitar under the instruction of Ravi Shankar and develop his interest in Hindu philosophy. Having been the last of the Beatles to concede that their live performances had become futile, McCartney collaborated with Beatles producer George Martin on the soundtrack for the film The Family Way. Lennon acted in the film How I Won the War and attended art showings, such as one at the Indica Gallery where he met his future wife Yoko Ono. Ringo Starr used the break to spend time with his wife Maureen and son Zak.  

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP page cutouts detail

detail photo by Styrous®

According to Barry Miles, Lennon resented McCartney's direction of the band as well as how, aside from Strawberry Fields Forever, he himself was now supplying "songs to order" rather than "writing from the heart" as he had on Revolver. Everett describes Starr as having been "largely bored" during the sessions, with the drummer later lamenting: "The biggest memory I have of Sgt. Pepper ... is I learned to play chess". Speaking in 2000, Harrison said he had little interest in McCartney's concept of a fictitious group and that, after his experiences in India, "my heart was still out there … I was losing interest in being 'fab' at that point." Harrison added that, having enjoyed recording Rubber Soul and Revolver, he disliked how the group's approach on Sgt. Pepper became "an assembly process" whereby, "A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren't allowed to play as a band as much."         

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP record sleeve
photo by Styrous®

The author Sheila Whiteley attributes Sgt. Pepper's underlying philosophy not only to the drug culture, but also to metaphysics and the non-violent approach of the flower power movement. The musicologist Oliver Julien views the album as an embodiment of "the social, the musical, and more generally, the cultural changes of the 1960s". The American psychologist and counterculture figure Timothy Leary contends that the LP "gave a voice to the feeling that the old ways were over ... it came along at the right time" and stressed the need for cultural change based on a peaceful agenda. The album's primary value, according to Moore, is its ability to "capture, more vividly than almost anything contemporaneous, its own time and place". Whiteley agrees, crediting the album with "provid[ing] a historical snapshot of England during the run-up to the Summer of Love". Several scholars have applied a hermeneutic strategy to their analysis of Sgt. Pepper's lyrics, identifying loss of innocence and the dangers of overindulgence in fantasies or illusions as the most prominent themes.     

vinyl LP page cutouts detail
detail photo by Styrous®


In 1966, Brian Wilson's admiration for the Wall of Sound by record producer Phil Spector and the album Rubber Soul resulted in the Pet Sounds LP by the Beach Boys. The author Thomas MacFarlane credits the release with influencing many musicians of the time, with McCartney in particular singing its praises and drawing inspiration to "expand the focus of the Beatles' work with sounds and textures not usually associated with popular music". McCartney thought that his constant playing of the album made it difficult for Lennon to "escape the influence", adding: "It's very cleverly done ... so we were inspired by it and nicked a few ideas." Martin stated: "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened ... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."

Freak Out! by the Mothers of Invention has also been cited as having influenced Sgt. Pepper. According to the author Philip Norman, during the Sgt. Pepper recording sessions McCartney repeatedly stated: "This is our Freak Out!" The music journalist Chet Flippo states that McCartney was inspired to record a concept album after hearing Freak Out!, considered the first rock concept album.       

Sgt. Pepper is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the use of extended form in popular music while continuing the artistic maturation seen on the Beatles' preceding releases. It has been described as one of the first art rock LPs, aiding the development of progressive rock, and credited with marking the beginning of the Album Era. An important work of British psychedelia, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music.     

vinyl LP record sleeve
photo by Styrous®

The album included a page with images of Sgt. Pepper, his mustache, badge and insignias and the Beatles that could be cut out. The page also could be stood up.   

vinyl LP page cutouts
photo by Styrous®

the Beatles ~ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
vinyl LP page cutouts detail

detail photo by Styrous®

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band spent 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.      

In 2003, the Library of Congress placed Sgt. Pepper in the National Recording Registry, honouring the work as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". As of 2011, it has sold more than 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history. Professor Kevin J. Dettmar, writing in the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, described it as "the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded".    

vinyl LP, side 1
photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP, label detail, side 1
detail photo by Styrous®

The innovative recording of the album by producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos.   

vinyl LP, side 2
photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP, label detail, side 2
detail photo by Styrous®


Side 1:

A1     Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band     1:59
A2     With A Little Help From My Friends     2:46
A3     Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds     3:25
A4     Getting Better     2:47
A5     Fixing A Hole     2:33
A6     She's Leaving Home     3:24
A7     Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite     2:36

Side 2:

B1     Within You Without You     6:03
B2     When I'm Sixty-Four     2:38
B3     Lovely Rita     2:43
B4     Good Morning Good Morning     2:35
B5     Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)     1:20
B6     A Day In The Life     5:03

Companies, etc.

    Copyright (c) – Northern Songs Ltd.
    Manufactured By – Capitol Records, Inc.
    Pressed By – Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Jacksonville


    Cover – M C Productions, The Apple
    Cover [Staged By] – Jann Haworth, Peter Blake (4)
    Design, Artwork, Graphics – Peter Blake (4)
    Design, Assemblage – Jann Haworth
    Other [Wax Figurines] – Madame Tussauds
    Photography By – Michael Cooper (8)
    Producer – George Martin
    Written-By – George Harrison (tracks: B1), Lennon-McCartney (tracks: A1 to A7, B2 to B6)


This version has title printed on one line on the A-SIde and two lines on the B-Side
'thick' fonts on labels.
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Rights Society: BMI
    Matrix / Runout (A-Side Label): SMAS-X-1-2653
    Matrix / Runout (B-Side Label): SMAS-X-2-2653
    Matrix / Runout (A-Side Runout Etching): 0 SMAS1-2653-B16
    Matrix / Runout (B-Side Runout Etching): 0 SMAS2 2653 A15#2

The Beatles ‎– Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Label: Capitol Records ‎– SMAS 2653, Capitol Records ‎– SMAS-2653, Capitol Records ‎– 2653
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Country: US
Released: 1967
Genre: Rock, Pop
Style: Pop Rock, Psychedelic Rock


According to Mark Lewisohn and Ian MacDonald:
The Beatles
  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm, acoustic and lead guitars; Hammond organ and final piano E chord; harmonica, tape loops, sound effects, and comb and tissue paper; handclaps, tambourine and maracas
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and background vocals; bass and lead guitars; electric and acoustic pianos, Lowrey and Hammond organs; handclaps; vocalisations, tape loops, sound effects, and comb and tissue paper
  • George Harrison – harmony and background vocals; lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; sitar; tamboura; harmonica and kazoo; handclaps and maracas; lead vocals on "Within You Without You"
  • Ringo Starr – drums, congas, tambourine, maracas, handclaps and tubular bells; lead vocals on "With a Little Help from My Friends"; harmonica; final piano E chord
Additional musicians and production:
  • Sounds Incorporated – the saxophone sextet on "Good Morning, Good Morning"
  • Neil Aspinall – tamboura and harmonica
  • Geoff Emerickaudio engineering; tape loops and sound effects
  • Mal Evans – counting, harmonica, alarm clock and final piano E chord
  • George Martin – producer and mixer; tape loops and sound effects; harpsichord on "Fixing a Hole", harmonium, Lowrey organ and glockenspiel on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", Hammond organ on "With a Little Help from My Friends", and piano on "Getting Better" and the piano solo in "Lovely Rita"; final harmonium chord.
  • Session musicians – four French horns on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band": Neill Sanders, James W. Buck, John Burden, Tony Randall, arranged and conducted by Martin and McCartney; string section and harp on "She's Leaving Home", arranged by Mike Leander and conducted by Martin; tabla, dilrubas, tamboura and swarmandal on "Within You Without You", played by members of the Asian Music Circle, with eight violins and four cellos arranged and conducted by Harrison and Martin; clarinet trio on "When I'm Sixty-Four": Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy, arranged and conducted by Martin and McCartney; saxophones on "Good Morning, Good Morning", arranged and conducted by Martin and Lennon; and forty-piece orchestra, including strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion on "A Day in the Life", arranged by Martin, Lennon and McCartney and conducted by Martin and McCartney.          

Net links:
A Day in the Life lyrics         
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club technical details             
The Telegraph - all the people pictured on the cover          
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Official Site       
New York Times ~ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ at 50: Still Full of Joy and Whimsy      
Time Magazine ~ How The Beatles Made Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Work    
LA Times ~ 50th anniversary trip through 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'           
USA Today ~ 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' turns 50           

A Day In the Life on YouTube      


vinyl LP page cutouts detail
detail photo by Styrous®

I went into a dream!

Styrous® ~ Friday, June 2, 2017 

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