The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was an absolute smash when it hit shelves in 1967. Here are 10 things fans might now know about it.
It’s regarded as one of the most influential rock and roll albums of all time, the zeitgeist of the hippie counterculture, and perhaps the most popular album of the Beatles’ career. Containing beloved hits such as “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four, and the experimental “A Day in the Life,” Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was an absolute smash when it hit shelves in 1967.
But behind the colorful album cover, psychedelic imagery, and synthesized songs, a wealth of curiosities lies amidst the lyrics of Lennon and McCartney. Take a look at these ten facts behind the iconic album.
It Was Done Entirely in the Studio
Tired of the touring life, the band decided to create a concept album completely and totally done at the Abbey Road Studio, a first in the Beatles career. The result of (reportedly) 700 hours of work was a psychedelic masterpiece that would be their eighth album featured in their discography. All 13 tracks were written, scored, and recorded in the studio, resulting in more creative freedom for the band.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is an Alter Ego
Aside from a colorful band on the album’s artwork, just who exactly is Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? According to Paul McCartney, the idea was to create something separate from The Beatles themselves.
“We need to get away from ourselves… How bout if we just become sort of an alter-ego band?” And so they did, in the form of their colorful psychedelic personas in the concept album.
It Was One of the First-Ever Concept Albums
Sgt Pepper is perhaps the album most responsible for the invention of the concept album, being a selection of music that tells a coherent idea or message. The album features essentially a psychedelic version of an Edwardian military band fused with a medley of different sounds and instrumentations. The album covers everything from symphonic rock to Indian sitar ballads, to even circus music, resulting in a hybrid of sounds.
There Are 58 Different People and Characters Featured on the Cover
If there’s one thing the album is most recognized for, it’s the cover art. Along with the Beatles in their bandleader outfits, there are various props, statues, and cutouts of famous celebrities and characters that festoon the garden on the front of the album.
Such figures include the likes of W.C. Fields, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, and Bob Dylan just to name a few. This strange congregation of celebrities and other personae helped create one of the most iconic covers the music world has ever known.
It Allowed Them To Experiment In Styles
Without the limitations of roadshows, John, Paul, George, and Ringo were allowed to break away from the contemporary setting of the rock scene. Guitar and rhythm combos were a dime a dozen, and while they weren’t the first band to experiment and expand with their musical styles, they were certainly pioneers of the era. Guitars and snares gave way to overdrive riffs and mellotrons, and a new phase in the Beatles’ career was born.
And Other Substances…
Of course, like many artists in the sixties, sitars and mellotrons weren’t the only things they experimented with. And this album, in particular, was heavily inspired by the recreational use of less-than-legal substances, specifically LSD.
Although “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” might have inspired a certain urban legend, the reality was no-less accurate.
It Marked a Change In Character for the Group
One of the most notable changes during this episode of the Beatles career was the identity of the Beatles themselves. The group had gone from four loveable lads from Liverpool to the titular Lonely Hearts Club Band. In doing so, they became the spokesmen for the age of the hippie movement with trippy sounds, colorful artwork, and songs of peace and love.
Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane Were Dropped From It
Before they were featured on their own single and later Magical Mystery Tour, the songs “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” were originally considered part of the final product before being cut by the band.
However, the Beatles’ music producer, George Martin, believed their removal to be a tragedy. At least they found life on their own.
It Was a Number One Album All Over The World
To say the album was a success would be a total understatement. Not only was it top of the charts in both the UK and the USA, but Sgt. Pepper saw worldwide acclaim after its release. Reaching countries around the planet, it soon became the best-selling album in their career, selling over 32 million units since it first hit shelves. Truly, it was a force to be reckoned with.
There Was Even A Film Inspired By It
Though it wasn’t exactly what one would call the perfect Beatles flick, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a rock musical with a veritable who’s who of the ’70s. Featuring the musical talents of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees in the leads, along with artists like Alice Cooper, Steve Martin, Earth Wind and Fire, and Starguard, its hard to say the flick isn’t entertaining.