Parade Magazine reports:
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ completion of Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a tour de force that elevated the rock album
to art form and taught generations of bands to play.
The 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s were conceived in a magical span of 700 hours
over five months. The Beatles began recording on Dec. 6, 1966, and finished
the album on April 21, 1967, when they created the final track, an avant-garde
seconds-long pastiche of sounds—including a high-pitched tone inaudible to
humans put there solely to annoy your dog—that was later dubbed “Inner
Groove” for its bizarre placement within the concentric circles of the LP.
“When Sgt. Pepper's came out, it was an album that surprised people on every
single level,” says Mark Lewisohn, author of The Complete Beatles Recording
Sessions. “The vast majority of the millions who bought it had never seen a
gatefold sleeve, they’d never seen lyrics on the cover, they’d never seen a
cover like that—a real piece of art—and they never heard music like this. The
combination was so dynamic that it’s still being talked about 40 years later.”
Lewisohn wrote the booklet for Sgt. Pepper’s CD release and is currently
writing a three-volume biography of the Beatles, to be completed by 2016.
“Sgt. Pepper's was the last time there was a real collective sense of purpose
among the Beatles that they all wanted to achieve something very special,”
Lewisohn says. “After that there began to be other agendas in the way they
functioned. And by the summer of ’69, they were splintered.”
Sgt. Pepper’s won four Grammy Awards in 1967, including Album of the Year and
Best Album Cover. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 1 of the 500 Greatest
Albums of All Time.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll
album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover
art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time.
From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral
seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the
thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the
Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George
Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit
of magic and transcendence.
Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is also rock's ultimate declaration of change.
For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and
assembly-line record-making. "We were fed up with being Beatles," McCartney said
decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles' McCartney biography. "We
were not boys, we were men . . . artists rather than performers."
At the same time, Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of
hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967's Summer
of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping
packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia
and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric
guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had
such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world's biggest rock
band at the very height of its influence and ambition.
Yet Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the Number One album of the RS
500 not just because of its firsts -- it is simply the best of everything the
Beatles ever did as musicians, pioneers and pop stars, all in one place. A 1967
British print ad for the album declared, "Remember Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band Is the Beatles." As McCartney put it, the album was "just us doing a
The show goes on forever.