50 years ago, in June 1967, the Beatles released a concept album, before the term was ever used of course, but that's what it was. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was their way of distancing themselves from Beatlemania.
As history shows, it was Paul McCartney's idea that the Beatles present themselves as some kind of vaudeville act, as a means of releasing new material that would reflect their new songwriting and recording innovations.
The first release of this new era was the double A-side single of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, which was previewed on TV's Juke Box Jury in February 1967. I can remember seeing the show and, on first listen, being rather baffled by SFF. It really was unlike anything they, or anyone, had done before. I don't remember whether it was voted a Hit or a Miss, but you could understand if the panel of judges were unsure what to make of it.
Penny Lane was a different matter of course, being a much more traditional song with a strong melody and a jaunty rhythm.
Which led us into the anticipation for the new Beatles album, unveiled on June 1, a Thursday. Was anybody really fooled by this masquerade of the Beatles pretending to be someone else? Well, to judge from EMI's advertising, they must have been worried that people were confused about the band's identity. Otherwise they wouldn't have felt the need to remind people who was behind the album.
"Remember - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is The Beatles"
oh thanks, I was wondering who it was...
|My vintage 1967 mono copy of Sgt Pepper, with insert cut-outs and inner sleeve|
And consider this: When Sgt Pepper was released on 1st June 1967 (their 8th album) Paul McCartney and George Harrison were still only 24 years old.
For the back story to the making of Sgt Pepper, you could do worse than visit this page:
And of course, this week sees release of the 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. We hope you will enjoy the show...