A day in the life, or 50 years worth of days, Sgt. Pepper is middle-aged now, like many of us who grew up loving the Beatles. Beatles ARE Forever !
The reality that Sgt. Pepper is a half-century old is a shock to me, because it means that 50 damn years ago, I stood in line at Tower Records to buy my copy, I took it home and played it over and over and over, until I knew every tone, every note, every syllable of every lyric of the entire album. And of course I fell in love all over again. The Beatles. The defining music of my youth, my coming of age, something so many of us experienced altogether, it was like a movement unto itself.
Aptly named the Best Album in All Creation (something like that) by Rolling Stone mag, we did not need them, to tell us, the actual fans, how superb Sgt. Pepper’s truly is, anyone who did not think so was horsemeat to us. Really.
We were all doing the same things at the same time, listening to great music, smoking less than great pot and dropping acid by the bucketful. Those of us who survived the turbulent year of 1967-68 were awarded with the terrific gift of remarkable music that had literally grown up with us, from I Want to Hold Your Hand to A Day in the Life, we had evolved and emerged enlightened. And glory be, what a trip it was, I do wish kids today could experience the type of renaissance in music we all had front row seats to in the Beatle era.
The group was very tired of the mop top Beatles and basically re-created themselves by way of this remarkable musical achievement, which had been inspired somewhat by the Beach Boys, “Pet Sounds.” Paul was a major fan.
John said, “Sgt Pepper is one of the most important steps in our career. It had to be just right,” stated Lennon in 1967. Ringo recalls, “’Sgt. Pepper’ was our grandest endeavor. It gave everybody – including me – a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material…The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn’t matter who), that would be the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive. Always the best was used…Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding.” To me it sounds like pure, creative genius at work.
Recording began on November 24th, 1966 and stretched all the way till April 21st, 1967, totaling approximately 700 hours. This was a giant departure from the 9 hour and 45 minute single session on February 11th, 1963 to record ten of the fourteen tracks for their first album, Meet the Beatles, which was my first true love of my music life.
The release date was June 2, 1967, and actually changed recording and music history in a really wonderful way. Sgt. Pepper set the stage for music to become art and it surely has, from the concept of a collage album cover to a collage of musical delights, Sgt. Pepper still thrills the listener today, in fact I am listening right now. Thank you Sgt. Pepper, and Happy 50th Anniversary, thanks for the memories and for all you have done to bring joy and pleasure to all of us who love the group!
Sgt. Pepper Forever!