It was June 2nd, a week later than in Britain, when the Beatles released :”Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” in 1967.
It’s still the greatest and most influential album of all time, and the best complete Beatles album.
Plenty has been written by “Sgt. Pepper” and you think you probably know it all. But listen to it again. It’s as fresh, winning, and remarkable as ever.
Recently there was a lot of press about “Revolver” when it was re-released in a spiffy, updated version. Ye, “Revolver” was revolutionary. But “Pepper” was way beyond compare. It ushered in the Beatles’ unparalleled final, sophisticated “adult” chapter that would include The White Album, Abbey Road, Let it Be, “Hey Jude,” “Revolution,” and all the other adjunct pieces like “Yellow Submarine” and “Magical Mystery Tour.” This all occurred in a three year period! And “Sgt. Pepper” was the gateway.
There were no singles from “Sgt. Pepper,” but many of its songs lifted off into their own iconic worlds. “With a Little Help from My Friends” took on its own life thanks to Joe Cocker. Elton John has a massive hit 7 years later with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” “A Day in the Life” has gone to become the Beatles’ unofficial masterpiece (and listen to it, it gets better and deeper with every spin).
I have other favorite moments. Ringo’s drums on “Lovely Rita,” for one, and also what he does on “A Day in the Life” is sublime. The punk rock stylings of “Good Morning Good Morning” and the album closing refrain of the title track. “She’s Leaving Home,” which led to McCartney’s “Another Day.” The sing-a-longs of “Getting Better” and “When I’m Sixty Four.” (Vera, Chuck and Dave were made memorable names.)
Billy Shears lives on! “Sgt. Pepper” is our equivalent of Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart. Nothing has ever surpassed it. Happy birthday!