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Sgt. Pepper’s: 50 years later

How America’s favorite mop tops made the soundtrack for 1967’s “Summer of Love.”

SGT.+PEPPER+TAUGHT+THE+BAND%3A+The+Beatles+final+and+most+iconic+album+turns+50+this+year.+The+original+vinyl+album+cover+is+shown+above.
SGT. PEPPER TAUGHT THE BAND: The Beatles final and most iconic album turns 50 this year. The original vinyl album cover is shown above.

SGT. PEPPER TAUGHT THE BAND: The Beatles final and most iconic album turns 50 this year. The original vinyl album cover is shown above.

Photo by Helmut Berger

Photo by Helmut Berger

SGT. PEPPER TAUGHT THE BAND: The Beatles final and most iconic album turns 50 this year. The original vinyl album cover is shown above.

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Arguably the most iconic music group ever, The Beatles were on top of the world throughout the early to mid 1960’s. They were teenage heart throbs the minute they appeared on Ed Sullivan in 1964. Yet only three years later, they embraced the drug culture, grew mustaches, and significantly matured past their once teenage audience.

“We’re more popular than Jesus now,” quipped Lennon in 1966. They say celebrities can get away with anything – not quite. The remark sparked a nationwide outrage and caused multiple riots consisting of fans burning Beatles memorabilia: shirts, photographs, vinyl albums, etc.

The negative reaction the band had to come to embrace the rest of the year solidified a momentous decision: no more touring. After the artistic boundaries the group pushed with 1966’s Revolver album, they were already heading in a new direction.

They liked the aspect of making an album with more technology, and effects that could not be translated to a stage. And Lennon’s remark gave them an excuse to do just that. For the next year, they reclused from the public scene, and spent their time immersed in their alter-ego group: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Everything about the album – its mystique, its lure, its bizarre album cover, are all reasons why it has been treasured by fans for fifty years.

It has gained recognition as the biggest source of inspiration for Brian Wilson’s and the Beach Boys masterpiece: Pet Sounds. The album’s most respectable feat perhaps, is being placed Number 1 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s definitive “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

Die hard fans will recall the makeshift mechanisms used by the band during the recording process for Revolver. Attempting to manifest the sound they accomplished in their later album, the band went to extremes due to a lower budget. In the process of recording several tracks, Paul McCartney was suspended from the ceiling by a rope to strain his vocal chords to attain a certain pitch.

On Sgt. Peppers, the band used two devices dubbed a “Meletron” and “Studer J37.” With the culmination of success leading up to 1967, the band had plenty of money to pioneer and embrace the new technology that made seemingly impossible feats a year or two earlier possible.

With an almost unlimited recording budget, the group pushed limits to unbelievable bounds. The band was able to encapsulate their psychedelic beliefs, (and quite often reality) and turn it into astonishing and brilliant music.

The Fab Four instantly became the spokespeople for America’s hippie movement and counterculture. The album was the essence of America’s 1967 “Summer of Love.” Even the infamous Woodstock concerts in 1969 failed to match the magnitude and mass audience that Sgt. Peppers reached.

Sgt. Pepper’s is the most daring album to have ever been released, and has reached critical acclaim and massive commercial success. It spent 15 weeks atop the U.S. charts, and 27 weeks at number one in their native country of England. In 1968, it won four Grammys, including “Album of the Year,” the first rock record to do so.

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Sgt. Pepper’s: 50 years later