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The John Lennon Series
by Jude Southerland Kessler

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The Sgt. Pepper's Album

Although most of the next two weeks would be taken up by recording the two songs for their next single, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, recording for Sgt. Pepper's started on December 8, 1966 with take one of When I'm Sixty-Four. The last track recorded was violins and cellos for Within You Without You on April 3, 1967, and mixing was completed April 20. Almost as an afterthought, the sounds for the Sgt. Pepper's ending groove were recorded the next day.

The original working title of A Day In The Life was "In The Life Of..." A rare session outside of Abbey Road occurred during the time of the Sgt. Pepper sessions at Regent Sound Studio in London for part of Fixing A Hole on February 9, 1967. Also during this period, the long-lost avante-garde Beatles recording called Carnival of Light was recorded on January 5, 1967.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was officially released in both mono and stereo on June 1, 1967, although it was rush released in the UK on May 26. It was actually played on the radio in Britain on the BBC show Where It's At, the week before on May 20, except for A Day In The Life, which had been banned by the BBC the day earlier, on the grounds that it could encourage a permissive attitude towards drugs.

Peter Blake's original sketch
for the Sgt. Pepper's Cover

The cover of Sgt. Pepper's was designed by Peter Blake and put together by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, who painstakingly combed through hundreds of photos for months before the photo shoot. The photo was taken by Michael Cooper at Chelsea Manor Photographic Studios on March 30, 1967.

Click here to see larger version
Behind the scenes at the Sgt. Pepper's Cover Photo Shoot

Many of the people pictured in the cover were personal heroes of the Beatles or people they admired.

Who's Who

1. Sri Yukteswar (Indian Guru)
2. Aleister Crowley (black magician)
3. Mae West
4. Lenny Bruce
5. Stockhausen (modern German composer)
6. W.C. Fields
7. Carl Jung (psychologist)
8. Edgar Allen Poe
9. Fred Astaire
10. Merkin (American artist)
12. Huntz Hall (Bowery Boy)
13. Simon Rodia (creater of Watts Towers)
14. Bob Dylan
15. Aubrey Beardsly (Victorian artist)
16. Sir Robert Peel (Police pioneer)
17. Aldous Huxley (philosopher)
18. Dylan Thomas (Welsh poet)
19. Terry Southern (author)
20. Dion (American pop singer)
21. Tony Curtis
22. Wallace Berman (Los Angeles artist)
23. Tommy Handley (wartime comedian)
24. Marilyn Monroe
25. William Buroughs (author)
26. Mahavatar Babaji (Indian Guru)
27. Stan Laurel
28. Richard Lindner (New York artist)
      29. Oliver Hardy
30. Karl Marx
31. H.G. Wells
32. Paramhansa Yogananda (Indian Guru)
33. Stuart Sutcliffe
35. Max Muller
37. Marlon Brando
38. Tom Mix (cowboy film star)
39. Oscar Wilde
40. Tyrone Power
41. Larry Bell (modern painter)
42. Dr. Livingstone
43. Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan)
44. Stephen Crane (American writer)
45. Issy Bonn (comedian)
46. George Bernard Shaw
47. Albert Stubbins (Liverpool footballer)
49. Lahiri Mahasaya (Indian Guru)
50. Lewis Carol
51. Sonny Liston (boxer)
52 - 55. The Beatles (in wax)
57. Marlene Dietrich
58. Diana Dors
59. Shirley Temple
60. Bobby Breen (singing prodigy)
61. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

Missing In Action

Several people who were intended to be included on the cover never made it, including Elvis, Hitler and Jesus.

In addition, two people who were included were later removed by photographic retouching.


In these pics from alternate shots of the cover photo, you can still see Leo Gorcey, who was removed because he requested a fee, next to his fellow Bowery Boy pal Huntz Hal, and Ghandi, who was removed because EMI felt his inclusion might offend record buyers in India.

Album Variations

Because of the way 8-Tracks cartridges worked, they had to contain 4 segments of similar length. When they were released on 8-Tracks, most LPs had to have their song order scrambled so that the songs fit properly on four programs.

However, when Capitol made the 8-Track of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, not only did they change the track order, but they actually edited a song to be longer so that it would fill up one program.

   Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Capitol 8XT-2653

Program 1
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
A Little Help From My Friends (sic)
Fixing A Hole
Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite

Program 2
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
She's Leaving Home

Program 3
Within You Without You
A Day In The Life

Program 4
When I'm Sixty-Four
Lovely Rita
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

On the Capitol Sgt. Pepper's 8-Track, about ten seconds of the ending of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) was edited back onto the end of the track. The Capitol 8-Track is the only place this strange edited version appears.

For those of you who haven't heard this since you sold your '66 Chevy, or for those of you who weren't even born when 8-Tracks were popular, here is a soundclip of the edited version copied from an actual Capitol Sgt. Pepper's 8-Track.

         Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
(Edited Capitol 8-Track Version)

Silly Censorship

In another Sgt. Pepper's related oddity, the official version of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP made by EMI in South East Asia/Malaysia/Hong Kong was censored of three songs that apparently could have possibly been interpreted as being "drug related".

The songs that were removed were With A Little Help From My Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and A Day In The Life. They were replaced on the album with three songs from the Magical Mystery Tour album; The Fool On The Hill, Baby You're A Rich Man and I'm The Walrus (sic).

In addition, making this record a double oddity, the reverse cover of this album, seen above, did not contain the lyrics to the songs normally found on the back of the Sgt. Pepper's album (probably because it wasn't possible for them to redo all the lyrics including the new songs and without the removed songs). Instead it features the same picture as the normal reverse cover, but without lyrics printed over it, probably the only place this picture was ever seen this way.

In 1977, Korea issued its own strange version of Sgt. Pepper's, the front cover of which is shown below, having been removed of all of the famous people that graced the original cover.

Like the Malaysian version, this release also was censored of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and A Day In The Life. The blank space in the last column of its rear cover, shown below, and the different picture of the beatles required by the resetting of the type on top of them, are the byproducts of the missing songs.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

The very distinctive Sgt. Pepper's cover has been copied several times.

In 1968, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released an album called We're Only In It For The Money, a comment on the pretensions of the late sixties hippie movement.

This first parody of the Sgt. Pepper's cover ran into legal trouble, however, and these takeoffs on Sgt. Pepper's front and back cover were included in Zappa's album as the inside of the foldout cover instead.

Japanese artist Jun Fukamachi released a now very rare electronic version of Sgt. Pepper's in 1977 on Japan's EMI Toshiba label. The cover is a reproduction of the original Sgt. Pepper's photo, except everyone is facing backwards, and the writing is mirror-image.

The Warner Bros. LP of the music from the much beloved Beatles parody The Rutles came with a booklet that included a wonderful parody of many of the Beatles covers, including as shown below, the cover of Sgt. Pepper's, or as it was known in the Rutles' story, Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band.

Over the years, the very popular animated TV show The Simpsons has included many references to the Beatles.

The title sequence of every episode of The Simpsons ends slightly differently, these are called "the couch gags" because the Simpson family ends up sitting down on the couch in front of the TV in a different way. However, one special "couch gag" didn't end on a couch at all, instead they all gathered in a recreation of the Sgt. Pepper cover to a sustained chord reminiscent of the end of A Day In The Life.

Also, the cover of The Yellow Album, the second collection of music from The Simpsons, released on Geffen records, is another homage to the Sgt. Pepper's cover.

In both of these Simpsons Sgt. Pepper's parodies, all of the people in the background are the residents of the Simpsons' town, Springfield.

Historical data from the books The Beatles Recording Sessions and The Complete Beatles Chronicles, both by Mark Lewisohn, and The Beatles Forever by Nicholas Schaffner. Thanks to Elliot Christ for the Zappa covers.

Indian Guru info on Sgt. Pepper's Who's Who thanks to John Calderbank and Damon Leigh.

This page last updated September 28, 2008.

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