In 1966, Beatlemania was in full swing. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were internationally adored for their contributions to music, and they felt the weight of that adoration immensely. Together they had set records for concert attendance and income, and ultimately had to travel by armored car to ensure their safety while on their way to different destinations.
This popularity was wearing the quartet down and they retired from touring in August 1966. Despite their withdrawal from the spotlight, the Beatles still wanted to make music. So, escaping into the studio, the Beatles created sergeant. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1966 and 1967.
sergeant. Pepper is psychedelic and bizarre. But this theme is evident from the outset. Right from the album cover, you can tell this record is something different. Keep reading to find out the story behind this album cover.
What is the story behind the album cover?
If you think the sergeant. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover is a bit overwhelming, you are not alone. The good thing is, however, that we’re here to break it down for you.
Pop artists Jann Haworth and Peter Blake designed the album cover. (Fun fact: Haworth and Blake were married when they were working on the album cover.)
“I suggested they just played a gig in the park,” Blake said of the album cover documented by author Spencer Leigh. “They were posing for a photo and the crowd behind them was a crowd of fans who had attended the concert. After deciding that, then, by making cutouts, the fans could be anyone, dead or alive, real or fictional If we wanted Hansel and Gretel, I could paint them and they could be photographed and enlarged.
“I asked the four Beatles for a list and made one myself. Robert Fraser made a list and I can’t remember if Brian Epstein made one or not. The way it turned out was fascinating. John gave me a list and so did Paul. George only suggested Indian gurus, about six of them, and Ringo said, “Anything other people say is fine with me” and doesn’t suggested no one. This is a preview of their characters. All sorts of people have been suggested. Hitler was there; he’s actually in the setup, but he’s covered by the Beatles themselves as we felt he was too controversial. The same applied to Jesus. There were only two of their contemporaries on the cover. Bob Dylan was suggested by John and I put Dion because he is one of my great favourites.
Who’s on the album cover?
There are dozens of people depicted on the album cover. More than 50 images and wax figures of celebrities and notables are present, including the four Beatles. There are writers, musicians, actors, comedians, and political and religious figures.
Specifically, you might recognize WC Fields, Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, Aldous Huxley, Marilyn Monroe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, Shirley Temple, Albert Einstein and James Joyce on the cover.
There are also several notable accessories on the cover of sergeant. Pepper. There is a hookah pipe, a figure of Snow White, a baritone horn, an idol of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, and other items. It really is a Where’s Waldo from the 60s.
Who is Sergeant Pepper?
There have been several theories as to who exactly Sgt. Pepper is… is he real? Is it fictional? Authority on the subject, Paul McCartney, explained who the character is in an interview with the author Barry Miles.
“Me and Evil [Evans, the Beatles’ road manager, and personal assistant] words oft-joked about it, which led to the rumor that he was thinking of the name Sergeant Pepper,” McCartney explained.
“But I think it would be much more likely to be me saying, ‘Think about the names.’ We were eating and they had these little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P’. Mal said, ‘What does that mean? Oh, salt and pepper. We had a joke about it So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper’, just for variation, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper’, an auditory pun, without hearing it badly but just playing with the words.
McCartney then added “Lonely Hearts Club” to the end of the album title, “because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band?”