Friday, June 01, 2007
When they was fab
The New York Times panned it.

"Like an over-attended child 'Sergeant Pepper' is spoiled," wrote Richard Goldstein in a June 18, 1967, review (subscription required). "It reeks of horns and harps, harmonica quartets, assorted animal noises and a 41-piece orchestra."

Liking it has been unfashionable. A 2000 poll of 200,000 ever-fickle British record buyers, enthusiasts and journalists picked "Revolver" as the best album of all time; "Sgt. Pepper" was No. 3, behind Radiohead's "The Bends."

But like it or not, rank it behind "Revolver" or "Abbey Road" (or "Blonde on Blonde," or "Exile on Main Street," or "Nevermind"), insist that it's overrated, underwhelming or unrepresentative -- there it is, the Everest of albums: the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," released 40 years ago today, June 1, 1967.

Happy anniversary, "Sergeant." It's certainly a thrill.
As a high-schooler in Milwaukee, I bugged out of school one warm, sunny day back in June '67 and made my way downtown to Radio Doctors record store to purchase the just-released Pepper LP. Anxious to listen to it, but unable to show up at home instead of being at school where I belonged, I tromped about the east side, and lazed in the sun on the lakeshore. There, at Bradford Beach, I heard the first strains of the album on a stranger's transistor radio. What a perfect combination of place, time and circumstance! The voices, the instrumentation, the melodies, the words ... at that moment I knew this was something altogether different, new, without peer. Maybe I was just impressionable; maybe my ... and countless others' ... planets were just aligned in such a way as to create an instant and unbreakable bond with this artistic work. I'll not over-analyze it. I'll just say that today, after 40 years, for me Pepper is as fresh and strong and revealing and mysterious as it was when I first listened. I encourage anyone: some fine day this month, go outside ... to the park, the lake, your own backyard ... and give it a listen front to back. Perfect.
My Pepper memory only occured about 5 years ago. I was 19 and living at the beach that summer and I had a small little cd player in my room, one I got for maybe 25 bucks at a drug store. Being a child of my generation, I didn't have any CD's--I purchase all my music online, and my computer was packed upf or the summer. All I had was an old scratched up version of Sgt. Peppers and I listened to it over and over and over again. It never got old, it's that good.
I had just finished 8th grade in a small northern Minnesota town. The Beatles were okay, but I was more into Broadway show tunes. I went into the Montgomery Wards store in Brainerd, MN - and the album caught my eye. I honestly was not sure WHOSE album it was; the cover just fascinated me. I bought it (the cheaper monoraul version!) took it home and slapped it on our non-stereo turntable. I was enchanted, and still never tire of hearing the complete work. Of course, I've moved on - now have it in digital stereo!
Seeing as I was born four years after the Beatles broke up, I obviously wasn't around to hear Sgt. Pepper the first time. A lifelong Beatles fan, I finally got around to listening to the whole album sometime in high school... and was indeed blown away. I even did a paper on how Sgt. Pepper wasn't as innovative as everyone said, for my 20th Century Music class in college - and it got published through the university's annual Undergraduate Review. Today, I will take another listen, and I'm sure I will once again be blown away.
Although the album came out in 1967, I was a bit too young to have ready access to it (my older siblings never got the album), and since there were no singles from it to hear on the radio, I'd not heard it at all. Then, on a student tour in Europe in 1970, riding on a bus from Rome to Paris, someone pulled out the cassette. So I well remember hearing it for the first time (and several more playings before the trip was over). I was surprised, for example, to learn that Joe Cocker's version of Little Help From My Friends was a cover. Of course, over time I purchased my own copy of the LP, which I still have and enjoy listening to, to this day.
While attending college in the mid 90's, like so many other of us college kids who leave home, I experienced a musical awakening due to all the new people I was meeting, and St. Peppers was a key element of that awakening. I'll never forget listening to this album the whole way was mindblowing, and it was life changing. Ten years later, it remains one of my all time favorites, and I'm sure it will remain so for the rest of my time on this planet.
Beautiful as the music was, they did glorify drug use and promiscuity. Did they make one song about honoring their wives forever? No, it was all Lucy in the sky this and I want to hold your hand that. I was four years old in 1967, living in Berkeley, CA. My parents were UC Berkeley alumni and/or students at the time. Yes, they were right to protest Vietnam. No, they were not right about drugs and free love. Adults thought nothing of skinny dipping right in front of us grade schoolers. My dad put a "since we're neighbors let's (f word)" right on the fridge (in a twisted reference to Safeway's slogan at the time.)

Gifted artists they were, but fools on the hill they were too, and anyone that believed in their empty philosophy of life were the bigger fools. Where was the honor in glorifying wasting yourself with drugs?

I enjoy their music, but I don't respect them as any kind of visionaries, for their vision was a twisted one that I'm still recovering the family from. Recovering well, by following tried and true ancient wisdom: Married almost two decades now, I have never cheated on my wife. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I make six figures and haven't noticed the gas price increases yet. My child is a straight A student, far away from the cities and their troubles with drugs. Not bad for someone who was on welfare, food stamps, and medicare while his parents tripped to the (expletive deleted) Beatles. I am a recovered child of the flower children, and anyone who cries over not perfectly preserving Sgt. Peppers needs to re-examine what is really important, and what it is they are valuing so much.
In 1967, I was a sophomore at a south Florida high school. I remember all the English classes being dragged to the gym and handed "Sgt. Pepper" lyric sheets while the album played through speakers better suited for announcing the basketball team's starting lineup. The day's lesson was "'Pepper' as poetry." The idea was revolutionary to me that Lennon-McCartney song lyrics were as poetic as anything by Sandburg or Frost.
I graduated from high school at the end of May 1967 and bought my vinyl, mono, Sgt. Pepper at a little record shop in Shelbyville, KY, on June 3, 1967 (does that tell you how wonderful it was to me--I remember the date!) The combination of summer, my graduation, prospects of a new unknown life at college, and such glorious music never before heard exhilarated this 18 year old farm girl. "She's leaving home, bye bye. . . " I just bought a new CD to celebrate the 40th anniversary and played it today on the way to work. Somebody spoke and I went into a dream. Thanks, Beatles, you're unsurpassed. xoxo
My sister had an early cassette player, and one of the cassettes that came with it on her birthday was Sgt Pepper. We carried that player around everywhere for weeks, playing that one tape over and over and ignoring the other bland tapes. "She's Leaving Home" in particular was a revelation, but the whole thing was like no other music at the time. It made us realize how thin and flat most current music was.
You just had to be there . . . it was absolutely magical. Of course, I was a 15 year old, totally in love with all of the Beatles, but I was so in awe of Sgt. Pepper. The songs were incredible and it was so easy to get lost in the album. As much as I love all of the Beatles music, I think Sgt. Pepper alone was a testament to their wonderful talent.
"Sgt Pepper" was an album like no other at the time. I remember buying it in the records section at Sears. The music and lyrics were mature (unlike most of the time) and the production polished. In addition to that, the album cover made sense too! Artistic, informative (having the words on the label wasn't new, but for a Beatles album it was!) and a perfect complement to the music.

It wasn't my all time favorite Beatles record (the White Album was). But when you compare the two, the White Album was a scruffy mix of thrown together songs, while Sgt Pepper is polished and crafted. The level of craftsmanship is what what sets this album apart from all the others. Whether by accident or by design, Sgt Pepper set the standard of what a rock music album could become.
I don't remember much of the 60's after the summer of love until I got out of law school in the 70's. By the way I still have the album....whats it's value today?
In June of 1967, I was a recent (6 months) Vietnam returnee, and a more recently (2 weeks) discharged veteran. Since my last duty station was in California, I headed straight for Haight-Ashbury--a ready-made haven for a confused and distraught vet.
While it perhaps sounds a bit pretentious, the release of "Sgt. Pepper" really did speak to the anomie and disillusionment that I, and may others--veterans or not--felt at the time. It was fantasy, prophecy and social commentary all rolled (no pun intended) into a single entity which gave a voice to what was regarded as a group of social misfits and un-American war protesters.
It was also a major turning point for the Beatles’ creativity, and in a way, intended or not, gave a modicum of legitimacy to the purpose of the counterculture, which, in turn and in time, attracted more mainstream people to the idea that maybe the moment for social and political revolution had arrived.
“Sgt. Pepper” is arguably one of the most socially influential and artistically creative musical works ever produced, and its impact is difficult to overstate.
Certainly, nothing of its scope has been produced in the forty years since its release, nor is there likely to be.
For those who weren’t around then to witness it, or for those who were and chose to ignore it, you missed something of great importance and significance.
Nobody has mentioned the pull-out section of the album. the colored pictures and the acid drop glasses. Mind blowing back then, conceptual and years later, I sold my album to a kid at a garage sale. Bad decision. I'll have to pick up the CD and get reacquainted with the songs. Too bad there will not be a pull-out section in the CD.
"Sgt. Pepper" was a fine album and I enjoyed listening to it when I was a teenager. It is not the greatest album of all time; it has its place in history, that's all.
I agree with Anonymous from Berkeley, CA. I also grew up in Berkeley and found the "free love" atmosphere overrated. There is no such thing. People who tuned in and dropped out have lived to regret it, years later, as their organs failed, their brain cells died off, and their marriages fell apart.
Let's not forget, however, that the hippie counterculture arose partly in response to the mainstream, Orwellian, fascist "establishment" that threatened to make America it is today. Every revolution has its roots.
I was 12 years old in '67 and I traded the first three or four Monkees albums to my friend Pete, who had bought Sgt. Pepper and didn't like it. I still think I got the best of the deal; it amazed me on the very first listen, and so it represented, for me, a paradigm shift in my appreciation of music, of what music was capable of achieving. As subjective as the issue may be, I'm on the side of the fence that maintains that, in many ways, it IS the most important album in the history of popular music, and whatever the future of music might have been without it, it would not be the one that actually happened.
I'll always remember the radio premiere of Sgt. Pepper in Cleveland. The DJ was very cautious about what he said. I think he knew it was great, but didn't think a bunch of mindless teens would see it clearly. He almost apologized: "Well... there are _animal_sounds_ in it..." The audience was up to the task.
Two things stick out for me:

It was the first album that I heard using earphones, where you could find yourself deep down inside the sound. Maybe it was the first album worth listening to with earphones.

"When I'm 64" had Paul's voice in one channel and almost all the rest of the music, including backup singing, on the other. That made it great to Karaoke to. I remember singing it over and over into a tape recorder to see how good I could make it.

Another good song to try is "Your Mother Should Know" from Magical Mystery Tour.
I was born one year before the Beatles broke up and didn't really start to appreciate their music until I was in my late teens. So my fondest Beatles memory comes from only a few years ago. It has actually happened numerous times, but it goes a little something like this: I was driving down the road, taking my kids to school, listening to Sgt. Pepper's and in the back seat my 7 year old and 3 year old sons are singing along with John, Paul, George and Ringo. 40 years after it was recorded, the Beatles music still appeals to the kids (and their parents and grandparents). If that isn't proof of their greatness, I don't know what is!
All the emotions are there. Love, hate, depression, joy, wonder, sarcasm, sadness, loneliness, everything; a journey I still love to take now and then even though it's 40 years old. My wife gave me a dog for my birthday a few years back. Because of her color I named her Penny. After about a month she seemed lonely so I went out and bought her sister, Lane. I love this album almost as much as my girls.
Sgt. Pepper was the first album I ever owned. I was in the sixth grade living in Bitburg, Germany were my father was stationed. My mother bought it for me. It had a Parlophone lable over there. There was a sheet of pictures inside that were ment to be cutouts. I remember studying the cover trying to fiqure out who the people were. I wore it out playing it over and over on my little portable record player. I bought the CD right after it first came out and still listen to it every once in a while.
I was 9-years-old kid hanging out with my cousin at her boyfriend's house when he put an album on the turntable. My attention was grabbed the moment the sound of an orchestra warming up came over the speakers. Within moments I began hearing the most incredible music I'd ever heard in my life.
"Who is that?" I asked excitedly.
My cousin's boyfriend (who wasn't at all excited he was having to spend time with a 9-year-old boy) responded with disinterest, "The Beatles."
"You're kidding," I said. "I don't believe it!"
You see, the last time I had been aware of The Beatles was when my babysitter brought the album "Meet The Beatles" over to the house to play while my parents were out. I wasn't impressed. It was girl stuff.
This music, however, was different. I had never heard anything like it before...and I was hooked!
A month-and-a-half later I turned 10 and was listening to my own copy of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on our home stereo.
I listened to each overlay...each individual vocal and instrument that came together to make the song a sonic delight.
From then on I bought every new Beatle album as they came out.
I even bought every solo album as they were released. (Life With the Lions? What the HELL was that all about?!?)
Eventually I went back and collected The Beatles earlier works. I still don't enjoy their pre-Help! music as much as their later stuff...but I love 'em too!
After "Sgt. Pepper," I was never the same...and neither was popular music.
This summer I turn 50-years-old and I'm still listening to "Sgt. Peppers"...except now it's on my 80-gig iPod.
the productio on this album was revolutionary, BUT some of the songs are terrible. Maxwells Silver Hammer is a pitiful joke of a song and all-told most of the album is heartless, soul-less and groove-less. The Beatles and G. Martin were clearly obsessed with the production and concept. It is a colorful, but insincere record.
I was a junior in high school in 1967 when I first listened to "Peppers". A friend brought over the LP and played it during a "social gathering" at my parents house while they were away for the weekend. I have had the vivid memory embedded for 40 years now of us "marching" throughout the house endlessly listening to this masterpiece to the early hours of the morning. There must be some mystic reason that this is the only recording I can remember first listening too, ahhh to relive that night again.
Uh, Chip, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is on "Abbey Road."
Did they make one song about honoring their wives forever?

When I'm 64 was a song about just that on the Sgt Peppers album. And the beatles were great love song writers. You are angry at your parents and projecting it on the Beatles who had zero to do with your family situation.

We're glad you make 6 figures and are happy, but to insinuate the Beatles wasted their lives in anyway is preposterous. Paul was faithful to Linda from their marraige in 1969 to when she died in the last few years. George was married to his wife from 1978 until he died. John and Yoko were married from 69 to 80 when he was killed.

Your post reminds me of the old Kris Kristofferson song,
"Blame it on the Stones,
Blame it on the Stones,
You'll feel so much better knowing you don't stand alone,
Join the accusation; save the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the stones"

There is a thing called personal responsibility, don't trash the Beatles.
This isn't my favorite Beatles album but I still get chills and when I hear "A Day in the Life". The first time I heard it(I was only 12 years old) I didn't know what to make of that song and to hear it remastered on the Beatles "LOVE" cd is mind-blowing. I have the Beatles entire album collection on vinyl and am still unable to part with them.
It was the first album that woke me up. Growing up in the 1970's, the Beatles were of a different era. Nursed by MTV, my exposure to music was limited to assymtrical hair cuts, electronic strings, and androgyns singing in to a blissful suburban summer. I entered college in the 1990's and after sitting in a Music Class Apprecaition Class at the University of Cincinnati, my professor, Simon Anderson described it as 'the album that changed music forever', whether I agreed with him at that point or not is moot. I did go out that night an purchase the album on cd. I listened to every song that evening at least 10 times. I am sure I wore a hole through it.

That night I was transferred to a simpler time. Man had not stepped foot on the moon, Pan Am was still crossing the Atlantic, Gidget was taking her last surf before heading off to college, the Summer of Love was on the horizon. Max Yasgur's place was still just a farm. That album openend me to alot that night.

Thank-you John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Thank you Simon Anderson.

You opened the eyes of a nowhere man to the colors of a strawberry field, in an octopus's garden under the sea where all you truly needed was love.

charlie kent
dayton via cincinnati, ohio.
I was born in 1976, a few years after the Beatles break-up. My father has alway drilled into me that the Beatles were the epitomy of musical genius. It didn't take long for me to recognize that for myself. My earliest memories are listening to Sgt. Peppers on the Technics turntable through the old Marantz speakers. The flowing melody of the album moved me in ways that nothing else can. The kind of effect that this particular album can have on a person is astounding. I am 31 years old. I have been a Beatles fan for all of those years. You cannot overstate their importance on music, culture, and life itself. Sgt. Peppers was the catalyst for change in a time where change was necessary. Thank you John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We have enjoyed every minute of the ride.
We were high school sophomores, and my friend's father was the general manager of the #1 radio station in town (which was AM!). We got an advance copy of the album and spent all day May 31st listening to it again and again... we were speechless. There were no gaps between tracks; it was like a persistent aural wave washing over us. We could barely snap out of it long enough to change sides after "Mr. Kite."

"Revolver" was revolutionary. And the US version of "Rubber Soul" is actually a stronger concept album. But having lived through it, you realize this: Before Sgt. Pepper we had pop music. After Sgt. Pepper we had pop culture.
My first encounter with Sgt. Pepper was probably around 6 years old. My older sister would bring the stereo LP over to our grandparents' house, as a way to keep us entertained. She would put on the record and teach me how to sing along to all the songs.

Later, at 13 and just starting to get a real music education, I dusted off that same LP and gave it a listen - WOW. What a revelation. I found in it a whole new level of craftsmanship, wonder, and yes, a moral strength. Sgt. Pepper said it was OK to be young, that there was reason to be optimistic, and that you could deconstruct old ideas and styles and build something spiritual and inspiring.
What is most amazing and wonderful is that an album with classical, rock and English vaudeville influences could become such a huge hit. I think it was the era that allowed this not just the Beatles making it. Not sure if even they could pull it off today. Much to my regret.
Todd, thanks for reminding me of the other awful Beatles album. If you're really pretentious then you love junk like Sgt. P. This album was the death knell for rock and roll. Anyone who looks at the charts today can see that R&R is a dead art form and it started with the philosophy of 'production' over writing and musicianship, ushered in by this album.
It was 1975 and in 8th grade when I met a new student of our school and we started talking about music. I was into Pop music and he was not. I thought that modern music was entertainment and he said it was a form of art. Somehow we started talking about the Beatles and the Sgt Pepper album. I was aware of the album but had not heard it as a whole. He suggested I come to his place to hear some records. When we got there he lent me the Sgt Peppers album and told me to listen it at home.
Suffice to say that after that first listening my tastes in modern music expanded exponentially and the appreciation of it as an art form was opened before my eyes. Also it set for me a very high bar to any future music listening.
This morning I played the album again, and it still amazes me.
I'm 22-years old and obviously well after the initial release date, however my first experience with Sgt. P is very vivid for me. I was nine when I discovered my father's old record player. Next to it was a stack of records and the one on top was Sgt. Pepper's. I was instantly obsessed with it. What does it say that I had such a connection at such a young age? Perhaps it's a nod to the creativity within the album or an admission of my strange childhood indulgences. Sgt. P was the first CD that I ever purchased. Chopin was the second. That should say something about my estimation of the quality of this album.
I grew up in San Francisco and lived in the Haight from 1960-75. Even though I was only 10 at the time, like the youth of today, I wanted to be hip and trendy and listen to the latest tunes. I already had been a Beatles fan then owning my precious "Beatles 65 and Revolver albums." That day Strolling down in my neighborhood, I could hear "Sgt. Pepper" piercing from various windows all the while wafting along with the music was the smell of Hashish and Pot. It was a magical and transcendent moment to stand there and hear various portions of the album coming from different directions. I didn't have enough money to buy the album that day but I eventually did get it.
Chip, nice back pedal. R&R is dead ??(I think I saw that headline once)
The commercial appeal for alot of the major labels is dead. They no longer market music for adults. What I hope is that the commercial music machine is dead, I hope the internet demolishes it so R&R can thrive again. In reality, R&R is going strong, there are multiple and huge 100,000 people festivals yearly all across the country that show rock is very alive and supported by a wide audience.
I love Sgt Pepper as a kid but I think some kudos need to be thrown the Moody Blues way. The Moody Blues had been performing what would become Days of Future Passed many months before SGT Pepper was even recorded. Days of Future passed was recorded in 11 days. IMHO it was the first true concept album.
I was 10, and thanks to a cousin who give me the Hard Day's Night album for my 7th birthday, a Beatles fan (although at the time I probably liked the Monkees more - hey – I was a kid and I'm just being honest). I remember I got both Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour on the same day, and loved them both, but it was "A Day in the Life" that I listened to over and over. Through the years I've always been more interested in hearing current music rather than wallowing the past, but a couple of months ago I heard the Fab Faux perform a note for note recreation of “A Day in the Life” on Howard Stern's show (everything performed live except for the alarm clock going off) and was blown away. Later that night I listened to Sgt. Pepper all the way through on CD (the album is still at the top of my closet but I haven’t owned a turntable for years), and was amazed how well it held up after 40 years and that I could still sing along with virtually every single lyric. I can’t think of a better test to determine “best album of all time”. Plus, “A Day in the Life” is now permanently on my “deserted island” list of songs where it should have been all along.
The enormity of the music on this album was not lost to a teenage set of ears, carefully wearing a set of headphones, and lying back
with my eyes closed. It is still a thrill some 35 years later.
I can remember well, DJ's all over the country playing the album at the same time, and I and my college roommates listening attentively as song after song made us drift away into another time and place. "A Day in the Life" is still the quintessential song of the era to me.
Thanks to the Beatles for such a great trip!
I was only 5 years old when "Sgt Pepper" was released. So by the time as a teenager I actually bought the album I already knew "Lucy in the Sky", "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "A Day in the Life". But listening to that album all the way through for the first time was an extraoridnary experience. It brought new life to the songs I was already familiar with. Like many I have at times thought "Abbey Road" or "Revolver" might be better albums. But when I stop to listen to "Sgt Pepper" in one sitting, as one solid piece of work, as it really should be, then all those feelings of awe and amazement at it come back. It is a feeling that is truly unmatched by anything else in recorded music.
I was 17 and had loved The Beatles since they arrived in the US in 1964. We poured over the album cover wanting to not miss one thing. But to me, Rubber Soul is the best Beatles' album.
I wasn't quite six-years-old yet, but I will never forget when my cousin, who is considerably older and had a standing gig as my and my siblings' babysitter, brought her record collection's newest addition with her to entertain us. With its colorful and curiously illustrated jacket, and imaginatively composed material such as Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite, the title track(s), and everything else, even a little kid like me could easily become entranced.

And I was.
It's all about creativity. What the Beatles did was change the old style of putting together an album (ten 3 minute songs). It's one thng to have imagination in creating music. It's another level to have imagination in the overall concept of a musical performance. The Beatles set the standard.
It was a first in many ways. It was the first time an orchestra was used on a rock album. It was the first time a concept was used. It was the first time sound mixing (animal and honking sounds, etc.) was used. As for the drug references, well, the times were such that all taboos were broken. If you grew up in the 1950's you'd understand why. The songs can be taken not as drug pushing but mind expanding - challenging all rigid pointless social rules. Yes, some families were ruined by drug use but that was not the fault of the Beatles, but the individual. I never ruined my life or any other's through drugs.
I remember the first time I listened to the album, I too was blown away. I was in college in 1967. Each song seemed to logically move to the next. The album seemed like one long paean to freedom, joy and love. Yes, there was sadness too; the world was very much with us - so change it. I appreciate the comment above about the generation that first heard this album (mine): "Let's not forget, however, that the hippie counterculture arose partly in response to the mainstream, Orwellian, fascist "establishment" that threatened to make America it is today. Every revolution has its roots." Well said. No album done today can ignore what it owes to this wonderful album. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band forever!
I bought the album. Went to a friends
place in Manhattan Beach. We smoked some
Mother Nature and put in on.
There was a word in the 60s that conveyed an experience. It's meaning has been mostly lost. Well the album was a trip.
Those who know the meaning, please laugh now.
I received a cassette of Sgt. Peppers for my 16th birthday from my best friend. It was amazing. I may have turned in 16 in 1992, but I developed an appreciation for the group early on. I wore that tape out, and have been waiting anxiously for iTunes and Apple Records to resolve their dispute and offer these songs to the fans.
My best friend died of brain cancer about four years ago and I sang "Fixing a Hole" at his memorial service. Since then I've followed Paul's lead and have been "taking the time for a number of things that weren't important yesterday." I don't know if it's the best album of ALL time, but it's the best of MY time.
I never listened to the album until the mid-seventies (I was a second generation Beatle fan). Music was a lot more important back then. Nowdays, the internet and video games define the current "young" generation. I can't believe its been 40 years since it was released.
Hello, I´m from El Salvador, born in 65 and I´ve got to say; I was about 12 when I heard for the first time Sgt Pepper and the first thing I remember was hearing the people´s noise at the beginning, I didn´t understand this noise, so when the music began it took me be by surprise and it was until “With a little Help...” began that I felt calm and peace, the melody was so nice and Ringo´s voice so calm I just felt so relax, then “Lucy in the sky...“ started and it was like I´ve known this song already, so familiar... I went: “I know this song” it was a cool feeling. George´s “Within You...” was the one I could not dig at first but now it´s one of my favorites and in LOVE... Man! It is just the way I´ve always imagined and finally ”Lovely Rita“ was the first song I ever learned to play in the guitar so... Thank you Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr for the Pepper´s memories.
In 1964 The Beatles were the first live band I saw. Their subsequent albums correlated with my high school years, culminating with
Sgt. Pepper's release a few weeks before I graduated. It was also playing two months later while I took my first LSD trip. A perfect time loop :)
My Sgt Pepper experience began the day i came home from the hospital. My dad and my mom who had the forsight to engineer my life with good music had the famous album cover poster hanging in my bedroom. As i grew up and stared with wonder at the menagerie of faces i began to surround myself with the music and the spirit of that era. i am 23 now and the old poster from my childhood bedroom is long gone but the journey that began with The Lonely Hearts Club Band still continues. Were there other influences in my musical architecture? Of corse. But when i put on Sgt. Pepper i am taken back to a world of wonder and ingenuity much of today's music simply can't recreate.
I was born in 68 and remember as a young teenager, Jimi Hendrix playing the song 3 days after the album was released in Paris. It acutally sounded better than the Beatles version.
Yeah... um... I have *several* copies of the original mono album, and, let me just state for the record (pun intended) that it's ATROCIOUS. I revel in it purely for its ungodly sloppy awfulness, and for how clearly it demonstrates that the Beatles, George Martin, et al. were pretty much done with mono and gave all their attention (rightly so) to the stereo mix.

I was only 4 years old when Pepper was released, so it has existed in my immediate conciousness all my life. While not as mind-blowing as Revolver and not as elegant as Abbey Road, it's important as a fully-realized concept that single-handedly turned pop music from being cheap kiddie fodder to becoming a serious life-style talisman that transitional adults could own, examine, interpret, discuss and mythologize (a phenomenon previously reserved primarily for books).

Overall, as some people have mentioned, Pepper is, as Beatles albums go, a bit of a downer... the songs lack a significant amount of the usual Beatle cheer, which was regained for their far-trippier Magical Mystery Tour follow-up.

In particular, John's contributions are downright dumpy: "Lucy..." may be a classic psychedelic song, but there's no denying that its head is in fact in the clouds, and Lennon's usual wit and bite is sorely missed. "...Mr. Kite" is a fun novelty song, but isn't much more than that... and "Good Morning..." was obviously a funky little rave-up at its inception (evidenced by the early take on Anthology 2, but ended up as one of the most irritating, annoying songs the Beatles ever recorded, and not for any deliberate reason, either... the track sounds like John just gave up on the song at some point and decided to have it buried in layers of aggressive, overbearing shrillness.

So we're left with a Paul-heavy album, which, when you remove the "Pepper/Help From My Friends" intro, the "Pepper (Reprise)/A Day In The Life" coda, and George's sublime "Within You, Without You", turns up pretty thin... and pretty lethargic. Paul would cheer up considerably for MMT with "Hello Goodbye", "Fool On The Hill", and "Magical Mystery Tour".

HAVING SAID ALL THIS, though, there's no denying the Power of Pepper: the Beatles may have abandoned the "faux band" concept (and the "wistful nostalgia tour of Britain" concept, too, of which "Penny Lane", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "When I'm 64" are of a thematic piece) early on, but they busted their Beatle butts turning out an envelope-pushing piece of mid-century pop art. Perhaps they knew they'd hit their rococo period and adjusted accordingly, as Magical Mystery Tour, with all its flaws, feels like a much more honest, carefree affair.

The true trendy thing these days is to revisit Pepper as a durable, immutable masterwork and, in doing so, gloss over its obvious and persistent problems. It's Abbey Road that, in my mind, stands up as the Beatles' most cohesive, forward-thinking, complete album. But, in a way, it seems like the Pepper concept won in the end after all... in the 40 years that have passed, it's become less of a Beatles album and more of a cultural milestone of its era, of rock music in general, and of art as a metaphor for meaning.

If there is any reason to celebrate the album, it is for the inclusion of perhaps one of the band's Top 10 compositions of all time: the gorgeous, transcendant "With A Little Help From My Friends", a song that is deliriously complex beneath its pleasant, sing-songy presentation, and at no other time was the sheer innocence of Ringo's voice put to better use. In an of itself, "...Help From My Friends" is facet of crystal clarity in the intricate jewel of the Beatles' discography. They would only sporadically shimmer so brightly ever again...
In June of 1967 had just finished my 8th grade year but I was already playing bass guitar with a group of other musicians all older than me. The leader of our band wanted us to hear the new Beatles album, Sgt. Peppers. We all crammed into his car out front of his parents house in the small town of Orestes, Indiana. He played it on his new car cassette stereo. We listened to the who thing straight through. We were in awe. We were stunned. There was not one song on that album that we could play nor would we attempt to play. They had written songs we couldn't touch only admirer.
I was born in August of 1963, just 6 months before Beatlemania began. So I grew up listening to them from the day my parents took me home to today. I remember at the age of 5 hearing Sgt. Pepper's in its entirety for the first time and recognizing the voices and trying to compremend if these were the same guys who did She Loves You just a few years earlier.
The way the album flows really takes you to another place and time. Even today, listening to the album still gives me chills. It's simply amazing.
I want to thank my mother and father who were always playing Beatles music in the house.
Today, almost any musician has been influenced by the Beatles. It is just one of those things.
With every listening the album feels fresh, but yet all these different memories seem to creep up on me when the album is playing. And I like that a lot. This album will be one of those albums that I will listen to for the rest of my life.
Listening to "Mr. Kite" as I type this, feel the same as when I did when I was 12 and heard it for the first time. "Sgt. Pepper," "Abbey Road" and "The White Album" are the only albums I remember listening to for the first time. This is the best album of all time simply because until it came out it still felt like the world was in the 1950's. After one listen nothing was ever the same, the 60's and 70's officially began in that moment. Forty years ago today the Beatles blew our collective minds.
Wow I was 12 when this came out, it blew me away, listening back then was like music for the mind, this was a special summer (summer of love) and we knew it, a special album, a whole new way of looking at things, the summer did not last but the music will, God Bless The Fab 4,
My Pepper memories? Mostly being bored out of my mind by a bunch of conservative Brits limply adding tacky emphemera to treacle like "She's Leaving Home" and wondering what exactly people saw in it.
Chip, I think that production value over talent actually died with the advent of MTV in August '81, not with the '67 release of "Sgt.Pepper..." And to the anon guy with the 6-figure income: who cares...
While I believe that "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is certainly a good album, I think it's also one of the most overrated. Among Beatles albums, "Revolver" and "Rubber Soul" were better and more cohesive albums in terms of songwriting and performance. The cultural impact of this album on America is certainly great, but I lived through those times and I don't remember any of the tracks on Sgt Pepper having as great an impact on American culture as Petula Clark's "Downtown", Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", or even "All You Need is Love", from the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" album.
I am old enough to remember that when Sgt Pepper came out it was radically different than anything that preceded it, much like "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was very different than the pre-1964 music that preceded it. I, like many others who have posted a comment, would probably say that it is arguable that Abbey Road, Revolver and Rubber Soul are as good or better, but none of them took contemporary music to a whole new level. From the painstaking six months that it took to record to the complex instrumentation and sounds that simply could not be reproduced on stage, it dramatically raised the bar.

It is very sad that the pressures of the hit singles driven music business of the 1960s forced the premature release of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields as a single causing both songs to be left off the album. If either one of those songs (or both) had replaced "Within You, Without You" there is no question that Sgt. Pepper would have been a masterpiece without equal.

I don't really buy into the whole "concept record" idea. Once you get past Paul as Sgt. Pepper introducing Ringo as Billy Shears, the concept really ends and what you have are a series of excellent songs. However, the one thing that the album did that was very new at the time was to run the songs together so it felt like a symphony with differrent movements rather than individual songs.

The genius of the Beatles in my view was their remarkable variety and consistency. Of all the music they recorded, there simply were very few bad songs and each seemed to offer something new and different. As a result, the music is timeless. In 50 years, I would be willing to bet that not a single rap song will be listened to by anyone, but you will still hear "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby." I took my young sons to see Paul McCartney on his recent US tour. Paul sang Beatles' song after Beatles' song that night, and towards the end of the show, during "Hey Jude," one of my sons, who was 10 at the time, noticing that that everyone had been singing along to song after song, turned to me and said, "Daddy, how does everyone know the words."

That says it all.
A friend from church shared it with me over at his house, and I was instantly captivated. It became an obsession. I ended up making a full length 8mm movie with the album as the soundtrack, and my friends and relatives in roles. It took me two and a half years to finish the film, and all this time I lived and breathed the album song by song, lyric by lyric, frame by frame. It's still my all time favorite album.
OK kids...the thing is - you had to be there. Time it was and what a time it was...
In the first week of June 1967 I had just finished sixth grade and my older brother and fellow Beatle fan was just out of tenth grade. He had just purchased the Monkees' Headquarters, which impressed us as they were evolving and actually playing most of their own instruments. The next Thursday he spotted this new Beatles album in J.C. Penney's and bought it. We immediately forgot all about the Monkees. We looked all over the cover on the way home and once we were there he put it on our parents' record player. Initially, I was a little disoriented. The first thing I heard was crowd noises and then a pulsating song with Paul in scream mode talking about 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. I thought, "Hey wait a minute. This is the Beatles, not some fictional band" but I was swept along for the ride. Not only were the Beatles playing the roles of Sgt. Pepper's band but they introduced another character, Billy Shears, played by Ringo. I had been prepared for the album to a certain extent by the 'Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields' single and I noticed that "Little Help from My Friends" had that same 'Penny Lane' tempo. What followed was the most bizarre John song I'd heard up to that time. In the beginning his voice is already distorted but then with "Cellophane flowers of yellow and green" he morphs into something completely different. I follow the journey through a trio of fascinating Paul songs and feel like I've been transported back to a previous century with "She's Leaving Home". I'm still in that last century visiting a bizarre circus in "Benefit of Mr. Kite". Flipping to the second side is the most bizarre song I've heard from George as well. The sitar with orchestra creates a cinematic tone and I feel like I'm bobbing on an elephant ride through India. Then it's back to vaudeville with "When I'm 64" and another bouncy Paul number, "Lovely Rita", the high energy "Good Morning" and then back full circle to "Sgt. Pepper". It's not quite the end though. There's the epic "Day in the Life", which puts me on another level altogether with the orgasmic orchestral crescendo hitting me full force before I even knew what 'orgasmic' meant. The total package--the amazing, adventurous music, the gaudy cover, the lyrics printed on the back and, for the kid in all of us, the cutouts. My brother and I could think of nothing else for quite a while after that. Everything else paled in comparison, even the other great music that was popping up in various places. Sgt. Pepper became a new baseline, a standard against which all other ambitious music would be judged. It certainly changed my life in a more profound way than the major events of that time. I was already a fanatic but the Beatles reached a new level and pulled me and millions of others onto that level with them. It opened a door that could never be opened again; nor could it be closed. It brought fresh air into life and I, for one, took it all in through one deep breath.
I got the album in June of '67, just after it came out as a present from my parents for passing grade 5. I had been having trouble in school that year, but managed finally not to have to repeat my year. My older brother had told them to get it, probably because he wanted it himself, but I loved the record immediately, even though I was a little scared of it. The lovable mop-tops ( I had been collecting Beastle cards), had grown facial hair and donned strange, satiny military outfits. Some friend of my brother's said the beatles are dead and the cover picture was of them standing at their own gravesite. It was scary, beuatiful, mysterious and transcending all at the same time. It was also the summer of Expo 67 ( I live in Montreal, Canada) and the album, together with Expo, made that summer more than fabulous—it haleped make me who I am today!
Sgt. Pepper is the most daring mind expanding experience on record. It is a product of the times, a time when The Beatles and George Martin went far beyond the limits of pop music creativity, incorporating symphonic, electronic, Indian and sound collages. The lyrics were filled with images that popped of the page and lingered in one's mind. They set a new unclassified standard that defied any one style of music and took the listener to a place where they have never been before.
Grounding-breaking, amazing album, but not my favorite Beatles LP. That honor goes to "Abby Road" -- the first LP I ever bought with my own money! I was 8 years old, and I thought "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was hysterical.
While I'll grant that Sgt. Pepper is essential for any comprehensive rock library, I consider it more relevant as a cultural marker than a solid work of music. Best Beatles album? Revolver, with Abbey Road and the white album not too far behind. Best album of 1967? Gotta go with The Velvet Underground and Nico. Greatest album of all time? Hints: it turned 40 last year, it's also a Capitol release, and no, it isn't Revolver again.

Having said all this, I'll probably give my Sgt. P CD an anniversary spin before bedtime...I'm on a Macca kick gearing up for his new one anyhow.
In the summer of 67, I was 11 years old and had recently returned to the States from being in Africa. At that age, I was more into summer baseball, swimming, going to camp, and VBS (a few of you will get that) than I was music. But Sgt. Pepper for sure captured my attention. I had been a Beatles fan since the git-go, with "She Loves You" being my first 45 to ever own. "Abbey Road" became my ultimate favorite album, but without Pepper, there never would have been an Abbey Road.

I think Pepper sent out a salient message to both the music world, and to anywhere else you wanted to apply it.....STATUS QUO WAS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for their genius.
My first memory of doing anything at all in my life was when I was 2 in 1977. I was having a temper tantrum, and I threw the Sgt Pepper's record down the shag-carpet stairs in my childhood home. Since then, I have built many good memories around Sgt. Peppers and the Beatles, including the creation of a fun Beatles Radio Show. I thank my parents for having brought my brother and me up with great music used to fuel our imaginations for the better.

DJ Apple
bought 8 or so l.p.s of sgt. pepper for myself and my friends, right off the truck unloading them at the record store sam goodys. went to my first class that morning at college- freshman year- gave out all but one of those records.

after school, listened to the record all night. i still have the record i bought that morning- it's on my wall.

i consider it their greatest classic. it will be listened to in the coming ages, as mozart is listened to....
The Beatles and their music changed my life. I was 17 when "Pepper" came out and I recall the mystical, circus-like and hallucinatory effects it left behind. It was beyond any auditory sensation a drug could induce. I began sensing something magical beginning with "hints" of genius within "Rubber Soul". "Yesterday and Today" was the connector to "Revolver", "Pepper's", "Magical", and the infamous "The White Album" era. "Submarine" is one I still can't figure out nor will I ever try. "Abbey" rolling into "Let It Be" was the Beatles telling the end of their story.

Agree or disagree, when The Beatles hit Ed Sullivan's stage it was truly the beginning of an era "I" don't think any other band in the history of music has been able to closely rival.

Peace . . .
I was and still am a rabid Beatles fan. In the samll town I'm from you didn't hear about pending release dates for new Beatles albums. I heard a couple of tracks on the radio and new right away, of course, who it was. I went down to the record stora and asked if there were any new Beatles singles. The guy said no, but they do have a new album out. I borrow $5.00 from my sister and went out and bought it. It blew my mind. I think I listen to it about 10 times that first day, and countless times since. It truely deserves all the accolades it has garnered through out the years. It was and is, in my opinion, THEE GREATEST Rock and Rock album of all time! Bar none. That same album hangs on the wall in my music studio at home. I don't think I ever paid my sister back the $5.00. Oh,well.

Gene in San Diego
I was about 12 years old, and hopelessly ungroovy - short, curly hair instead of long, straight hair; I listened to classical music when all my friends listened to pop and rock & roll; but my older brother wanted to buy Sgt. Pepper's, and said that if I gave him half the money, we could share the record. I didn't want it because it was (yuck!) rock music, but I idolized my brother so said "OK". From the time he brought it home, we started fighting over who got to listen to it, and it would disappear from whoever's stereo it was last on. I haven't looked back since - the Beatles got me started on a long and winding rock & roll journey that still continues today. They were my first love, and I still love them. My favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road, though.

Julie in Portland
I was 9 years old, studying drums. My father was a Big Band drummer and when I was 6, put me on to watching Ringo, as he felt his style outstanding. I was in a band with members 15 to 17 years old. I bought the album and we all gathered around my dads stereo. We got goosebumps. None of us were prepared for what we heard and sat in silence. In about 3 months we performed side 2 at a high school dance, with variants of side one.

While many great albums have come along. Some I listen to a lot more than Pepper today, still I put on the CD, sit back, it still sounds fresh and I'll still hear something different. None have made that impact and when people say #1, I too can argue for other bands. After 40 years, maybe we should just accept it and argue about #2:)

My son 32, recently sent an email that he dug out some Beatles after hearing the recent remastered "LOVE" CD. He said he had grown up with the Beatles, but Sgt. Peppers was an album you can feel. He's now been back tracking on their discography and really enjoying it.

Cheers Paul and Ringo, dare ya to do it again.
A few days after my 7th birthday, my family and I visited the local K-Mart store to buy me a gift. My older sister joined us, taking the opportunity to ask my Dad to borrow $3.00 to buy something for herself. After a while, she returned to our party of 6 with the Sgt. Pepper's album. My father was livid when he found out that the album cost $2.50. To make a long story short, we returned home and listened to the album. The music coming out of the stereo speakers was magical. It took us to another plateau that any of us felt or heard before.

Now the Pepper turns 40. I've just celebrated by 47th birthday with my family, and listening to the vynyl [which I inheret] on a turntable attached to our now entertainment center. Yep, the album that created so much financial controversy between my sister and my father is still in my now Beatles' vynyl collection.

Now my Dad is passed 64, my sister nearing 60, and I, well, now I hear my dad say "those $2.50 were the best investment ever".

Happy B-Day Pepper, and thanks to John, Paul, George and Ringo for giving us such a classic treat.
Living in Scotland in the sixties, we never always got records / LP’s in the music shop on the day of release. Sometimes it took a week or so. Anyway my uncle had been visiting my sister in London who had started a new job with the BBC. Anyway he arrive with an early birthday present for me. My birthday is on the 6th June and he handed me this package on the 2nd June. It was the Pepper Album. I put it on right away and could not believe my ears. I have to admit it was very different from anything else and it took me sometime to take it all in . The cover was amazing with great photos. My mates were round my house all of that week until they could get their hands on their own Pepper.

You could hear Pepper everywhere you went, towns’ villages and the city. Great times great memories. Four great lads that still give me and many others happy feelings.
I was four and a half when Sgt. came out. I bought the lp in March 1975, after I got all A's third quarter, sixth grade. It was the first time I saw a fifty dollar bill, as my grandpa paid for the album. I had heard Elton's overdone Lucy and was more impressed with the original. I think I played it for about nine hours straight. To this day "Good Morning, Good Morning", "A Day in the Life" and "She's Leaving Home" are my favorites. When I bought my first cd player in 85, Sgt. Pepper was bought as a cd as soon as it was available. I have played through one copy and am on a second. I would say it is my favorite of all time. And Paul's new "Memory Almost Full" is pretty damned good as well. Take a listen to it. It is his most honest cd since Flaming Pie.
Sounds fresher than never after all these years. And all that innovations bugged me from the start. I had access to one original vinyl and the inner groove thing blew my mind! Man, they were and are great!
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