On June 1, 1967, I was in eighth grade at St. Michael’s Parochial School in Exeter, NH. I might have been thinking about graduation, but more than likely most of my thoughts were more about Alice, a girl in my class that I was kind of starting to like.
I was not thinking about the new Beatles’ album.
I’d moved past the Beatles by then. I had several singles I’d bought back in 1964 after seeing them on Ed Sullivan and I had the albums Something New, Something New and Beatles ’65. (These were American Beatles albums, having no relation to the albums that the band was releasing in England. This was something I didn’t realize for many years.) My new favorite group was the Rolling Stones, the bad boys of rock & roll. I’d bought the albums Big Hits: High Tide and Green Grass and Aftermath. Later in June of ’67, I bought Flowers and brought it over to Alice’s house so that she could hear all these great songs that I was really excited about and… she mostly just giggled. In retrospect, she was probably justified because I now know that the rest of the world was listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I did finally buy a (vinyl) copy of Sgt. Pepper, but I don’t remember when. (It has the Apple label, so it must have been in the ’70’s sometime.) The song “With A Little Help From My Friends” became a staple of my performing repertoire all through the 1980’s and when I was a member of Merseyside, a Beatles cover band in the early ’90’s, we did the whole triptych of “Sgt. Pepper/Little Help/Lucy In The Sky.” (And we rocked.) Finally, on 09/09/09 I was at Bullmoose Records in Portsmouth bright and early to buy my (remastered and repackaged) first CD copy. It sounds amazingly fantastic, revealing even more of the remarkable detail of this incredible work of art. Highly recommended.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the eighth album that the band released in the four years and eight months of their recording career. According to the book The Beatles: Recording Sessions (1988), December 6, 1966 was the day that recording started on a song for the album. That was: “When I’m Sixty-Four,” a song that they’d written years before and used to perform at gigs to fill in when their equipment broke down. The last recording for the album was on April 21, 1967 when they recorded the spoken gibberish that was meant to be heard after the huge piano chord ending of “A Day In The Life” as the record player tone arm tracked the record’s groove right to the end. (It is on the CD.) While recording the songs for Sgt. Pepper, they also recorded “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” which were released as a single.
So, they went from their first record, the single “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You,” released in England on October 5, 1962, to the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” released world-wide on June 1, 1967. As Mark Lewisohn wrote in the Recording Sessions book: “What surely stands out most of all is the Beatles’ sheer progression to this point in time.”
Happy first day of June.