Beatles Book

 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles psychedelic masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We’ve asked Beatles authority and veteran music journalist Brian Southall to tell us his personal favourite facts about each track on the album - from the secret origins of Sgt. Pepper’s name to the inspiration behind She’s Leaving Home and many more! Have a taste below and be sure to get the whole history behind the album and the year it was released in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, The Beatles, and the World in 1967.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Album) – Paul McCartney got the name ‘Pepper’ from either an in-flight salt/pepper sachet or the American soft drink Dr Pepper and the idea of the ‘Lonely Hearts Club Band’ came from the American West Coast’s obsession with strange names for bands – such as Country Joe McDonald & The Fish, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Inventions and Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The title track was almost certainly the first song from the album to be performed live when Jimi Hendrix opened his show at the Saville Theatre in London on June 4th, 1967 (three days after its official release) by playing it in front of an audience including The Beatles.

With A Little Help From My Friends – Never issued as a single by The Beatles, this song has the best UK chart history of any Sgt. Pepper track with five entries including Joe Brown and the Young Idea in 1967 plus three chart topping versions by Joe Cocker (1968), Wet Wet Wet (1988) and Sam & Mark (2004).

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The great debate still rolls on as to whether this track was inspired by a painting done by John Lennon’s four-year old son Julian about a girl called Lucy O’Donnell coupled with Lennon and McCartney’s love of Lewis Carroll … or the drug LSD.

Getting Better – Jimmie Nicol sat in as drummer with The Beatles in 1964 when Ringo Starr was taken ill and when asked how things were going he would usually reply “it’s getting better”, a phrase Paul McCartney adopted as the basis for the song.

Fixing A Hole – For the first time in five years the Beatles stepped outside EMI’s Abbey Road studios to record when they went to Regent Sound near London’s Tottenham Court Road to record this track. Although none of their ‘regular’ EMI team were allowed out to join them, producer George Martin was able to oversee proceedings as he had left EMI in 1965.

She’s Leaving Home – A newspaper story about 17 year-old runaway schoolgirl Melanie Coe inspired McCartney to create this song although he had probably forgotten that in 1963 he had presented her with a prize for dancing on TV’s Ready Steady Go when The Beatles made their debut appearance.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite – While making a promotional film to go with the record Strawberry Fields, Lennon wandered into an antiques shop in Sevenoaks in Kent and bought a circus poster from 1843 which advertised a show as ‘being for the benefit of Mr Kite’.

Within You Without You – The only track on Sgt. Pepper that was not written by Lennon and McCartney, George Harrison’s song was inspired by Hindu teaching and verses from the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Mark. It featured musicians from the Asian Music Circle in London.

When I’m Sixty Four – After it was decided not to include Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane on the album, this track goes down in history as the first song to be recorded for Sgt. Pepper (in December 1966) and it is also the oldest. It was written in around 1957 or 1958 and featured in Beatles’ live shows back in 1962.

Lovely Rita – Britain had traffic wardens while America had meter maids and that was the phrase that McCartney heard and used for this song. A traffic warden who had ‘booked’ McCartney, later claimed she inspired the song after he looked at her signature on the parking ticket and commented on her unusual name …. Meta.

Good Morning Good Morning – During the ‘lazy days’ he spent in bed in the mid-sixties, Lennon took inspiration from everyday things and this song came to him when he saw a black and white television commercial for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes which used the chorus ‘good morning, good morning’.

A Day In The Life – While the death of a friend in a car crash and a newspaper report about holes in the road in Blackburn was Lennon’s inspiration, McCartney looked back to his bus trip to school for his contribution to the last track on Sgt. Pepper. It finishes with a frequency noise that was set so high that only dogs could hear it.

 

Order Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, The Beatles and The World in 1967 now.