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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

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"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
Song by The Beatles
Album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (album)
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 1 February 1967

1 April 1967 (reprise)

Genre Psychedelic Rock, Pop
Length 2:02; 1:18 (reprise)
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (album) track listing
'Paul wrote it after a trip to America. The whole west coast long named group thing was coming in, you know, when people were no longer called the Beatles or the Crickets, they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes. He got influenced by that and came up with this idea of doing us as somebody else. He was trying to put something between the Beatles and the public. It took the "I" out of it some. Like the early days, saying "She loves you" instead of "I love you." So that's the song.

—John Lennon, 1980

It was an idea I had, I think, when I was flying from L.A. to somewhere. I thought it would be nice to lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a fake group. We would make up all the culture around it and collect all our heroes in one place. So I thought, A typical stupid-sounding name for a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and Traveling Circus kind of thing would be 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Just a word game, really.

—Paul McCartney, 1984

The title song is really a good old-fashioned rocker, but it pulls people into the album with its illusion of a live performance. By adding the sound effects of applause, tuning up, and so on, we tried to paint a tableau: of the curtain going up and seeing the band on the stage. Once again, we were trying to create the illusion of being able to shut one's eyes and see a complete picture, created by music. Sgt. Pepper's band really was up there blasing away for us. In fact, of all the songs on the album, the opening song was the nearest we got to a fully fledged live performance in the studio. It was a 'live' show in its own right, every time, even though only a privileged few of us ever saw it.

—George Martin, Summer of Love 1994 & 2006

Maybe we took ourselves too seriously. The song 'Sgt. Pepper' should have been left as straight rock, I thought. You know, forget Billy Shears, just do the song. There were four of us then, and we had to, sort of, compromise. A concept album is a joke to me.

—John Lennon

Billy Shears is another (name) that sounds like a schoolmate but isn't. Ringo's Billy Shears. Definitely. It just happened to turn out that we dreamed up Billy Shears. It was a rhyme for "years" ... "band you've known for all these years ... and here he is the one and only Billy Shears". We thought, that's a great little name, it's an Eleanor Rigby-type name, a nice atmospheric name, and it was leading into Ringo's track. So as far as we were concerned it was purely and simply a device to get the next song in.

—Paul McCartney

It was just a song called 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,' made up to open the album. Then we went on to the Billy Shears idea at the end of it and went segue into Ringo's number, and it made the whole thing seem integrated. So we finished the album with it to kind of top-and-tail it, a bit like we've done on Band on the Run and, there you go, everyone said "Ah! A concept album!" It was the first time I'd heard the word.

—Paul McCartney

We were fed up with being Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn't want anymore, plus, we'd now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers... then suddenly on the plane I got this idea. I thought, 'Let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos so we're not having to project an image which we know. It would be much more free.'

—Paul McCartney, 1998

I was just thinking of words like Sergeant Pepper, and Lonely Hearts Clubs, and they came together for no reason. But, after you've written it down, you start to think, 'There's this Sergeant Pepper who has taught the band to play, and got them to play,' so that, at least, they found one number. They're a bit of a brass band in a way, but also a bit of a rock band because they've got the San Francisco thing.

—Paul McCartney

It starts off with applause, or rather atmosphere, from a recording I made in Cambridge with the Beyond The Fringe crowd, Dudley Moore and company.

—George Martin


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