Can anyone explain to me what the front cover is all about, or is it just a random selection of clelebs? Is there an actual meaning of the cover?
The Grammy Award-winning album packaging was created by art director Robert Fraser, mostly in collaboration with McCartney, designed by Peter Blake, and photographed by Michael Cooper. It featured a colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people on the front of the album cover; and, as a bow to the interest that Beatles’ songs now inspired, the lyrics were printed on the back cover, the first time this had been done on a pop LP. The Beatles themselves, in the guise of the Sgt Pepper band, were dressed in eye-catching military-style outfits made of satin dyed in day-glo colours. Among the insignia on their uniforms are:
MBE medals on McCartney and Harrison’s jackets
The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom, on Lennon’s right sleeve
OPP badge (Ontario Provincal Police)on MaCartney’s sleeve
Art director Robert Fraser was a prominent London art dealer who ran the Indica Gallery. He had become a close friend of McCartney and it was only at his strong urging that the group abandoned their original cover design, a psychedelic painting by The Fool.
Fraser was one of the leading champions of modern art in Britain in the 1960s and beyond. He argued strongly that the Fool artwork was not well-executed and that the design would soon date. He convinced McCartney to abandon it, and offered to art-direct the cover; it was Fraser’s suggestion to use an established fine artist and he introduced the band to a client, noted British ‘pop’ artist Peter Blake, who in collaboration with his wife, created the famous cover collage, known as “People We Like”.
According to Blake, the original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows The Beatles, as the Sgt Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, which were created as lifesize cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of The Beatles as they appeared in the early ’60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. Appearing to be looking down on the Beatles name in flowers as if it were a grave, it’s been speculated that it symbolizes that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone. At their feet were several affectations from the Beatles’ homes including small statues belonging to Lennon and Harrison, a small portable TV set and a trophy. A young delivery boy who provided the flowers for the photo session was allowed to contribute a guitar made out of yellow hyacinths. Although it has long been rumoured that some of the plants in the arrangement were cannabis plants, this is untrue. Also included is a doll wearing a sweater giving homage to the Rolling Stones (who would return the favor by having the Beatles hidden in the cover of their own “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request” LP later that year).
The collage depicted more than 70 famous people, including writers, musicians, film stars and (at Harrison’s request) a number of Indian gurus. Starr reportedly made no contribution to the design. The final grouping included Marlene Dietrich, W.C. Fields, Bob Dylan, Sigmund Freud, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Marlon Brando, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and controversial comedian Lenny Bruce. Also included was the image of the original Beatles bass player, the late Stuart Sutcliffe. Pete Best said in a later NPR interview that Lennon borrowed family medals from his mother Mona for the shoot, on condition he not lose them. Adolf Hitler was originally requested by John Lennon, although he eventually bowed to pressures from the rest of the band to not include Hitler on the final cover. A cardboard printout of Hitler was actually made, and can be seen leaning against the wall in several photographs taken of the photoshoot. The entire list of people on the cover can be found at List of images on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The package was also one of the first ‘gatefold’ album covers, that is, the album could be opened up like a book, to reveal a large picture of the Fab Four in costume against a yellow background. The reason for the gatefold was that The Beatles planned on filling two LPs for the release. The designs had already been approved and sent to be printed when they realized they would only have enough material for one LP.
Originally the group wanted the album to include a package with pins, pencils and other small Sgt. Pepper goodies but this proved far too cost-prohibitive. Instead, the album came with a page of cut-outs, with a description in the top left corner:
Picture Card of Sgt. Pepper
Stand Up of the band
The special inner sleeve, included in the early pressings of the LP, featured a multi-coloured psychedelic pattern designed by The Fool.
The collage created legal worries for EMI’s legal department, which had to contact those who were still living to obtain their permission. Mae West initially refused вЂ” famously asking “What would I be doing in a lonely heart’s club?” вЂ” but she relented after The Beatles sent her a personal letter. Actor Leo Gorcey requested payment for inclusion on the cover, so his image was removed. An image of Mohandas Gandhi was also removed at the request of EMI, who had a branch in India and were fearful that it might cause offense there. John Lennon had, perhaps facetiously, asked to include images of Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler, but these were rejected because they would almost certainly have generated enormous controversy. Most of the suggestions for names to be included came from McCartney, Lennon and Harrison, with additional suggestions from Blake and Fraser (Ringo said he’d be okay with whatever the others chose). Beatles manager Brian Epstein (who died just after the album’s release) had serious misgivings, stemming from the scandalous U.S. Butcher Cover controversy the previous year, going so far as to give a note reading вЂњBrown paper bags for Sgt. PepperвЂќ to Nat Weiss as his last wish.
The collage was assembled by Blake and his wife during the last two weeks of March 1967 at the London studio of photographer Michael Cooper, who took the cover shots on March 30, 1967 in a three-hour evening session. Both Lennon and Harrison were tripping on LSD while the photographs were being taken. The final bill for the cover was ВЈ2,868 5s/3d, a staggering sum for the time вЂ” it has been estimated that this was 100 times the average cost for an album cover in those days.
The cover was subsequently parodied by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in the cover art of their album We’re Only In It For The Money (although McCartney initially refused permission for the Mothers parody cover to be released, he later relented). It was also parodied in the opening credits of an episode of The Simpsons. It has also been mimicked by Dutch comic artist Koen Hottentot as Sgt Croppers Yearly Fairport Band for the a Fairport Convention festival programme and subsequent poster. Swedish artist David Liljemark did a parody of the cover for a magazine, depicting a hypothetical future for the band Sven-Ingvars. The August 13, 2001 issue of the The Sporting News featured a version of this album when New York City was selected as their best sports city during the July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 time period (one of the last images of the World Trade Center shown in popular culture before the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001). MAD Magazine also parodied the cover in its August 2002 issue (#420), featuring “The 50 Worst Things About Music.” Rolling Stone’s 1,000th issue (May 18-June 1, 2006), consisted of a lenticular, 3-D cover with 154 rock & roll and pop cultural figures, including, prominently, The Beatles themselves, arranged in a style reminiscent of the famed Sgt. Pepper’s cover.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows The Beatles, as the Sgt Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, which were created as lifesize cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of The Beatles as they appeared in the early ’60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. Appearing to be looking down on the Beatles name in flowers as if it were a grave, it’s been speculated that it symbolizes that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone. At their feet were several affectations from the Beatles’ homes including small statues belonging to Lennon and Harrison, a small portable TV set and a trophy. A young delivery boy who provided the flowers for the photo session was allowed to contribute a guitar made out of yellow hyacinths. Although it has long been rumoured that some of the plants in the arrangement were cannabis plants, this is untrue. Also included is a doll wearing a sweater giving homage to the Rolling Stones (who would return the favor by having the Beatles hidden in the cover of their own “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request” LP later that year).
its without doubt the greatest album ever made. the cover as good and thought provoking as it is, it does not hold a candle to the music on the inner sleeve.
imagine a world where “a day in the life” was never written.
Can remember Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928) looking all thoughtful and pensive in the back row…perhaps that was a ‘thanks, buddy’ action, as from 1966 onwards, the Beatles dealt with back-tape play/electronics, and using the same methods for their tunes as Herr Stockhausen did as early as 1953 – the rest of the faces…well, I suspect some were there just for fun.
Supposedly, it had a lot of clues on it that showed that Paul McCartney died.
For example, there’s a hand over Paul’s head that represents death.
Also, Paul had a patch on his sleeve that said OPD (as in Officially Pronounced Dead)
Of course, Paul is still quite alive.