Art of the LP: Sergeant Pepper

Full lyrics were a rarity in 1967
Inner gatefold

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most famous “sleeve as art” record, and also one of the most pastiched. I found nearly fifty pastiches online and I won’t consider them all. This article is NOT about the music, a whole other subject.

George Martin: Until Sgt Pepper, album covers had been rather boring, almost without exception. It used to make me very angry, the way record companies would present such good products so badly. To my way of thinking, the cover was as significant as what it contained.
George Martin, Summer of Love, 1994

Peter Saville (post-punk sleeve designer): The Sgt Pepper sleeve is the definitive snapshot of 60s London pop culture with The Beatles at its epicentre. It’s there in the eclecticism, diversity, colour, the time compressed. I’ve always understood pop as the soundtrack to modrrn life and without doubt Sgt Pepper is the movie poster of the soundtrack circa 1967. It’s the composite cacophony of everything right here now; it’s modern and it’s old, it’s the future and it’s history, it’s spacemen and Genghis Khan. It’s Edwardian suits and acid, it’s English uniforms and the latest technologies … and Blake is the architect of it all.
Mojo, March 2007

Peter Blake: Is it the Mona Lisa of album covers? It’s not for me to say, but if someone does say it, I’d agree.
Mojo, March 2007

The concept was Paul McCartney’s, as was the concept of the album. McCartney was collecting paintings and got to know art gallery owner Robert Fraser. Fraser had promoted Yoko Ono’s exhibition in 1966 where she met John Lennon.

It wasn’t the first celebrity collage. They did one for the inner gatefold sleeve of Beatles For Sale in December 1964, presumably credited to front cover photographer Robert Freeman.

Paul McCartney: On Pepper I thought, this is it. It’s an overall concept, we’ll have the cover packed with little things, so three months from now, you’ll go, ‘Oh, I never saw that.’ The idea was to put everything in, the whole world into this package; that’s why we got Peter Blake in.
Paul McCartney, The South Bank Show

The sleeve was designed by Peter Blake, and his wife Jean Haworth. Blake was a reputed pop art artist. Haworth came up with the idea of spelling The Beatles in flowers after seeing a display in Hammersmith while driving with Paul McCartney. Paul was enthused because it reminded him of floral displays in Municipal Parks … my home town of Bournemouth had a huge floral representation of the town coat-of-arms in flowers. Paul came up with the idea of lots of instruments and turned up with a van load of them, though only a couple were used. John Lennon selected the television set. The drum front was commissioned from a fairground artist, Joe Ephgrave. The small bust is T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia.

The photograph was taken by Michael Cooper. It won the 1967 Grammy for best album cover.

Peter Blake: Robert Fraser, a friend of The Stones, owned the gallery I was with. A cover for Sergeant Pepper designed by The Fool already existed and was very psychedelic – swirly orange and green and purple – there were a lot of others like it. Robert thought it would be interesting to have the first cover done by a fine artist as opposed to a record cover designer. A certain amount had already been established: the concept of them being a band within a band, for instance. They’d had their uniforms made alreadyMy main contribution was to decide that if we made the crowd a certain way, it could be anybody. That was the thing that changed the direction of making it: a life-sized collage incorporating real people, waxworks, photographs and artwork.
In Derek Taylor, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, 1987.

Peter Blake: I suggested that they had just played a concert in the park. They were posing for a photograph and the crowd behind them was a crowd of fans who had been at the concert. Having decided on this, then, by making cut-outs, the fans could be anybody, dead or alive, real or fictitious. If we wanted Hansel and Gretel, I could paint them and they could be photographed and blown up. I asked the four Beatles for a list and I did one myself. Robert Fraser did a list and I can’t remember whether Brian Epstein did one or not. The way that worked out was fascinating. John gave me a list and so did Paul. George suggested only Indian gurus, about six of them, and Ringo said, “Whatever the others say is fine by me” and didn’t suggest anyone. It’s an insight into their characters. All kinds of people were suggested. Hitler was there; he is actually in the set-up, but he is covered by the Beatles themselves as we felt he was too controversial. The same applied to Jesus. There were only two of their contemporaries on the cover. Bob Dylan was suggested by John and I put on Dion because he is a great favourite of mine.
Quoted in Spencer Leigh, Love Me Do, Love Me Don’t, 2016

Peter Blake: EMI were horrified when they received the final bill for the sleeve … £2867.15s. 3d. They usually budgeted for £25 for a photograph and they probably expected to go up to £75 for a band of The Beatles calibre. I was paid £200 but I was happy with that. At the end of the day it was a job like any other.
Interviewed by Lois Wilson, Mojo Beatles Special Edition: 1000 Days That Shook The World, 2002

The pound was devalued from $2.80 to $2.40 in 1967 and £2687 in 1967 has the spending power of £44,000 in 2020. George Martin points out that The Beatles paid Robert Fraser £1500 as a package deal, out of which Fraser sub-contracted the work to Blake and Haworth, paying them just the £200 between them. That’s a swingeing commission / finder’s fee by any standards. Galleries usually took 50% of an artist’s fee. Still, they sourced the Sonny Liston waxwork from Madame Tussaud’s who were about to melt it down, and Blake got to keep it after the shoot, and it adorned his studio.

Peter Blake: All the figures which you see behind The Beatles only filled a space about two feet deep, and then there was a line of figures in front of them, which were the waxworks. The actual Beatles stood on a platform about four feet deep in all with the drum in front of them., and in front of that there was a flowerbed which was pitched at an angle, maybe ten feet deep. So that from to back the whole thing was about fifteen feet deep.
Quoted in Derek Taylor, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, 1987

Permissions were a nightmare for EMI. Sir Joseph Lockwood was worried about linking Shirley Temple, a child actress, but now a Republican politician with “what might be considered a drugs record.” It was exacerbated by the fact that she appears three times. The green plants were said to be cannabis and there is a hookah next to Sonny Liston.

George Martin: The spikey little green villains were widely accused of being cannabis plants. In fact they were a very well-kept secret joke … their real Latin name is Peperomia. The funny thing is that nobody can remember who played the joke.
George Martin, Summer of Love, 1994

I just checked on Wikipedia, and he’s correct. George Martin adds that the yellow hyacinth guitar was the idea of the lad delivering the plants from the garden centre, and he did it there and then.

Paul McCartney remembered that EMI were especially concerned about Ghandi on the cover.

Paul McCartney: At that time, EMI were very much a colonial record company. It still is – they sell records in India and China- so they were / are very aware of Indian sensibilities. I remember Sir Joe (Lockwood) coming round to my house in St. John’s Wood, and saying, “I say, Paul, we really can’t do it, old chap. You can’t have Ghandi.” I said, “Why not? We’re revering him.” – “Oh, no. It might be taken the wrong way. He’s rather sacred in India, you know.” So Ghandi had to go.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

Outtake photo. Gandhi can be seen above Diana Dors on the right.

Ghandi had to be airbrushed out and replaced with foliage which was painted in. Sir Joseph Lockwood insisted that Brian Epstein approach everybody portrayed (or their estates) and indemnify EMI against any law suits whatsoever.

Gandhi joined Jesus, Alasteir Crowley and Hitler in being dropped for fear of controversy.

George Harrison: I still have no idea who chose some of those people. I think Peter Blake put a lot of the more confusing people in there. It was just a broad spectrum of people. The ones I wanted were people I admired. I didn’t put anybody on there because I didn’t like them. (Unlike some people …)
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

Leo Gorcy of The Dead End Kids was dropped because he wanted an image rights fee of $500. Blake has said it wasn’t that it was a large sum, so much as a fear of opening the floodgates to demands. Mae West was upset at the concept of herself in ‘A Lonely Heart’s Club’ and declined initially, until a letter signed by all four Beatles persuaded her to agree. George Martin said that Wendy Hanson who did all the permissions clearances received a mere £50 and then had great difficulty getting Brian Epstein to part with the money.

For collectors, you really must have the bits … the inner sleeve and card insert.

The requisite 1967 inner sleeve
The requisite insert with cut outs
1967 Parlophone centre label

The album was reissued many times. I saw an exhibit where the artist had done beautiful cut outs from LPs and books and created a 3D effect in a deep frame. Sergeant Pepper was outstanding … but she had put hours of work round a 1990s re-pressing with a grey label in the centre. I pointed it out at the exhibition. It’s easy enough to find a copy with a clean centre label, and it didn’t matter how good the outer sleeve or vinyl was.

The print of the cut-out art. Sorry about the angle, I could hardly take it out of the rack of prints! Later LP centre … a pity.

In 1978, EMI reissued all The Beatles singles in picture sleeves, including singles released elsewhere but not in the UK. So Sgt Pepper / With A Little Help From My Friends became a single, with A Day In The Life on the B-side.

Sgt Pepper / With A Little Help From My Friends: The Beatles, Parlophone 45, 1978

The 50th Anniversary of the album in 2017 brought the full box set, and taking a leaf from Their Satanic Majesties Request it has a 3D plastic version on the outer sleeve.

2017 50th Anniversary Box Set
50th Anniversary Box Set 2017: The ultimate version with even more bits
Sgt Pepper figurines … you can find Abbey Road and Help figurines too

We’re Only In It For The Money

We’re Only In It For The Money, The Mothers of Invention,
1968 LP Verve, 2019 reissue Zappa Records
gatefold photo

Mojo did a diagram to explain who’s who in 1994:

Mojo magazine 1994

The first up for fun with the concept was The Mothers of Invention with We’re Only In It For The Money released in 1968 on Verve. It was conceived as Our Man in Nirvana, part of a four album project No Commercial Potential, along with Cruising With Ruben & The Jets and Lumpy Gravy and Uncle Meat. Ruben & The Jets, like Sergeant Pepper, created a fictional band.

If anything even more vituperative and magnificent (than the preceding albums). A commentary on the Summer of Love, which the LSD-shunning Zappa viewed as a shallow parade of witless hippies. ‘We’re Only …’ is ruthlessly satirical and breathtakingly topical but it’s also oddly poignant with its helium-voiced psychedelic losers (I hope she sees me dancing and twirling) and its melodically sumptuous mini-suites. It’s an album that takes the almighty piss out of Sgt Pepper and yet strangely begs to be heard alongside it and judged as no less historic and important.
David Cavanagh, Uncut, October 2012

The album was rated #297 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Best Albums of All Time, but like most Zappa it’s frustrating because the best melodic bits disappear far too quickly, and the funny repetitive bits are only funny a few times. To me, it’s impressive, a great end to end listen, but I wouldn’t put it on the turntable frequently.

Zappa spent a great deal on the sleeve, though not as much on the photo shoot as the Beatles had ($4,000, worth about $30,000 today), but then a large slice of the UK budget went to Robert Frazer. It was done in July 1967, hot on the heels of Sergeant Pepper. As others found, doing a full pastiche is expensive even in the days of Photoshop.

Frank Zappa: I got the idea for the We’re Only In It For The Money album, and was looking for an artist capable of creating the ultimate parody of the Sgt Pepper cover. I heard about Cal Schenkel, a former boyfriend of the girl who was our opening act at The Garrick. He came up from Philadelphia and showed me his portfolio. The stuff was great, but the only way to hire him was to find a place for him to stay in New York And guess where it was? So it was Bobby, Bill, Calvin and Dick on the floor in sleeping bags.
Frank Zappa The Real Frank Zappa Book 1989

Cal Schenkel: It was Frank’s concept, and it was just a question of parodying what existed. First Frank did a little sketch of the cover and said, I want to find all these people and get them and put them in the picture. And there were like 100 people. We started to try and get people and it was just impossible. Jimi Hendrix was the only live person there other than the Mothers and the corporate members and Herbie Cohen, Tom Wilson and Gail. The rest were either just found images: some of them came out of Frank’s High School Year Book and there were some old pictures I had. We put the cover together in three pieces, foreground, the Mothers and the foreground people, then the rest was all collaged and stripped in. The photography was done by Jerry Schatzberg who was a pretty famous fashion photographer. We went to his studio, a really upscale New York fashion studio, and there were like ten assistants. It was great.
Mojo, March 1994

Jerrold Schatzberg: Frank approached me because he’d seen the sleeve that I did on the Stones’ Can You See Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows? when they were in drag, and he had an idea that he wanted to do a combination of that and Sgt. Pepper. And instead of flowers and wonderful dreams, he wanted garbage and old food and what you see around on the floor. We both knew Jimi Hendrix, so we asked Jimi to come in, so Jimi sat in there as one of the faces. Frank knew exactly what he wanted, and we discussed it, and stuff just started coming in and we started setting it up and preparing it. It took us, I think, the better part of a day and a half to actually shoot it and I remember finishing quite late at night, but the studio was an absolute mess afterwards, all those vegetables rotting.
Mojo, March 1994

Jimmy Carl Black (Mothers of Invention): Jimi Hendrix was in the Village that week we did the album cover. He was back in America for the first time since he’d made it big in England. He’d come back to headline at The Monterey Pop Festival. He’s not a cardboard prop on the album cover because he was actually with at the shoot. For the record, the other black guy on there is Tom Wilson, the guy with my high school letterman sweater on.
Interview 2013

The album song Flower Punk is a send up of Hey Joe, but maybe Hendrix hadn’t heard it:

Hey Punk, where you goin’ with that flower in your hand?

Frank Zappa: It’s a direct negative” of the Sgt. Pepper album cover. That had blue skies … we had a thunderstorm.

Don Preston (Mothers of Invention): I think that was done at Apostolic Studios in New York, and one of the interesting things I remember about that is doing the album cover. We all had to wear dresses; my dress was I think $200 which at the time was quite a large amount of money for a dress. They were all like that, and the set itself was quite incredible, all these mannequins and vegetables that you can see on the sleeve—it was really amazing. I don’t remember much about the recording of that album, but . . . it came out and sounded pretty good.
Interview, 1993

Zappa asked McCartney directly for permission, and Paul avoided the issue and referred him to “our business managers.” Capitol objected and the album was withdrawn, delayed for five months then reissued with the inner sleeve cover on the front and the pastiche inside. Some copies had the new cover pasted over. You have to consider. Zappa parodies someone’s work, saying they’re only in it for the money. Then he sneered at Paul for having a business manager, then was surprised that Capitol declined permission.

But did Capitol have any rights over the concept? Parodies of art have always existed. ‘Passing-off’ as the real thing is disallowed, but a parody? I doubt that Zappa needed permission. My guess is this. In the UK and Europe, Verve was distributed by EMI. EMI owned Parlophone, and the Beatles US label Capitol. EMI had been unenthusiastic on the Mothers of Invention … Freak Out! was a double LP in the USA, but a single LP in the UK. Who knows what the deal was, but as Verve’s distributor, EMI were in a strong position to exert their wishes.

The Rykco CD in 1995 restored the photoshoot to the front, and added extra pictures from the inner sleeve session inside the plastic tray. The sleeve folds out to eight times its size so you do get the full artwork. The current vinyl reissue (2019) on Zappa Records has the LP as originally intended.

I believe the sleeve analogy has led to too strong an association with Sgt Pepper. The real target is West Coast hippie bands, and South Californian Frank Zappa is attacking all those San Francisco people.

Don Preston (Mothers of Invention) He was making a serious point that the hippies were wearing costumes and forming regiments like everybody they were claiming to be free from.
Uncut, October 2012

That ties in with Frank Zappa at the Royal Albert Hall concert where the audience booed the police and Frank said ‘Everyone here tonight is wearing a uniform.’

Zappa was full-on in his attack on hippiedom:

Walked past the wig store
Danced at the Fillmore
I’m completely stoned
I’m hippy & I’m trippy
I’m a gypsy on my own
I’ll stay a week & get the crabs &
Take a bus back home
I’m really just a phony
But forgive me
‘Cause I’m stoned

Every town must have a place
Where phony hippies meet
Psychedelic dungeons
Popping up on every street

Who Needs The Peace Corps, from We’re Only In It For The Money

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Jun Fukamachi

It’s an instrumental album, with just six of the tracks, with multiple keyboards played by Jun Fukamachi, released in 1977 on Toshiba-EMI. It’s also a “Direct Cut” LP – that is recorded direct to the pressing master. It was reissued in 2012 on CD. The vinyl has been bootlegged too. It’s not spectacularly valuable … original 1977 copies on Discogs range from £9 to £80. Jun Fukamachi can be seen centre right peering between two Beatles, the only person facing forward.

There’s a story behind my getting this album twenty years ago. Juke Box Jive in Ashley Cross kindly let me spend hours in the shop scanning 45’s and EPs for this project. He had someone come in with about two hundred Beatles albums. There were copies from all over the world, and they had belonged to someone in EMIs permissions department. They were unplayed, so mint. He called a Beatles specialist to ask if they wanted to buy them from him. They drove down from the North-West and offered him a few hundred pounds for the lot. He was so angry he told them to leave the shop. As he said, they QUINTUPLED their original offer, but he told them he wouldn’t sell them because he had been deeply insulted by their first offer. In vain they quoted the distance they had driven. He had just two words for them, and the second was “off.” I think he auctioned them in the end, anyway I took a fancy to this sleeve, intending to frame it with Sergeant Pepper and We’re Only In It For The Money and he let me buy it at a very fair price. There is a moral in this story for those purchasing collections.

The Rutles

The Rutles, LP, Warner Bros 1978 US copy

The Rutles started out on a comedy TV series on “Rutland Weekend Television.” Rutland was England’s smallest county until it was obliterated in 1971. The pastiche Beatles were an idea by Eric Idle (of Monty Python) and Neil Innes (of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band). The real performing band was Neil Innes (guitar, keyboards, vocal), Ollie Halsall, (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, drums), Ricky Fataar (guitar, vocals, sitar) and John Halsey (drums, vocal). Ollie Halsall had been in Timebox and Patto and played with Kevin Ayers. Ricky Fataar had been in South African band The Flame, and then joined The Beach Boys. John Halsey had also been in Timebox and Patto, and was a rated session musician too. They could all play.

Their extended Beatles pastiche did several album covers, but only four on the front sleeve. We are interested in Sgt. Rutter’s Dart’s Club Band.

Inset from The Rutles, LP, 1978

They could have taken the cover concept further but they had a lot of album covers to do and left the background section as it was. They were also doing the audio pastiches too.

The inner sleeve booklet is hilarious, and the Sgt Pepper section has them admitting that they drink tea, and even add biscuits. There are things they might find more problematic in these Woke times. Brian Epstein’s autobiography, A Cellar Full of Noise is retitled A Cellar Full of Goys. John Lennon’s comment that the Beatles are bigger than God turns out to be a mishearing by a deaf journalist. He really said The Beatles are bigger than Rod (Stewart).

The Rutles

They had to make afilm version, All You Need Is Cash, written by Eric Idle and Neil Innes,

Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk

2 LP set, Cherry Red 1982

Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk, Cherry Red Records, 1982

Sleeve design by Jim Phelan. I guess being a punk compilation and 1982, you’d have to say the cassette was the master version! At least John Lennon and Andy Warhol got in there prominently.

The sleeve note adds:

In 1976 a boring complacent record industry was given a sound kicking by an army of young people who emerged from the dole queue with guitars in their hands and anger on their minds. Punks were freedom fighters in a world of boring reissues, triple live albums and Hipgnosis sleeve artwork.

OK, so why then pastiche high psychedelia?

Sgt Pepper: Big Daddy

Sgt Pepper’s: Big Daddy CD only

CD only. Rhino, 1992. The collage was designed by Michael Bryan. See the BIG DADDY article on this site. Quoted here:

Their masterpiece was the parody of the complete Sergeant Pepper’s in 1992, yes, the entire album in chronological order done in various 1950s and 1960s styles (with mash-ups). The one and only Billy Shears appears for your dining and dancing pleasure with a cocktail trio at the start of With A Little Help From My Friends when strings and 50s backing vocals gently appear.

Half the fun is matching the parody, though it’s not always song or artist specific. Within You Without You becomes cool avant garde jazz with dramatic poet voiceover. Lovely Rita uses the riff from His Latest Flame. Fixin’ A Hole is Dion’s The Wanderer. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band visits Poison Ivy by The Coasters. A Day In The Life is Buddy Holly complete with plane crash. They start like That’ll Be The Day, then switch in the middle section to a pastiche of Everyday. It’s the best thing they ever did.

Sgt Pepper Knew My Father

Various Artists, New Musical Express 1988 didn’t run to much of a sleeve design though it generated a major hit single, a double A side with Wet Wet Wet and Billy Bragg.

Sergeant Pepper New My Father: New Musical Express 1988

The Simpsons: The Yellow Album

The Yellow Album: The Simpsons, CD, Geffen 1998

Illustrated by Bill Morrison, signed by Matt Groenig. It was recorded before their Blues Album but released later.

In 2005, the artist and designer Kaws created The Kaws Album, a “traced interpretation” of The Yellow Album. In 2019, Sotheby’s auction house in Hong Kong sold The Kaws Album for 115.9 million Hong Kong dollars, or about $14.7 million U.S. dollars, a new auction record for the artist at the time.. Yellow Album artist Bill Morrison felt “ripped off” by this  re-igniting a conversation about the appropriation of commercial illustrations for fine art 

The Kaws Album

St Captain Freak Out & The Magic Bamboo Request

St Captain Freak Out & The Magic Bamboo Request, Ektra CD, Finland 2002

This is by The Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O., a Finnish group not given to short and succinct titles. Just one on the album is A Bamboo Is As Close As Miss.Trout To Mashmallows – Grok Version / A Bamboo Is As Close As Miss.Trout To Mashmallows – Schlock Version. You’ll excuse me if I don’t venture to actually listen to it.

Sgt Petsounds Lonely Heart’s Club Band

2006, by Clayton Counts and it’s a track-by-track mash up pf Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds attributed to The Beachles, with titles like You Still Believe In My Friends, Being for The Benefit of Sloop John B, God Only Knows What I’d Be Within Yoiu and A Day in The Life of Caroline.

According to Wikipedia:

In September 2006 Counts received a cease and desist order from EMI’s attorneys. Notably the letter included a deand for Counts to hand over the IP addresses of everyone who downloaded or streamed the songs.

So 10,000 people have viewed it on YouTube. It’s just mixing up bits of the originals, no new work. Not much work on the sleeve either.

Mad magazine illustration

August 2002 front cover

Mojo Presents Sgt Pepper’s, covermount disc March 2007

Be fair, they couldn’t afford to do the whole session for a covermount CD with Mojo magazine, but they did use iconic images:

Mojo: March 2007. Yes, I bought two and left one sealed …

Peter Blake “Vintage Blake| print 2012

Limited edition of 250 silkscreen prints, signed. £3500.

It included these people: Amy Winehouse; Paul Smith, fashion designer; Ian Curtis, Joy Division singer; Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit; Robin Day, furniture designer; Lucienne Day, textile designer; Francis Bacon; Roald Dahl; Alfred Hitchcock; Lucian Freud; Kate Moss; Paul Weller, rock musician; Tom Stoppard; Danny Boyle, film director; Mick Jagger; Fanny Cradock, TV cook; Michael Chow, restaurateur; Sir David Chipperfield, architect; Harold Pinter; David Bailey; Mary Quant; Anish Kapoor, sculptor; J.K. Rowling; J.R.R. Tolkien; Robyn Hitchcock, musician; Terence Conran; John Peel, DJ; Martin Parr, photographer; Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of World Wide Web; John Hurt; Rick Stein; Jonathan Ive, Apple designer; David Lean, film director; David Attenborough; Bridget Riley, painter; Terence Rattigan, playwright; Richard Curtis, comedy film writer/director; Tommy Steele; Mark Hix, restaurateur; Vidal Sassoon; Ridley Scott, film director; Justin de Villeneuve, Twiggy’s ex-manager; Norman Foster, architect; Peter Saville, graphic designer; Tracey Emin; Paul McCartney; Gavin Turk, artist; Barbara Hulanicki, fashion designer; Agatha Christie; Delia Smith; David Bowie; Twiggy; Audrey Hepburn; Gary Oldman, actor; Damien Hirst; Stella McCartney, fashion designer; Mary McCartney, photographer; Alexander McQueen, fashion designer; Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer; Helen Mirren; Grayson Perry, artist; Wreckless Eric, rock singer; David Hockney; Eric Clapton; Ian Dury, singer; Elton John; Chris Corbin, restaurateur; Jeremy King, restaurateur; Shirley Bassey; Noel Gallagher, rock musician; Richard Rogers, architect; Elvis Costello, rock musician; Peter Blake; Liberty, Rose and Daisy Blake (daughters of Sir Peter); Chrissy Blake (Sir Peter’s second wife); Foot from Monty Python animations.

Ray Connolly’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Ray Connolly wrote for the Daily Mail in The Beatles heyday and has written extensively on The Beatles. He wrote an article on Peter Blake’s 2012 version and suggested his own:

The Scotsman, 2012 “Edinburgh version”

The Scotsman celebrated the interest in 2012 with an Edinburgh version based around The Bay City Rollers

Record Collector Cartoon, Jon and Simon Horner

Record Collector, 400th Issue, April 2012

Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

It was many years ago today!
In a galaxy so far away
It’s a period of Civil War
They don’t want The Empire anymore

This is a recording from 2017 by Palette-Swap Ninja, a San Francisco Bay Area comedy covers band, in which they tell the story of Star Wars with pastiches of Sgt Pepper:

Dan Amrich / Jude Kelly: This whole project comes from a place of deep love and respect, so we had to take the time to do it justice. The final album needed to be high quality, accurate, and entertaining on repeat listenings. Once we settled on merging A New Hope with Sgt. Pepper’s, we completely committed ourselves to turning these two sacred cows into the ultimate double cheeseburger.”
The parody mashup comes as Sgt. Pepper’s celebrates its 50th anniversary and Star Wars celebrates its 40th. The Beatles’ album was released June 1, 1967, while Star Wars premiered on May 25, 1977.
Robin Hilton, NPR 50 Online

Downloadable CD sleeves, 2017

The title track is online with track two With Illicit Help From Their Friends, and it’s fabulous, but there’s no sign of the album on The podcast is on iTunes. However, you can download it for free from palette-swap ninja’s own website. You can find it on YouTube a track at a time. There’s even a live version:

It’s very well done, Bootleg Beatles levels, down to the right vocal styles. I prefer the Big Daddy pastiche, in that this doesn’t play with the songs at all, just adds new and very funny Star Wars lyrics.

The books

Filling in the crowd is irresistible. The books follow the imagery.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today: Derek Taylor, Bantam 1987
Summer of Love- The Making of Sgt Pepper: George Martin, Macmillan 1994
The Act You’ve Known For All These Years: Clinton Heylin, Canongate 2007

Comic books

There are dozens of parodies.


1 thought on “Art of the LP: Sergeant Pepper

  1. Brilliant article, outstanding illustrations. I learned much from the article and the illustrations. I remember how you told your readers how this website grew out of a planned book on record collecting. The art section on ‘Around and Around’ is surely enhanced because of the website format. Really enjoyed the writing, illustrations and approach. Great work. Thanks, Peter.


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