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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 26 May 1967
Recorded November 1966–April 1967
Studio EMI Studios and Regent Sound, London
Genre Psychedelic rock • pop rock • art rock
Length 39:52
Label ParlophoneCapitol
Producer George Martin
Album Guide
Magical Mystery Tour

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band The Beatles. It was first released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom by Parlophone and on 2 June in the United States by Capitol Records. After the band permanently retired from touring in August 1966, member Paul McCartney suggested an idea for a song involving an Edwardian military band that ultimately formed the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. After recording sessions began in November, he later suggested the band release an entire album representing a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This would give the Beatles freedom to experiment musically, and as a result, they furthered the technological progression they had made with their previous album Revolver (1966).

Knowing they would not have to perform new songs live, the band adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording. Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick helped realise their ideas by approaching the studio as an instrument, applying orchestral overdubs, sound effects, and other methods of tape manipulation. An important work of British psychedelia, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, the avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music. Its iconic cover photo, depicting the band in their Sgt. Pepper personas posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

Upon its initial release, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard Top LPs chart. It was lauded by critics for its innovation in production, songwriting, and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. The album is often regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the use of extended form while continuing the artistic maturation of earlier Beatles records; it is also credited with aiding in the development of progressive rock, and marking the beginning of the album era.


The album project had originally been titled Dr. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but after it was discovered that Dr. Pepper would form a lawsuit, The Beatles changed the title to Sgt. Pepper's. Since the album was recorded after the band stopped touring, its songs were each designed so that they could not be played live. From that point on, the Beatles became an entirely studio-based band. For the first time in their careers, they had more than ample time with which to prepare their next record. As EMI's premier act and Britain's most successful pop group, they had almost unlimited access to the state-of-the-art technology of Abbey Road Studios. All four band members had already developed a preference for long, late-night sessions, although they were still extremely efficient and highly disciplined in their studio habits. All of the Beatles experimented with new sounds while recording the album, so each song is very different. It is rumored that drugs took a big part while the band was making the album. The song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was said to be about LSD, but John Lennon denied this, claiming it was about a drawing his son Julian Lennon had drawn.


Since the introduction of magnetic recording tape in 1949, multitrack recording had been developed. By 1967, all of the Sgt. Pepper tracks could be recorded at Abbey Road using mono, stereo, and 4-track recorders. Although 8-track tape recorders were already available in the U.S., the first 8-tracks were not operational in commercial studios in London until late 1967, shortly after Sgt. Pepper was released. In retrospect, the limitations of EMI's studio technology most likely pushed the Beatles and their production staff to be more inventive and resourceful than they otherwise would have been. The Beatles also used new modular effects units such as the wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox, which they augmented with their own experimental ideas, such as running voices and instruments through a Leslie speaker. Another important sonic innovation was McCartney's discovery of the direct input (DI) technique, in which he could record his bass by plugging it directly into an amplifying circuit in the recording console. Also important was varispeeding, the technique of recording various tracks on a multi-track tape at slightly different tape speeds. The Beatles use this effect extensively on their vocals in this period. The speeding up of vocals (also known as 'tweaking') also became a widespread technique in pop production. The Beatles also used the effect on portions of their backing tracks (as on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds") to give them a 'thicker' and more diffuse sound.


The album's closing track "A Day in the Life" includes the phrase "I'd love to turn you on". The BBC banned the song from airplay on the basis of this line, claiming it could "encourage a permissive attitude toward drug-taking". Both Lennon and McCartney denied any drug-related interpretation of the song at the time, although McCartney's later comments in The Beatles Anthology video regarding the writing of the lyric make it clear that the drug reference was indeed deliberate.

Album Cover[]

For the main article on this topic, see List of images on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The album cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most famous of all time. It was designed by Peter Blake and photographed by Michael Cooper. The Beatles each chose ten people they would like to perform in front of, and those chosen are displayed on the album cover. Two of John Lennon's picks, Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ, were rejected (this was only a few months after Lennon's Jesus statement) by EMI. Leo Gorcey was modelled and originally included to the left of Huntz Hall, but was subsequently removed when a fee of $400 was requested for the use of the actor's likeness. Mohandas Gandhi was modelled and originally included to the right of Lewis Carroll, but was subsequently removed. According to McCartney, "Gandhi also had to go because the head of EMI, Sir Joe Lockwood, said that in India they wouldn't allow the record to be printed".

Side One[]

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"[]

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a song credited to Lennon/McCartney. The song appears twice on the album: as the opening track and as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)", the penultimate track. As the title track, the lyrics introduce the fictional band which performs in the album.

"With A Little Help From My Friends"[]

With a Little Help from My Friends (originally titled A Little Help from My Friends) is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The song was written for and sung by Ringo Starr.

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"[]

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sung by John Lennon. Despite widespread suspicion that the title of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" contained a hidden reference to LSD, Lennon insisted that it was derived from a pastel drawing by his four-year-old son Julian. A hallucinatory chapter from Lewis Carroll's 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, a favourite of Lennon's, inspired the song's atmosphere.

"Getting Better"[]

Getting Better is a song written by Paul McCartney, with help from John Lennon, based on an original idea by McCartney. The song's music suggests optimism but some of the song's lyrics have a sinister theme. In this sense, it exaggerates the contrasting personas of the two most active songwriters in the group. In response to McCartney's line, "It's getting better all the time," Lennon replies, "It can't get no worse!"

"Fixing A Hole"[]

Fixing A Hole is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sung by Paul McCartney. Fixing a Hole deals with McCartney's desire to let his mind wander freely and to express his creativity without the burden of self-conscious insecurities.

"She's Leaving Home"[]

She's Leaving Home is a song, written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. McCartney wrote and sung the verse and Lennon the chorus. This was one of a handful of songs of the Beatles in which the members did not play any instruments. Others include Eleanor Rigby, Good Night and The Inner Light.

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"[]

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sung by John Lennon. The song, which was written by John Lennon, was inspired by a 19th century poster (about 1843), which he had found in an antique store in Surrey. Many of the elements in the song are based off of the poster. It is commonly believed that the line "And of course Henry the Horse dances the waltz" was a reference to the drug heroin (as both "henry" and "horse" are slang names for it); the original line on the poster referred to the horse as Zanthus. The real Mr. Kite was an all-round performer who worked with Panquo Fanque and Mr. J. Henderson, who was employed as a wire walker, trampolinist (somerset thrower, according to the poster) and clown.

Side Two[]

"Within You Without You"[]

Within You Without You is a song written by George Harrison. It features only Harrison and a group of uncredited Indian musicians, although producer George Martin arranged the string section, and Harrison and assistant Neil Aspinall played the tambura. It is the second of Harrison's songs to be explicitly influenced by Indian classical music, after "Love You To", and Harrison's only composition on Sgt. Pepper. "Within You Without You" was written on a harmonium at the house of long-time Beatles friend Klaus Voormann, while "there were lots of joints being smoked".

"When I'm Sixty-Four"[]

When I'm Sixty-Four is a love song by The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney (but credited Lennon/McCartney). It is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans of growing old together with her. Although the theme is about aging, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was sixteen. The Beatles used it in the early days as a song they could play when the amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. Both George Martin and Mark Lewisohn speculated that McCartney may have thought of the song when recording began for Sgt. Pepper in December 1966 because his father turned 64 earlier that year.

"Lovely Rita"[]

Lovely Rita is a another love song by Lennon/McCartney and sung by Paul McCartney. It is about a female traffic warden and the narrator's affection for her. The term, "meter-maid", is American slang for a female traffic warden, who are now officially known by the less gender-specific parking attendant, and was largely unknown in the UK prior to the song's release. The song plays an important role in the Paul is Dead theory that occurred during The Beatles fame, as the song figures in the hoax because McCartney was distracted by Rita while driving, and led to the car crash that ended his life. In truth, the song emanates from when McCartney was issued with a parking ticket outside Abbey Road Studios , by a female traffic warden named Meta Davis. Instead of becoming angry, he accepted it with good grace and expressed his feelings (sarcastically) in song. When asked why he had called her "Rita", McCartney replied: "Well, she looked like a Rita to me".

"Good Morning Good Morning"[]

Good Morning Good Morning is a song composed by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney). Inspiration for the song came to Lennon from a television commercial for Kellogg's Corn Flakes. The jingle went: "Good morning, good morning, The best to you each morning, Sunshine Breakfast, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Crisp and full of fun". The line "It's time for tea and Meet the Wife" refers to a BBC sitcom Meet the Wife.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"[]

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) is a repeat of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at a faster tempo with heavier instrumentation. While the opening track stays largely in the key of G major (except for transient modulation to F and perhaps C in the bridges), the reprise starts in F and modulates back to G. The track opens with a distorted guitar strumming a "Hendrix chord" (dominant 7th sharp 9). McCartney counts 1..2..3..4, and between 2 and 3, Lennon jokingly adds, "Bye!". The idea for a reprise was Aspinall's , who thought that as there was a "welcome song", there should be a "goodbye song". The song contains the same melody as the opening version, but with different lyrics. At 1:18, it is one of The Beatles ' shorter songs (the shortest is "Her Majesty" at 0:23). The reprise was recorded on 1 April 1967, two months after the version that opens the album. At the end of the track, Martin's pre-recorded applause sample segues into the final track of the album, "A Day in the Life".

"A Day in the Life"[]

A Day in the Life is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The song is composed of several sections written separately by Lennon and McCartney, unified by orchestral crescendos and ending with a sustain piano chord. These changes were mostly made in the studio, supervised by most of the Beatles. The song is an iconic song in the Beatles' catalog, being covered by several artists. It was ranked 24th in Rolling Stone's The Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Though many believe the first verse was referring to the death of Tara Browne, a young London socialite who was also from a noble Irish family and heir to the Guinness beer fortune, whose recent death in a car crash had been reported in the newspaper, George Martin has said that this was a drug reference. The line "I'd love to turn you on" is often believed to be a drug reference with no relation to the rest of the song. In interviews John Lennon has said that the car crash was the primary inspiration for this song. The last verse about potholes was originally about a newspaper article talking about how the road to the Albert Hall was full of potholes. However, he couldn't figure out how to connect "Now they know how many holes" and "Albert Hall", so Lennon's friend Terry Doran suggested the word "fill". The middle section about an uneventful morning was contributed by McCartney. The line "I'd love to turn you on" was also contributed by McCartney. In an interview, Lennon said that that one line that was the supposed drug reference was just a random line that McCartney contributed that had nothing to do with the rest of the song.


All songs written by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted otherwise.

Side one[]

  1. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" – 2:04
  2. "With a Little Help from My Friends" – 2:46
  3. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" – 3:30
  4. "Getting Better" – 2:49
  5. "Fixing a Hole" – 2:38
  6. "She's Leaving Home" – 3:37
  7. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" – 2:37

Total Length (19:34)

Side two[]

  1. "Within You Without You" (George Harrison) – 5:07
  2. "When I'm Sixty-Four" – 2:38
  3. "Lovely Rita" – 2:43
  4. "Good Morning Good Morning" – 2:41
  5. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" – 1:20
  6. "A Day in the Life" – 5:33

Total Length (20:02)

Note: There were also four songs recorded during the making of this album: Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane (both released on a single), Only a Northern Song (remixed one and a half years later on Yellow Submarine) and the as-yet unreleased Carnival of Light.


  • Won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, Contemporary Album and Best Album Cover.
  • Nominated for Best Group Vocal Performance, Best Contemporary Vocal Group and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for "A Day in the Life."


  • John Lennon — Lead, Harmony, and Backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino, 1961 Fender Stratocaster), Acoustic Guitar (1964 Gibson J-160E), Piano, Hammond Organ, Cowbell, Harmonica, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo, Tape Loops and Handclaps
  • Paul McCartney — Lead, Harmony, and Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino, 1964 Fender Esquire), Piano (electric and acoustic), Hammond and Lowrey Organ, Clavichord, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo and Handclaps
  • George Harrison — Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar (1961 Fender Stratocaster, 1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Acoustic Guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E), Sitar, Tambura, Hammond Organ, Harmonica, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo and Handclaps
  • Ringo Starr — Lead Vocals, Drums, Tambourine, Maracas, Congas, Chimes, Piano and Handclaps
  • George Martin — producer and mixer, harpsichord, Hammond and Lowrey organ, harmonium, piano (electric and acoustic) and glockenspiel
  • Geoff Emerick — recording engineer
  • Mal Evans — bass harmonica and piano
  • Neil Aspinall — tambura and harmonica
  • James Buck — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • Neil Sanders — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • Tony Randall — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • John Burden — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • Erich Gruenberg — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Derek Jacobs — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Trevor Williams — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Jose Luis García — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • John Underwood — viola on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Stephen Shingles — viola on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Dennis Vigay — cello on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Alan Dalziel — cello on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Gordon Pearce — double bass on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Sheila Bromberg — harp on "She's Leaving Home"
  • V. Lankshwarna — swarmandal on "Within You Without You"
  • Shambu-Das — dilruba on "Within You Without You"
  • Ravi Shankar — dilruba and sitar on "Within You Without You"
  • Erich Gruenberg — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Alan Loveday — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Julien Gaillard — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Paul Scherman — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Ralph Elman — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • David Wolfsthal — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Jack Rothstein — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Jack Greene — violin on "Within You Without You"
  • Reginald Kilbey — cello on "Within You Without You"
  • Allen Ford — cello on "Within You Without You"
  • Peter Beavan — cello on "Within You Without You"
  • Robert Burns — clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Henry Mackenzie — clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "A Day in the Life"
  • Frank Reidy — bass clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four"
  • Barrie Cameron — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
  • David Glyde — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
  • lan Holmes — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
  • John Lee — horn on "Good Morning Good Morning"

External links[]