Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The origins of Sgt Pepper

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During The Beatles' final US tour in August 1966, Paul McCartney noticed the inventive names adopted by many new bands.

Sgt Pepper is Paul, after a trip to America and the whole West Coast, long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer The Beatles or The Crickets - they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for The Beatles.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

In November 1966 McCartney and Mal Evans spent time travelling around France. From there they journeyed on to Madrid, Rome and then Nairobi, Kenya, where they were joined by Jane Asher.

The genesis of Sgt Pepper came during their return flight from Kenya to London on 19 November 1966. Unable to sleep on the overnight journey, McCartney toyed with the idea of creating a new identity for The Beatles, to allow them to experiment and display their maturity to their audience.

We were fed up with being the 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 any more, plus, we'd now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers. There was now more to it; not only had John and I been writing, George had been writing, we'd been in films, John had written books, so it was natural that we should become artists.

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. What would really be interesting would be to actually take on the personas of this different band. We could say, 'How would somebody else sing this? He might approach it a bit more sarcastically, perhaps.' So I had this idea of giving the Beatles alter egos simply to get a different approach; then when John came up to the microphone or I did, it wouldn't be John or Paul singing, it would be the members of this band. It would be a freeing element. I thought we can run this philosophy through the whole album: with this alter-ego band, it won't be us making all that sound, it won't be the Beatles, it'll be this other band, so we'll be able to lose our identities in this.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The title came from a conversation between McCartney and Evans about the sachets marked S and P which came with their in-flight meals.

Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, 'Think of names.' We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked 'S' and 'P'. Mal said, 'What's that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.' We had a joke about that. So I said, 'Sergeant Pepper,' just to vary it, 'Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,' an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.

Then, 'Lonely Hearts Club', that's a good one. There's lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. All that culture of the sixties going back to those travelling medicine men, Gypsies, it echoed back to the previous century really. I just fantasised, well, 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. That'd be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band? If it had been Sergeant Pepper's British Legion Band, that's more understandable. The idea was to be a little more funky, that's what everybody was doing. That was the fashion. The idea was just take any words that would flow. I wanted a string of those things because I thought that would be a natty idea instead of a catchy title. People would have to say, 'What?' We'd had quite a few pun titles - Rubber Soul, Revolver - so this was to get away from all that.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Although the idea was well received by the other Beatles, it wasn't intended as a concept album; indeed, an early working title was One Down, Six To Go, a reference to their contract with EMI.

As I read the other day, he said in one of his 'fanzine' interviews that he was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public - and so there was this identity of Sgt Pepper. Intellectually, that's the same thing he did by writing 'He loves you' instead of 'I love you'. That's just his way of working. Sgt Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn't go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt Pepper and his band; but it works 'cause we said it worked, and that's how the album appeared. But it was not as put together as it sounds, except for Sgt Pepper introducing Billy Shears and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

For perhaps the first time, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band saw Paul McCartney emerging as the creative leader of The Beatles. There was, however, a strong feeling of collective creativity among the group, with a concerted push to achieve something special.

This creativity occasionally caused problems for The Beatles. Impatient to record She's Leaving Home, McCartney asked freelance arranger Mike Leander to write the string section as George Martin was temporarily unavailable.

It was just one of those silly things. He was so damned impatient and I was up to my eyes with other work and I just couldn't cope. But Paul realises now, though he was surprised that I was upset.
George Martin
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

At the time John Lennon was at the height of his extended dalliance with LSD, although he did play a key role in a number of songs - not least A Day In The Life, which is widely held to be among The Beatles' finest works.

It was a peak, and Paul and I definitely were working together, especially on A Day In The Life... I don't care about the whole concept of Pepper. It might be better, but the music is better for me on the double album, because I'm being meself on it... I felt more at ease with that than the production. I don't like production so much, but Pepper was a peak, all right.
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

90 responses on “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

  1. Julio

    If you think about it, Pepper is the beginning of the end. They are not playing or working together as group. Paul’s solo album, although the minimal contributions from John are what give the album weight and soul. George contributes very little to this album except for of course his masterpiece “within and within out you.” Paul plays most of the led guitar. Let it be ,which is always seen as the band falling apart actually has them playing as a unit.It is nice to seem them play on the roof.

      1. Julio

        Yes, Paul’s solo album. He wrote the majority of the songs and contributed greatly to Jonn’s 4 songs. It was Paul who came up with the great intro melody to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, instructed John on the vocal phrasing, wrote half of the lyrics, plays great the melodic base throughout. WIthout Paul, Lucy just does not work. His contributions to Day in the Life are well documented, conducted orchestra, plays the ever essential piano and base part, not to mention the middle eight, and instructed Ringo’s great drum fills. He plays all of the lead guitar solos with exception of fixing a hole. Pepper was Paul’s dream, that is why the others hate it so much. John was jealous for the attention it got, George was never really involved (his heart was in India) and Ringo was bore out of his mind (learned how to play chess).

          1. Julio

            For starters read Emmerick’s book, and Barry Miles’ book. If you are not a reader just watch anthology and listen to how john, george, ringo do not speak very fondly about pepper but paul loves it.

            1. Mbook

              I think if anything Julio’s comments are unflattering toward Paul more than toward the others. They’re also accurate according to everything I’ve read about this album, inluding the above article on this site.

            2. alex

              it really is ridiculous and stupid to call an album where Ringo has his best vocal and drum performances, George has a great song and John has more than 2 of the most revolutionary classics, a Paul solo album. they didn’t speak very fondly of making the White Album either and Paul still loves that one and that’s not a solo album by any means. I see what you’re doing you’re trying to be controversial but the fact is your little dumb theory doesn’t hold up against the facts .you have to exclude a bunch of real things that happened to make your little idea hold up. Sorry buddy

              1. Joseph Scott

                “they didn’t speak very fondly of making the White Album either” That’s kind of a myth that going in the Beatles books over the years, more than what they actually said.

        1. chucky

          You forget to precise that Ringo said concerning Sgt.Pepper’s : ” We done a great album”

          (he never said: it’s a great album of Paul)

          Because one day Ringo said, he learned how to play chess, some people tries to pretend to be experts. So, they said : “Hey, i’m a specialist, I discovered something. Sgt.Pepper’s, it’s not an album of The Beatles, it’s an album of Paul McCartney. Do you want a evidence? Ringo said he learned how to play chess.
          So it’s the evidence that he didn’t participate to the sessions of Sgt.Pepper’s”

        2. EltonJohnLennon

          I think you’re wrong. Yes, Paul wrote the majority of the song but John also contributed something to his songs (“Getting Better” and “She’s Leaving Home”). And who wrote the intro of Lucy in the Sky? It was John. Doesn’t matter if Paul played it. I don’t think he has anything to do with this song. He is the only one who says that he wrote it together with John.

          1. sebastian mora

            Lennon sais this in his Rolling stone interview 1970:

            Jann WENNER (journalist):
            “There are no “newspaper taxis.”
            Actually, that’s Paul’s line.


            So Mccartney was telling the truth.

            In fact, lucy in the sky authorship was one the reasons why McCartney decided to release the book many years from now:


            I think Paul’s opinion about who wrote lucy in the sky is as important as lennon´s, and more important than anybody else opinions. He was there, he was half of the writing team, not you or any “beatles expert”.

            Ps: Paul helped in mr kite and co wrote A day in the life.

              1. Sebastian Mora

                Playboy interview 1984


                PLAYBOY: “‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’?

                Paul: “That was taken directly off a poster John had. A circus poster.WE stretched it a bit.”

                Taken from the book Paul McCartney Many years from no:

                PAUL: ‘Mr Kite’ was a poster that John had in his house in Weybridge. I arrived there for a session one day and he had it up on the wall in his living room. It was all there, the trampoline, the somersets, the hoops, the garters, the horse. It was Pablo Fanque’s fair, and it said ‘being for the benefit of Mr Kite'; almost the whole song was written right off this poster. We just sat down and wrote it. We pretty much took it down word for word and then just made up some little bits and pieces to glue it together. It was more John’s because it was his poster so he ended up singing it, but it was quite a co-written song. We were both sitting there to write it at his house, just looking at it on the wall in the living room. But that was nice, it wrote itself very easily. Later George Martin put a fairground sound on it.


                Some extra, info about paul´s contribution to Lucy… :

                Confusion over Paul’s work in the Beatles sometimes extends to the Inner Circle. Paul even had to assure George Martin that he had co-written ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. ‘I remember going to John’s house and him showing me Julian’s drawing [from school], and John saying: “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Good title, eh?” And we wrote it: it’s John and me doing something like a Lewis Carroll. Now, John will have told George Martin that he had this great new song. He won’t have told him: “Hey, yesterday Paul came to my house and we wrote it together.” You don’t. You just say: “I’ve got this new one.” George would say: “Super, John, it’s lovely.” And he would assume it’s John’s song. In a recent book by George [Martin] it very nearly went down as one of John’s solo compositions. So I find myself these days trying to fight for some of the credit, particularly because John’s died in such crazy circumstances.’

                Taken from the book Paul McCartney Yesterday and Today by Ray Coleman.


                Taken from the book Paul McCartney Many years from now:

                PAUL: I went up to John’s house in Weybridge. When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, ‘Look at this great drawing Julian’s done. Look at the title!’ He showed me a drawing on school paper, a five-by-seven-inch piece of paper, of a little girl with lots of stars, and right across the top there was written, in very neat child handwriting, I think in pencil, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. So I said, ‘What’s that mean?’, thinking, Wow, fantastic title! John said, ‘It’s Lucy, a friend of his from school. And she’s in the sky.’ Julian had drawn stars, and then he thought they were diamonds. They were child’s stars, there’s a way to draw them with two triangles, but he said diamonds because they can be interpreted as diamonds or stars. And we loved it and she was in the sky and it was very trippy to us. So we went upstairs and started writing it. People later thought ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was LSD. I swear we didn’t notice that when it came out, in actual fact, if you want to be pedantic you’d have to say it is LITSWD, but of course LSD is a better story.

                PAUL: John had the title and he had the first verse. It started off very Alice in Wonderland: ‘Picture yourself in a boat, on a river …’ It’s very Alice. Both of us had read the Alice books and always referred to them, we were always talking about ‘Jabber-wocky’ and we knew those more than any other books really. And when psychedelics came in, the heady quality of them was perfect. So we just went along with it. I sat there and wrote it with him: I offered ‘cellophane flowers’ and ‘newspaper taxis’ and John replied with ‘kaleidoscope eyes’. I remember which was which because we traded words off each other, as we always did … And in our mind it was an Alice thing, which both of us loved.

              2. Sebastian Mora

                “It seems as though Paul waited until after December 8, 1980 to “set the record straight”.”

                Well, only after december 8 1980, “beatles experts” began to write thousands books about “who wrote what” in The beatles, and spread the word that lennon was god, and paul just a lucky guy who met him. They didnt ask Paul about his version, so he released his semi autobiography Many years from now, after eighteen years of taking shit from people like you that dont believe him, because dont want to hear something that is obvious: Mccartney contributed to Lennon´s beatles stuff, just as john contributed paul´s.
                In the 70´s, Paul didnt need to set the record straigth, the lennon myth didnt exist, and paul was by far the most successful and popular ex beatle, even if he wasnt the critics ´s fave.
                If you need to hear again paul´s explanation why he need to set the record straight after Lennon´s dead, go again to to

        3. Don

          Since there are references in this trail to Anthology as the source that Ringo, John, and George hated Pepper I would point out that that is not correct. If you really examine Anthology what you find is that each Paul, George, and Ringo specifically expressed “favorite” Beatles albums. To wit; Ringo – “I loved the White Album”. George – “Rubber soul and Revolver were very happy records and could have been 1″, Paul was clearly deferrent to Pepper, and interestingly John seemed to be partial to the good points in all of the albums…

        4. the real sgt pepper

          Although it isnt a personel favourite of mine. i do feel that it was a passing phase of the beatles. the other beatles seem quite compliant toward the album, as if on musical Auto was like handing the keys to paul and seeing what he could do. but still keeping him in check.

    1. Joseph Brush

      Sgt. Pepper was a time of cooperation from everyone in the group.
      There were no walkouts, or bickering for Pepper as there was in the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.
      Paul’s quantity of songs doesn’t equal John (and George’s) quality of songs.
      As for Paul playing most of the lead guitar, according to you, check each guitar track for each song on this site!

    2. chucky

      1 – ” They are not playing or working together as group.”


      Totally wrong : Every days together (except Sundays) for 4 consecutive months!

      George contributes very little to this album except for of course his masterpiece “within and within out you.”



      1 – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band : Vocals, Guitar

      2- With A Little Help From My Friends : Lead Guitar

      3 – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds : Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambura

      4 – Getting Better : Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar, Tambura

      5 – Fixing A Hole : Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar

      6 – Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! : Harmonica

      7 – Within You Without You : Vocals, Sitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambura

      8 – When I’m Sixty-Four : Backing Vocals

      9 – Lovely Rita : Backing Vocals, Electric Slide Guitar, Acoustic Rhythm Guitar, Comb and Paper

      10 – Good Morning Good Morning : Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar

      11 – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) : Vocals, Lead guitar

      12 – A Day In The Life : Maracas

      Like you see, George played on 11 songs and he sing on 9 songs

      He composed only one songs?

      If you listen Led Zeppelin, all the songs was credited ” Jimmy Page/Robert Plant”

      So, if you consider ” George contributes very little to this album ” because he composed one song, so we can say that John Bonham and John Paul Jones was absent on albums of Led Zeppelin.

      Like “Led Zeppelin IV” is an album of Led Zeppelin (and not an album of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant), Sgt.Pepper’s is an album of The Beatles ( and not an album of Lennon/McCartney)

      Sgt.Pepper’s is an album of The Beatles.

        1. alex

          first of all you said Paul solo album not Paul dominant I like how youre changing your story it’s very pathetic I also like how you play out the smallest example of georges contributions. By the way those maracas are actually kind of iconic in the song. so you can keep sliding down your little mountain pathetically ;-)

    3. LOMAN

      I’ve heard people say that same bull about Abbey Road…”Paul’s album”. I would remind you that these are both Beatles albums! Just because Paul cared more towards the end and put forth greater effort in the recording and production of said albums does not make them his albums. To state that as fact you downplay the importance of songs like “Lucy in the Sky…” and “For the Benefit..” on Sgt. Pepper’s and songs like “Come Together” and “I Wany You (She’s So Heavy)” on Abbey Road. I know that that second side of Abbey Road was Paul’s conception and really was his creation, but it would not have been worth s#!t without the “Sun King”/Mr.Mustard”/”Pam” section…all songs by Lennon.
      p.s. I do think they should have included “Only a Northern Song” on Sgt. Pepper!

      1. George Demake

        Are you kidding me?
        Only a Northern song is perhaps the most unimaginative song George ever wrote. Why do you think it was relegated to the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack, along with “Its All too Much”?

    4. Frank

      Paul’s solo album. Except ringo sings lead on With a little help from my friends, one of the best song of pepper. John sings lead and wrote Lucy in the sky, mr kite, good morning good morning and is the centrepiece of a day in the life, the greatest song of all time. Not to mention Within You Without You, which Paul doesn’t even play on. It can’t be a Paul solo album if there’s a song without Paul now can it Julio.

  2. Elsewhere Man

    When did it become fashionable to downplay Sgt. Pepper? I agree with the common belief these days that Revolver is a better group effort and their best album overall but that doesn’t take away from the greatness of Pepper. It’s still a stunning masterpiece…

    1. Julio

      I love the album too. I just think that it is interesting to view it as such a pinnacle for the group when it is more of a Mccartney solo album. I prefer the white album, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road over Pepper. But don’t get me wrong I love em all, I am a Beatle nut!

  3. Joseph Brush

    Barry Miles has been close to Paul since mid-1960’s.
    Many Years From Now gives Paul credit for every innovation by the Beatles.
    This McCartney-acolyte labels John as a “manoeuvring swine”.
    It reads more like a press kit than an objective book.

    1. paulsbass

      How can you call Pepper “John’s album”??
      According to people working with the Beatles in the studio Lennon was extremely little interested in working on the songs, even his own!

      Paul’s bass lines in all of Lennon’s (few) songs are amazing, as is his guitar solo in “Good morning”, as is the intro to “Lucy”, as is his incredible piano part in “A day in the life”. Many great aspects about John’s song were accomplished by the arrangements of George Martin (animals, Mr. Kite’s crazy organ, orchestra on “A day in the life, supported by Paul etc.)

      He was the driving force behind the album. I still wouldn’t call it his “solo” album, since it was the four of them that made The Beatles so legendary. And of course the others contributed greatly. Imagine George Harrison NOT bringing up his sworde-mandel or the tambura! Imagine Ringo NOT doing “With a little help” and all this wonderful drums. Imagine John doing NOT those fantastic vocals on “A day in the life” or the greece choir part on “She’s leaving home”. It was still an excellent group effort.

      But it should be still obvious that Paul was the major force, writing most of the songs, playing all those essential musical parts, being involved and interested in the production the most.

      1. EltonJohnLennon

        The animal sounds on “Good Morning” were Johns idea. And the orchestral arrangement on “A Day in the Life” was created collaboratively by George Martin, John Lennon and Paul McCarntey.

      2. GniknuS

        You McCartney fans are nuts, yes we get it, Paul is a musical god and without him the Beatles would have been less successful than a Ringo-less Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Paul’s album? If you believe that the intro and reprise, Fixing a Hole, Getting Better and Lovely Rita “make” this album great, then so be it, but I’ve never seen those songs as more than filler. Great and inventive filler, but still not exactly great songs. She’s Leaving Home is jaw droppingly beautiful but the best songs, to me at least, are Lucy in the Sky and A Day in the Life, and while A Day in the Life was obviously a collaborative effort, there’s no question as to who’s part is more monumental and awe inspiring. I don’t think anyone’s trying to take anything away from Paul, but saying this is a solo McCartney album is laughable.

        1. paulsbass

          So who called it Paul’s “solo album”???
          I surely didn’t!
          Please re-read my posting where I explicitly said the excact opposite.
          Also re-read the parts where I described Macca’s influence on your favourite songs.

  4. Matt Elwood

    Probably the most overrated album in history!

    Sgt Pepper/Reprise
    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    A Day In The Life
    Shes Leaving Home
    Lovely Rita

    Are the best songs on that album, Is it better than Rubber Soul/Revolver/The White Album for Me it isn’t, It made a large impact because of the feel of it within the physchedelic era of the 60’s plus it soothes alot of ego’s for the McCartney fanbase (By the way Im a fan of Paul its just some people try to take away credit from the John, George, Ringo on this album even though A Day In The Life is probably the greatest Beatle’s song of all time and its mainly a Lennon composition)

  5. EltonJohnLennon

    This is a really good album. But it’s not the best Beatles album. There are a lot of good songs on it but there is just one real masterpiece: “A Day in the Life”.

    Paul may have written the majority of the songs but the most famous songs on this album are “A Day in the Life” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. And both are generally seen as Lennon compositions.

  6. Joseph Brush

    Yes indeed, Pepper is not the best Beatles album!
    My favourite feature of Pepper are the backing vocals and/or the responses (Greek chorus if you will).
    As well as the two tracks mentioned above I still enjoy:
    Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite, She’s Leaving Home, Good Morning, Good Morning and Within You, Without You.
    The rest I skip over most of the time I play Pepper.

  7. beatleKen

    It was John and Paul’s album mainly, George wasnt very interested in it,nor Ringo. AND Paul did play most of the lead guitar parts. BUT ITS STILL THE BEATLES

  8. Whatever

    In my opinion, it is Paul’s album because he dominates it. His ideas were made for this album. John’s songs could have gone to any other album and the same happens to George.

    However, I don’t see it as a flawless album because Paul successfully fails. Paul was incredibly influenced by Pet Sounds and it is obvious in certain songs but I don’t see him winning. Furthermore, I see that Paul’s songs were an attempt to be better than John’s but he also loses. For example, “Penny Lane” is not even close to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “She’s Leaving Home” was a nice try but “A Day In The Life” also wins. They both have the same origins and, when it is put in that way, Lennon’s mind wins without a doubt.

    PS: I love The Beatles and I love Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band since they both were an icon of society’s ideas and beliefs. In this post, I just made negative observations towards Paul since he is getting too much feedback for this album here (there and everywhere).

    Also, this idea of John hating the album kind of makes sense because, really, he always seems a little disappointed that the band went there in the psychedelic area. He is always so cold about that album and it’s understandable since he is really into Rock’n’Roll. Not to mention how George and Ringo were there physically but, mentally, they were somewhere else.

    “People had this dream about Pepper and it was good for them.” (John Lennon)

    1. GniknuS

      Let’s be honest about it, if John had a few more songs on the album, he probably would have liked it a bit more. Maybe Pepper is a myth, who knows? I was told growing up that it was the best Beatles album and I’m still told it now by Rolling Stone and others, but I don’t personally believe that and I don’t think many others consider it better than Revolver.

    2. paulsbass

      I can’t know for sure, but I guess John “hated” it (IF he did) because he didn’t take part in it as much as Paul – he was high most of the time and frustrated with his private life: while Paul was taking part actively in Swinging London John buried himself in suburbia in front of the TV (Good morning). As you said, he was mentally somewhere else.
      Personally I think Penny Lane is as good as Strawberry Fields, under different aspects. Funny how you claim John disliked psychedelic music while SF is one of their most psychedelic songs…
      It’s not fair to compare She’s leaving home and A day in the life. Completely different cups of tea.
      And don’t forget Paul contributed sooooo much to ADITL, that without him it would have remained a haunting folky-kind-song.

      Did Paul succeed with taking The Beatles to another level of creative energy and artistical achievement? Yes, obviously.
      If the album is lacking something, it’s because John didn’t contribute as much as he used to, so Paul had to do many things alone.
      Maybe that’s why parts of the album may sound too sweet.

      It’s still a masterpiece, working best as a unit.

      1. GniknuS

        I don’t think anyone really believes that John didn’t like psychadelic music, maybe he claimed in 1970 that he didn’t, but in ’67 he was as psychadelic as anyone with SFF and Walrus. Also, look at #9 Dream from the album Walls and Bridges that he recorded on his lost weekend. Now, who is the key factor missing from both of those times?
        John also never said he hated the album, in fact he called it their “peak” in his Rolling Stone interview. Pepper was Paul’s album, but I just can’t stand it when people claim that Paul helped John’s music more than John helped Paul’s. Let’s compare the music each made directly after the breakup, John certainly had no issue with his writing as his most revealing and honest songs were on the Plastic Ono Band album. Paul, on the other hand, was writing about, what, the backseat of his car? How profound.
        Granted, Paul is a better bass player than John is guitar player and Paul may help shape the music better, but it really doesn’t matter how the music sounds if the lyrics and inspiration aren’t too great. So Paul helped make the music better, but John was more pivotal in the inspiration and creative spirit of the Beatles, does that sound like a fair assesment? Neither was necessarily “more important” because they played different roles.

  9. mr. Sun king coming together

    Consider the following
    Pepper Was the dream of Paul’s which John and George vastly improved with their contributions. Is A Hard Day’s Night a Lennon Solo album
    He majority-wrote 10 songs on that album, But it is a Beatles album
    Pepper is a beatles album
    Live with it

  10. Whatever

    Not that John didn’t like Psychedelic Music. He actually loved it.

    I think he kind of regreted it. He said drugs made him psychedelic as a lot of other people from his generation so we can say that this is not the John we knew, it’s an altered John. The original John is a Rock’n’Roll head.

    Also, I think he regreted it because it was the door for Paul’s empire. So Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band was the album who made Paul a second (for some people, the only) leader.

    So, John had this bad feelings about Pepper and whatnot but he loved it because it was a period. A ”peak” of contribution on the ideas, the instrumentals, the harmonies, everything. And of course, it gave a lot of money to them so there’s no reason to be sad about it.

    PS: A Hard Day’s Night is a John album, yes.
    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (and I guess Abbey Road) are Paul’s.

    Not because they are the ones who matter in the album, but because they were predominant not only in the ideas but also in the production.

    Magical Mystery Tour is a nice album for me, I like the crazyness and stuff but Paul is so defensive when he talks about this album. He had Pepper and he probably tried to push it further with Magical Mystery Tour but, at that time, a lot of people hated it. So, yeah, just pointing that out for you all.

    1. Cal

      They should’ve taken the songs from pepper and mmt and turned them into a double album. That would’ve been something. ADITL, Strawberry fields, penny lane, lucy in the sky, i am the walrus.

  11. George Demake

    Perhaps Paul’s energy played a greater role for the impetus of Sgt. Pepper, But I think this album needs to be appreciated as a whole and not simply by it’s individual parts. Sure, there may be better songs on other albums, but what was your impression when you saw that album cover when it first came out, or when you opened the gatefold and saw the beatles in those colorful costumes, not to mention the lyrics on the back. I know these don’t make for a great album on their own, but the songs are very good. I believe the album’s success is a result of the production, engineering and the willingness to take musical chances during a fairly primitive musical time in the British recording studio, where they were forced to be inventive and creative. To me the beatles have always been more than the four musicians themselves. Sure, John and Paul were the strong musical forces for most of the band’s tenure, but they were blessed with a classically trained producer who was able to translate their musical ideas into a cohesive musical form and engineers who were not afraid to push the musical envelope and work outside of the box. And on Pepper, the musical team really made it work. There was a definite magic that was created in the production of Pepper which give it it’s cohesiveness and continuity. That being said, they all contributed their musical ideas and input into the record, Paul’s guitar solos really punctuated the songs on which he added to, both his and John’s.John’s ” A Day in the Life” is one of the all-time greats of any musical genre, and George finally became the composer he is now known as with the creation of Within You Without You. Oh Yeah, Ringo ain’t so bad on the drums on this album either.

  12. Inner Light

    I just finished reading all the posts regarding this album and cannot believe how many posts there are claiming this is McCartney’s album. They were all very talented in their own way. Without all four of them participating during the Sgt. Pepper recording sessions this album would not sounded as good as it turned out.

    I am so tired of hearing Paul this and Paul that. They are all great songwriters and musicians. the Beatles are the Beatles and that is why their solo efforts will never measure up to the group efforts.

  13. Matheus Luque

    Guys, of course Paul´s contribuition on Sgt. Pepper´s is bigger than John´s, that is very clear. But John´s contribuition is great too, camon, A Day in the Life, the best song of the album, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, like John said to Rolling Stone magazine: “Paul and I were definitely working together”. That´s why Sgt. Pepper´s is the best album of all time, because it is the best of Lennon/McCartney, both great genius

  14. Victor

    Very good album…not the best though.
    and i think we have to make justice to “their satanic majesties request” from the stones…which is at least as good as sgt pepper’s…and very underrated

    1. George Demake

      “We” don’t have to make justice to “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, which is largely rubbish, the exceptions being “Shes a Rainbow”, 2000 Light Years and “Citadel”. A sad attempt from the “Stones” to cop their own Sgt. Pepper. I love “The Stones”, but even they wouldn’t agree with you on this one.

      1. Victor

        i didn’t want to start a fight here, because i know this is a kind of beatlemaniac website..and beatlemaniacs can be a little arrogant and ignorant.
        i love the beatles very much, but i’m not a deluded betlemaniac…and i don’t thing everyone else’s albuns are rubbish.
        in fact, the beatles did a lot of bad stuff too…even john would agree…read some of his interviews.
        i respect the beatles…and sgt peppers…i just said that some people overlook their satanic majesties just because of its cover…which is a mistake..

        1. Joe Post author

          OK, thanks for your comments. I don’t really want this page to be a Beatles v Stones discussion, just as I don’t want it to be swamped by ‘Paul’s album/group effort’ comments. Let’s keep this to Sgt Pepper chat. Feel free to use the Fab Forum to discuss further though.

  15. michael

    Sgt Pepper should have been a double album, with 4 songs on 4 sides, by adding the 2 songs that should have never been left off in the first place, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever. Then I would have called it the 2nd greatest rock album ever made… George Martin has even said that not leaving those 2 songs on the album was “the biggest mistake of my life”

    The Revolver album,should have had both Rain And Paperback Writer included.And perhaps And Your Bird Can Sing Taken off…Then, no other rock album would touch it…

  16. apple_jam

    Sgt. Pepper is one of the Beatles most collaborative albums. Sure, from Please Please Me to Rubber Soul they were laying down the basic tracks as a complete, 4-piece band on almost every track; however, those 1963-65 songs had less room for suggestions — i.e. they were simpler, more straight forward. On Sgt. Pepper they were all contributing their thoughts and ideas (yes, even Ringo — and Mal). As any musician – amateur or otherwise – knows, thoughts and ideas play a HUGE part in the creation of music. And thoughts and ideas are usually not documented.

  17. John without Paul

    Sgt. Peppers was Paul’s baby. Face it. Paul was the most comfortable being a 9am-5pm Beatle. Ringo was hardly involved because the percussion tracks were done at the very end. George saw Pepper as Paul’s project and only presented one Indian song since he was so steeped in the India vibe at the time. Paul spent hour upon hour alone with George Martin redoing and practicing the bass lines. John was distant and offered only a few songs.

    It was a steady daily job. Paul LOVED it. He loved having a steady studio job and a project to work on. It was a working model that fit him to a tee. The success of Pepper gave Paul the attitude that he had SAVED the band. This is where the clash of egos started with John. The success of Pepper gave Paul a tremendous amount of influence on their next project: Magical Mystery Tour. This was also Paul’s baby. Paul directed the movie too. It is the lowest point in the Beatles success arc.

    To his credit, Paul created, constructed and directed the making of Sgt. Peppers. The zenith of the Beatles. But also, it goes on the permanent record that the worst album and film by the Beatles was also a Paul project. He had the biggest high and the biggest low, back to back.

    The real group collaborations came several albums earlier.

    Those of you grousing because you want perfect group unity to fit your beautiful Sgt. Peppers model may as well give it up. Rubber Soul and Revolver and earlier are where the true group think exist.

  18. Long John Silver

    Paul wrote more songs in this album, yes, but, are they better? In my opinion, Lucy, Good Morning and Mr Kite are better than She´s leaving home or When I´m 64… and remember too that A day in the life was basically John´s idea… and George and Ringo were very important too in the album, George guitar playing is great and Within you without you is a fantastic song… and Ringo sings perfectly in With a little help… and his drumming in A day in the life are awesome. It´s true that Paul was the driving force in this album but if not for the other Beatles the album wouldn´t have been the same at all

  19. eddy

    Where is the great McCartney ballad? Revolver had “Here There and Everywhere”
    Rubber Soul had “Michelle” This album has nothing on that level, in fact there is no attempt at a ballad. I think in 1966 the Beatles were the most covered artists of the year, who covered these songs, Joe Cocker?

    1. George Demake

      How about “She’s Leaving Home”. Even if you don’t think that this one rates, the co-op vocal in between verses from John and Paul is still quite moving.
      Would have love to have heard Joe Cocker attempt “Eleanor Rigby” LOL.

    2. James

      She’s Leaving Home is pretty great…what I think is interesting is the dynamic between Lennon and McCartney from this period, where on the one hand you have John who, according to Cynthia, would spend his days zonked out watching TV or tripping on LSD, and you have Paul who had all of these ideas but still some of his songs weren’t necessarily great. I’m curious as to how this effort would have gone had they waited a bit longer to get it going, much like the White Album where there was that huge gap of time and so all of these songs were ready to go. But once John got back from filming How I Won the War and had Strawberry Fields ready to roll it must’ve been tough for the group not to go full steam ahead.
      Still I wonder if John would’ve had more time to get some stuff together if the album could’ve been a bit better from a songs perspective rather than being great more from a production perspective as I believe it is. I still believe John was the better songwriter at this time so that’s why I’m wondering what could have happened.

  20. GeorgeTSimpson

    On this album there are some really good songs (she’s leaving home, when i’m sixty four, lovely rita, getting better, fixing a hole, within you without you and lucy in the sky with diamonds) but I don’t like the other songs. It’s my 7th favourite album, i prefer the later albums (but yellow submarine) and the two albums before (abbey road is my favourite beatles album)

  21. Joe Cogan

    I’ve always read that Sgt. Pepper took 700 hours to record, as opposed to the 400 mentioned in the article. Also, shouldn’t Mal Evans also be credited with “Alarm Clock” on “A Day in the Life”?

  22. youcomoldflattop

    sgt. pepper is a good album. tracks that stand out are of course a day in the life, she’s leaving home. it’s getting better, lucy in the sky with diamonds and lovely rita. great effort by four men. the great ones are always the collaborations.

  23. Scott

    OK everyone, here’s a funny little story about Sgt Pepper: I was 8 years old sitting on the couch, and my big sister came home, sat next to me and showed me Sgt Pepper, which she’d just bought. I saw 4 dark haried guys with mustaches. They didn’t look like the Beatles I knew at all. I said, “those are Mexicans!” Those of you from anywhere but the Americas probably can’t relate to that, but at that time, the Mexican men loved to wear facial hair (actually still do), and many caucasions didn’t, so to me, at 8 years old, they were Mexicans!

  24. Lucas

    just wanted to drop a bit of information i just heard in the sgt. pepper’s mini doc that comes on the 2009 remastered copy. no one seems to have mentioned it. people keep saying sgt. pepper’s was paul’s idea, and i’m sure there’s a great deal of truth to that, but ringo says that this idea of having an alter ego-band was his. not sure of the truth in that, but it sounds reasonable. sure, paul most likely fleshed it out from there, but ringo seems to have sparked the interest in the initial concept. feel free to double check my reference to verify. all i want is the truth…

  25. Bill

    Just finished playing my original ‘ 67 mono
    US pressing of Pepper. Haven’t played it in years, been satisfying myself with the stereo version. God, the mono sounds so much better. No wonder this & Pet Sounds (another HUGE favorite of mine) always seem to be on the lists of the top albums ever made. As much as I hate Indian music (I always found it irritating-& I’m a guitarist!), “Within You, Without You” (especially the mono version) actually fits in this album. When I was in the Army, I used to play “Good Morning, Good Morning” in the barracks to wake everybody up…loved it. If you haven’t heard this in mono, get it now, it’s worth it…

  26. BB

    I think this masterpiece of an album is smudged by “She’s Leaving Home” and “When I’m Sixty-Four”. I just don’t care for SLH and ’64 a silly waste I think. The rest are all beyond mere words!

  27. BB

    I’m struck by what some call “filler” on this album, namely “Fixing A Hole” and “Getting Better” which are precisely the one’s I like. George’s guitar playing is just great on those and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” is so freaking good (again good guitar playing)!
    “Within You Without You” was so mysterious to me way back then and I still love it. “Lucy” is of course a classic (to me anyway)and an all-time favorite of mine of course.


    Sgt Pepper was good in general, but the songs, the melodies do not connect musically with eachother as other albums. Each song is good individually in general, but not as good as the White Album. “A day in the life” has an interesting beginning, a very good part sang by Paul but I don’t like the Carnival of Sounds in the middle the full orchestra. It’s rather noisy and it was a good attempt, but it does not make it in the list of my favorites. In general I think even it is a brilliant song for most of us, it lacks of that Beatle quality because they tried to “over do it.” A good experiment but not a brilliant song for such talented composers in comparison with their previous work. This lack of connection between all songs in the album makes it in my opinion the worst album ever produced by the Beatles. I know lots of you are going to get upset because of this comment, but I am trully a Beatle fan. The Sgt. Pepper reprise with all animals it’s just a stupid, noisy and unnecessary idea. I think Getting Better it’s probably the best song in the album. The Sgt. Pepper song is brilliant, as A little help from my friends. For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, is really a poor and silly song that leads to nowhere. Lovely Rita is very catchy and a fair song. Blue Jay Way one of the worst songs written by George. My rating is a B minus for the whole album.

    1. robert

      Before anyone else jumps all over you, let me just say that Blue Jay Way is not on Sgt Pepper – it’s on Magical Mystery Tour. I don’t agree with your analysis – it doesn’t bother me – but hey, it is what it is.

  29. Montecristo1976

    For anyone who has read extensively about the band, it is clearly evident that Paul was the driving force behind “Pepper.” Many comments from John and George substantiate the fact. Of course, like all of their albums, it’s a group effort and it’s still a “Beatles” record and not a “Paul” record. It would have not turned out to be the record it was it were only Paul.
    Still, this does not mean that Paul was not the main force behind the album.

  30. Kem Kemal

    Who is that fool that says it was Paul’s album and John didn’t contribute.,you need to get your facts right and for sure your not a Beatle fan and it is obvious you dislike John Lennon.The band needed John more than he needed them.The only reason Paul was great cause he was led.All the albums they have made,it is Lennon’s songs that make the album,as for a day in a life,that was Lennon’s master piece that Maccartney almost ruined,it was John’s genies that brought it back.Paul needed John.The Beatles held Lennon back,he was light years ahead of all of them.Just look at their solo careers,and please don’t tell me Paul made more money and had more hits,greatness is not necessary measured that way.

  31. v00012

    These are supposedly how the credits should be:

    1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (McCartney)

    2. With A Little Help From My Friends (McCartney-Lennon)

    3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Lennon-McCartney)

    4. Getting Better (McCartney-Lennon)

    5. Fixing A Hole (McCartney)

    6. She’s Leaving Home (McCartney-Lennon)

    7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (Lennon)

    8. Within You Without You (Harrison)

    9. When I’m Sixty-Four (McCartney)

    10. Lovely Rita (McCartney)

    11. Good Morning Good Morning (Lennon)

    12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (McCartney)

    13. A Day In The Life (Lennon-McCartney)

    John’s contributions to Paul’s songs were as significant as Paul’s contributions to John’s (In terms of songwriting and almost instrumentation). With A Little Help has been described by Paul as a 50-50 job, in my mind, completely discontinuing the idea that it’s a solo McCartney composition. From his contradictory replies on the hook to the third verse about his infamous history of domestic violence; John’s lyrical contributions took Getting Better to another level (along with his sweet, falsetto vocals). Part of the charm of She’s Leaving Home is certainly the dramatic greek chorus, written by Lennon and featuring one of the finest depiction’s of a couple of sad parents, grieving over the absence of their child…sung by Lennon – at times, sounding like he could cry. John also played some of his finest, jazzy guitar licks on When I’m Sixty-Four, accentuating the song’s music-hall style. He also levels out the vocal sound on a lot of things, including the title track, singing the bridge bit in such a way that it really endures the whole concept of this big band with different characters.

    Obviously it’s quite silly to try and objectively compare their individual contributions to the album, but I personally feel this is an album of great collaboration (in terms of songwriting; possibly not instrumentation) with John and Paul writing more collaboratively than they had done on Revolver, Rubber Soul or even A Hard Day’s Night.

  32. Beatle Chris

    A lot of these comments sound idiotic. You’re talking about Sgt. Pepper!!! Clearly one of the greatest albums of all time. It might not be everybody’s favorite but come on. This back and forth about McCartney’s album and Lennon did this and he did that, sounds stupid to say the least. LOMAN had a great post above, and sounds like an intelligent Beatle fan. McCartney took everything a little more seriously in those years and loved his band. If you don’t listen to every Beatle album and love everything, you’re not a Beatle aficionado and should really get a clue about who did what. Negative comments about Sgt. Pepper, you must be out of your f****** mind!!!!!!!!!

  33. Graham Paterson

    I agree with Cal.I got Sgt Pepper in 1978 for my 12th birthday, playing it for the first time was magic. It is a great album and very much of its time. All of The Beatles albums are great but Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper,The White Album and Abbey Road are classics and yet all so different. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better, Shes Leaving Home and Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite are great songs. But A Day In The Life is one of the greatest popular songs of all time. Oh how I remember playing A Day In The Life up loud on my small record player. John Lennons wonderful words and voice and then Paul McCartney comes in with his contrasting interlude . Finally back to Lennon and that finale with a little help from George Martin.

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