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With the 50th anniversary of the official U.K. release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band taking place this Thursday, Beatles historian and author Bruce Spizer has just published a fascinating new book focusing on the landmark album. The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fans’ Perspective delves into how the album was experienced and embraced by the group’s faithful followers, while also offering an in-depth look at the history and cultural impact of the record.
Spizer tells ABC Radio that the catalyst for his book was an essay he wrote celebrating Sgt. Pepper‘s 50th anniversary, which he decided to augment with a series of fan recollections gathered from a variety of sources. These remembrances wound up being at the core of the project.
“The real key to it was…fans really related to this album and I just felt that people would have their own Sgt. Pepper stories,” he explains. Spizer also says he noticed that many of these recollections actually mirrored his own Sgt. Pepper experiences, which he discussed in his essay.

“What it showed me was that my Sgt. Pepper experience wasn’t unique after all,” he maintains, “and there also were people talking about how they made friends through The Beatles and through Sgt. Pepper, and things of that nature.”

Among the fans who shared their Sgt. Pepper memories were some noteworthy music artists, including Billy Joel, The MonkeesPeter Tork, The SmithereensPat DiNizio, ex-Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and The Royal Guardsmen’s Barry Winslow. The book is enhanced by a variety of rare photos and images.
Other sections of the book focus on information about each track on Sgt. Pepper, the album’s chart history, details about its famous cover art and innovative packaging, and much more.
Hardcover- May 25, 2017 PRE-ORDER HERE (FREE Shipping!!): H E R E .


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Today’s installment tells how John Lennon’s TV obsession led to the creation of “Good Morning Good Morning.”
John Lennon indulged in a myriad of mind-altering substances during the recording of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but his drug of choice may have been television. “A couple of weeks of telly-watching is as good as pot,” he professed at the time to biographer Hunter Davies. “I think a lot when I’m watching telly. It’s like looking into the fire and daydreaming. You’re watching it, but your mind’s not on it.” After the band vowed to abandon live performances in the fall of 1966, Lennon relied on TV and drugs to fill the enormous void left by the absence of the Beatles’ extensive concert schedule, which had provided structure to his life since he was barely out of his teens. “I didn’t know what to do,” John remembered shortly before his death in 1980. “What do you do when you don’t tour? There’s no life. What the hell do you do all day?”
His days were spent mostly horizontal at Kenwood, the 27-room luxury estate he shared with his wife Cynthia and three-year-old son Julian in the staid upper-class London suburb of Weybridge. He’d never been happy in the area, consenting to move there in 1964 at his accountant’s suggestion (Kenwood was the third house they viewed). “Weybridge won’t do at all,” he told journalist Maureen Cleave two years later. “I’m just stopping at it, like a bus stop. Bankers and stockbrokers live there; they can add figures and Weybridge is what they live in and they think it’s the end, they really do. I think of it every day – me in my Hansel and Gretel house. I’ll take my time; I’ll get my real house when I know what I want. … You see, there’s something else I’m going to do, something I must do – only I don’t know what it is.”
The constant motion of Beatle business had provided a long-term distraction, and now the downtime forced Lennon to confront the day-to-day realities and responsibilities of being a husband and father. Seemingly overnight, his self-styled existence, steeped in excitement, privilege and fierce individuality (not to mention fan worship on a colossal scale), had been replaced by a stodgy life he barely recognized. For everything he had achieved, for every wild childhood dream that had miraculously come true, Lennon still wound up trapped in the same cozy suburban haze he had often railed against.

Depressed, he dealt with the letdown by escaping into his mind at every opportunity. “If I’m on my own for three days, doing nothing, I almost leave myself completely. I’m just not here,” he told Davies. “I’m up there watching myself, or I’m at the back of my head. I can see my hands and realize they’re moving, but it’s a robot who’s doing it.” This sensation was no doubt aided by the mortar and pestle he kept nearby to mash together a dizzying array of pharmaceuticals onto one unpredictable mega-pill.

Cynthia grew distressed at how distant, apathetic and inert her rock-star husband had become. “When he was at home, he’d spend a lot of time lying in bed with a notepad,” she later said. “When he got up, he’d sit at the piano or he’d go from one room to the other listening to music, gawping at television and reading newspapers. He was basically dropping out from everything that was happening. He was thinking about things.” His estrangement from reality was so total, he often asked incoming phone callers, with genuine interest, what day of the week it was.

The songs Lennon wrote in this period are all meditations on the mundane; a child’s painting (“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”), a poster in his living room (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”), a newspaper (“A Day in the Life”), all drawn from within the four walls of Kenwood. Another is “Good Morning Good Morning,” which owes its existence to his love of television.

“I often sit at the piano, working at songs, with the telly on low in the background,” he explained to Davies. “If I’m a bit low and not getting much done, then the words on the telly come through. That’s when I heard ‘Good morning, good morning.’ It was a Corn Flakes advertisement.” Kicking off with a pastoral rooster crow, the irrepressibly peppy jingle chirped out from the set: “Good morning, good morning!/The best to you each morning/Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes/Crisp and full of fun!” The tune was at the same time annoyingly chipper and chillingly lobotomized. In other words, it was the perfect soundtrack to his world at Kenwood.

Inspired by his total lack of inspiration – which had previously triggered the Rubber Soul track “Nowhere Man” – he began to write. Words of bland domesticity tumbled out: “how’s your boy been, going to work, heading for home, time for tea.” “John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia,” Paul McCartney confirms in his biography, Many Years from Now. “It was about his boring life at the time. There’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called Meet the Wife that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells and so, ‘Good morning, good morning.'”

On December 12th, 1966, Meet the Wife aired an episode entitled “This Christmas, Shop Early,” chronicling holiday shoppers frantically making their last-minute gift purchases. The plot may very well have inspired the line that immediately preceded the reference to the show: “People running round, it’s five o’clock, everywhere in town is getting dark.”

It’s a rare active moment in a song packed with boredom that borders on nihilism. The word “nothing” appears eight times in the two-minute, 41-second track, and each verse ends with the assertion that the narrator has nothing to say, “but it’s OK.” For someone who strenuously avoided writing “fiction” songs in the vein of McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lovely Rita” or “When I’m Sixty-Four” (“He makes ’em up like a novelist!” Lennon once marveled), “Good Morning Good Morning” can be read as a revealing confession of complete and utter apathy. “Nothing to do to save his life,” the opening words, ring out like the final gasp of a man surrendering to daily claustrophobia.

But one brief line may offer a glimmer of hope. Author Steve Turner observes that the lyric “You go to a show, you hope she goes,” may be a reference to a woman Lennon had recently met that November at an art exhibition: Yoko Ono. Though it’s pure speculation (and likely that she hadn’t captured his imagination just yet), Lennon’s involvement with Ono meant that his days adrift in a sea of domesticity at Kenwood were numbered.


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It was 50 years ago this week, the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and, according to George Harrison, “saved the world from boredom.”
To commemorate one of the most innovative albums of all time, former rock and roll journalist and music executive Brian Southall penned“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, the Beatles and the World in 1967.”
The key to the whole thing occurred before they even entered the studio.
“They stopped touring in 1966 — there was no one to make them continue on,” Southall told the Daily News. “That meant they could see themselves as more than a pop band — they had freedom to go in … record, uninterrupted, for three straight months.”
In those few months, the Beatles — attempting to dethrone “Pet Sounds,” by the Beach Boys — wrote “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life.”
The book, like the record, is two-sided — the first half devoted to the band, and the second to the year.
Southall dives into the life of each bandmate: Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Honorary “fifth Beatle,” manager Brian Epstein, and producer George Martin get their own sections, too.
“Paul came up with this idea: ‘We don’t have to be the Beatles, we can be this other band,’” said Southall, whose book is available Thursday. And from that thought grew “Sgt. Pepper’s,” with its groundbreaking and immensely influential sound.
 “At one point there was eight machines in different control rooms throughout the building all linked up with people holding the tape tension by a pencil,” Southall writes. “John was always intrigued by the sounds you could create artificially.”
The 13 songs that comprise “Sgt. Pepper’s” are individually dissected in the book, including the tale that “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” originated with a drawing by Lennon’s son Julian.
The album’s iconic cover art is covered in Southall’s pages as well. It was designed by former husband-and-wife artist team, Jann Haworth and Peter Blake.
“The idea was presented to us as a collage but I saw it as a life-size set,” Haworth told The News.
The icons surrounding the Beatles were conjured by the band after Haworth asked them to list their heroes. She made those icons into 2-D cutouts and arranged them around the Beatles just so. “The Beatles didn’t choose any women, I actually added the women in. Like Mae West — she was not considered conventionally beautiful but she was whip smart,” Haworth said.
“I created the two dolls off to the right side. They wanted Shirley Temple but we couldn’t have a child on the cover of an album about drugs, so I made a doll that looked like my grandmother and a Shirley doll and had her sit on my grandmother’s lap.”
Whoever was in charge of ordering the flowers didn’t buy enough to cover the ground as initially planned, so Haworth turned what she had into the red floral “Beatles” below the band.
The florist created a guitar out of some of the remaining flowers (that’s the yellow shape on the right side below the band’s blossoming name).
McCartney, in an interview marking the 50th anniversary, last week cleared up one fact. Southall writes that one of the rumors about how the Beatles chose the name “Sgt. Pepper” was that the bassist came up with the name after seeing a small salt and pepper sachet aboard a plane.
McCartney revealed that was half-right: “I was coming back from a trip abroad with our roadie, Mal Evans. We were eating and he asked me to pass the salt and pepper. I thought he said, ‘Sergeant Pepper.’ “I went, ‘Oh! Wait a minute, that’s a great idea!’ I started thinking about Sergeant Pepper as a character. I thought it would be a very interesting idea for us to assume alter egos … I said, ‘It will mean, when I approach the mic, it’s not Paul McCartney.’”


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From the Cavern Club where they got their start to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, you can now follow the Beatles’ rise to success on Google Earth.
Google’s celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the eighth album from the legendary rock ‘n’ roll group. Using Google Earth’s Voyager, you can go on a simulated tour of nine different locations around the world that are significant to Beatles history.
Voyager is a recent addition to Google Earth that essentially turns the exploration app into a storytelling medium. You can explore curated locations ranging from cities to jungles and oceans while reading information and stories about each as Google guides you from place to place.
Head here to check out Voyager’s tour of Beatles history. You’ll be able to look around Abbey Road Studios and the Hollywood Bowl concert hall in California while brushing up on your Beatles trivia.


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Today’s installment looks back at the rock summit meetings that took place during the recording of “Lovely Rita.”
By early 1967, Abbey Road was one of the few remaining places on the planet where the Beatles could be guaranteed a modicum of privacy. As such, the studios had taken on an almost sacred significance, and outsiders were viewed with suspicion. It was an unspoken rule that wives and girlfriends were not welcome except on very special occasions, and even manager Brian Epstein entered at his own peril. Once during a studio visit, he dared to suggest that the singing sounded slightly flat. “You look after your percentages, Brian. We’ll look after the music,” John Lennon shot back. Epstein made himself scarce after that.
The 36-by-21 foot Studio 2 had become the center of the band’s world, populated by loyal confidants Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, producer George Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick, a handful of technicians and occasionally journalist Hunter Davies, who was then working on the Beatles’ biography. Other than that, only old friends and rock elites were granted rare access into this inner sanctum. While recording the orchestral climax for “A Day in the Life” on February 10th, the Beatles threw a small “happening” in the cavernous Studio 1 next door, inviting Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Donovan, Marianne Faithfull and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. A few weeks later they would receive several other notable guests as they worked on the track “Lovely Rita.”
The song had taken shape in Paul McCartney’s imagination during a trip to see his father and brother in Liverpool earlier that year. “I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked,” he told biographer Barry Miles in the book Many Years from Now. “This was about the time that parking meters were coming in; before that we’d been able to park freely, so people had quite an antagonistic feeling towards these people.” Having been fined a number of times himself, his first inclination was to take lyrical revenge by writing an anti-authority satire. “I was thinking vaguely that it should be a hate song: ‘You took my car away and I’m so blue today,’ and you wouldn’t be liking her,” he explained in an interview with illustrator Alan Aldridge. “But then I thought it would be better to love her.”
Musing on the subject, he recalled reading that female traffic officers had a nickname in the United States: meter maids. “I thought, God, that’s so American! Also, to me, ‘maid’ had sexual connotations, like a French maid or a milkmaid. There’s something good about ‘maid.’ And ‘meter’ made it a bit more official, like the meter in a cab; the meter is running, meter maid. Hearing that amused me. … ‘Rita’ was the only name I could think of that would rhyme with it so I started on that, ‘Rita,’ ‘meter maid,’ ‘Lovely Rita.’ And I just fantasized on the idea.”
Decades later, a woman named Meta Davis came forward claiming to be the meter maid in question. In the Sixties she had served as the first female traffic warden in the London neighborhood of St. John’s Wood, where McCartney lived. Even stranger, Davis says she once fined the Beatle. “It was in the spring of 1967 that I ticketed Paul’s car,” Rita told author Steven Turner in his book, A Hard Day’s Write. “He was on a meter showing excess, so I gave him a ten-shilling ticket. … I’d just put it on the windscreen when Paul came along and took it off. He looked at it and read my signature, which was in full, because there was another M. Davies on the same unit. As he was walking away, he turned to me and said, ‘Oh, is your name really Meta?’ I told him that it was. We chatted for a few minutes and he said, ‘That would be a good name for a song. Would you mind if I use it?’ And that was that. Off he went. … Then, a few months later, I heard ‘Lovely Rita’ on the radio.”
Paul himself denies that the interaction consciously inspired the song. “It wasn’t based on a real person,” he told Miles. “I think it was more a question of coincidence. … I didn’t think, ‘Wow, that woman gave me a ticket, I’ll write a song about her.’ Never happened like that.”
After recording the instrumental backing track, the band reconvened the following day to tackle the vocals. As they worked, a pair of pop stars dropped by to join them: Tony Hicks of the Hollies and David Crosby of the Byrds. The Beatles had grown particularly close to Crosby during an extended stay in Los Angeles as part of their 1965 U.S. tour, even dropping acid with him and fellow Byrd Jim McGuinn. The groups would continue to a share a great affinity for one another – particularly George Harrison and McGuinn, who emboldened one another to incorporate Indian modes into Western pop with their jangling Rickenbacker 12-strings.
All of the Beatles valued Crosby’s opinion, so when he stopped by Abbey Road they were eager to play him some of their latest work. “I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear ‘A Day in the Life,'” Crosby recalled in an interview with Filter. “I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers, like coffins with wheels, that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got to the end of that piano chord, man, my brains were on the floor.”
Also on hand that night was Leslie Bryce, the staff photographer from The Beatles Book Monthlymagazine, who took several photos of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Crosby gathered around a microphone. The accompanying article insinuates that Crosby added backup vocals on “Lovely Rita,” but his contribution, if it ever existed (Crosby never says it did), was not used. However, Bryce’s camera failed to capture singer Shawn Phillips, who claims that he too was in attendance with Crosby and Hicks. The American folk-rocker was a musical collaborator and close companion to Donovan, a friend of the Beatles. “We’d known each other a year by that point, and Paul invited us to Abbey Road, and we went there,” Phillips told Goldmine in 2012. “We went to the studio, and at some point Paul says, ‘We need backup vocals on this. This is what I want you to sing.’ So David Crosby and I went in there and we sang backup vocals on ‘Lovely Rita.'” Aside from his own assertions, Phillips’ presence remains unverified.
The Beatles would revisit “Lovely Rita” on March 7th, when they tackled a series of unconventional overdubs. In his 2006 memoir, Geoff Emerick recalls the band “standing around a single microphone humming through a comb and paper, each priceless Beatle comb carefully wrapped with a single layer of the standard issue extra-scratchy EMI toilet paper that we were all constantly complaining about.” To achieve a kazoo effect, Mal Evans had been dispatched to the studio bathrooms to collect several rolls, each piece stamped with the words “Property of EMI” to deter theft. The TP was, according to Harrison, “like lino [linoleum],” and their grievances ultimately changed EMI’s toilet-paper policy. (A roll of the offending stuff was later sold in 2011 for 1,000 pounds a sheet.)
The song was completed on March 21st, after the group recorded backing vocals for “Getting Better.” This same night Lennon accidentally dosed himself with LSD, so his involvement in the session was minimal as the remaining band members struggled to conceive of a way to fill the solo gap in “Lovely Rita.” Emerick ultimately had the winning idea. “My suggestion was that they try something on piano. To my surprise, Paul asked, ‘Why don’t you play it?’ In a kneejerk reaction – and to my everlasting regret – I demurred; I was simply too embarrassed to demonstrate my musical skills. Paul shrugged his shoulders and took a stab at it, but he still wasn’t a hundred percent certain that it was a good idea, so he had George Martin play something instead.” Martin employed a trick he had used on the Rubber Soul track “In My Life,” recording a piano part at a slow tape speed. When it was played at the appropriate speed the effect resembled a wild honky-tonk riff.
Throughout the night the Beatles received several visitors, including their music publisher Dick James, management deputy Peter Brown, and Ivan Vaughan, who had introduced John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the first time back in 1957. But perhaps most notable was Norman Smith, who had worked as the Beatles’ engineer until the previous year. He had since moved on to a production role, and was working in nearby Studio 3 recording the debut album for a brand new group: Pink Floyd.
“Very politely, [Smith] asked George Martin if his boys could possibly pop in to see the Beatles at work,” Davies wrote in the Beatles’ biography. “George smiled, unhelpfully. Norman said perhaps he should ask John personally, as a favor. George Martin said no, that wouldn’t work. But if by chance he and his boys popped in about eleven o’clock, he might just be able to see what he could do.”

That’s exactly what Smith did. Though Pink Floyd had become the official house band of the London Underground scene with appearances at the ultra-hip UFO Club, they were still overawed being in the presence of the Beatles. “They were God-like figures to us,” drummer Nick Mason recalled in a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal. “They all seemed extremely nice, but they were in a strata so far beyond us that they were out of our league.” He elaborated on the meeting in his 2004 memoir, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. “We were ushered into Studio 2 where the Fab Four were busy recording ‘Lovely Rita.’ The music sounded wonderful, and incredibly professional. … There was little if any banter with the Beatles. We sat humbly and humbled, at the back of the control room while they worked on the mix, and after a suitable (and embarrassing) period of time had elapsed, we were ushered out again.”
Roger Waters’ memory of the momentary rock summit is somewhat less warm. “I only met John Lennon once, to my huge regret, and that was in the control room at Number 2,” he said in an interview with Marc Maron. “He was a bit acerbic. He was quite snotty – so was I!”