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Making ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ Part 1: Setting the Stage – Baeble Music

Making ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ Part 1: Setting the Stage – Baeble Music

Making ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ Part 1: Setting the Stage – Baeble Music
May 16
09:45 2017

Posted by: Robert Steiner
Welcome to ‘Making Sgt. Pepper,’ a four-part miniseries leading up to the legendary album’s 50th anniversary. To kick things off, we’re going to explore the couple years before recording sessions for the album began, and the many factors that inspired the Beatles to create such an ambitious and unprecedented work of art.It’s hard to believe that The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that’s the soundtrack of a youth-centric movement, is three weeks away from being half-a-century old. Few albums have maintained such lasting praise as long as Pepper, which was hailed as a classic immediately upon its release and still tops ‘greatest albums’ lists to this day. The album is also an important marker in the band’s career, as it’s the point where they left their “teen pop idol” image behind and proved themselves to be undisputed, bona-fide artists.It’s an album that sounded nothing like what the band had released up to that point, which naturally brings up the question: What exactly led to Pepper? When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, & Ringo Starr walked into Abbey Road Studio Two in November 1966, why didn’t they churn out another winning pop record like they had always done? The answer, of course, is anything but straightforward. Though recorded in only six months, Pepper was a concept many years in the making, as changes in the band’s artistic desires and personal lives drove them to create something unlike anything they had done before.

Although they were still the most popular musical act on the planet at the time,1965 and 1966 proved to be particularly rough years for the band. They, like any other young people entering their mid-20s, were feeling growing pains, and after spending literal years working 24/7 without breaks, the four were eager to actually live like young people now that they had the means to do so. All four members, to varying degrees, were ready to do something different than their rigid album-tour-album cycle, and they were all antsy to create a more personal identity than the lovable, longhaired teenyboppers in suits. However, growing pains or not, they were still the biggest band in the world with an image to maintain. A harsh spotlight followed the band at all times, meaning every mistake or moment of angst was caught on full display. This fact is probably why, for the first time in their careers, the public began to turn on the Fab Four, and what they had been doing for years was suddenly not working.

As the ambassadors for an emerging generation, the Beatles arguably changed as 1960s culture changed, largely because they were often the trendsetters in the first place. So when drug use gradually emerged to prominence the mid 60s, and the Summer of Love was just beginning its sunrise, the band was quick to turn on, tune in, and drop out, forever changing their musical style and personal behaviors. John and George were the first of the four to try LSD, though not by their own accord. As legend goes, John Riley, London’s dentist to the stars, invited the pair and their wives, Cynthia Lennon and Patti Boyd, to dinner in the spring of 1965. Without telling either couples, Riley slipped acid into their coffees, intending to be the first person to turn on the Beatles to the emerging drug of choice. The event, coined by George as “The Dental Experience,” proved to be more jarring than enjoyable, but it at least compelled John and George to try it again under more consensual circumstances, as well as get the other two Beatles to give it a try. “It was such a mammoth experience that it was unexplainable,” George explained in The Beatles Anthology, “It was something that had to be experienced, because you could spend the rest of your life trying to explain what it made you feel and think. It was all too important to John and me.”

Source: Making ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ Part 1: Setting the Stage – Baeble Music

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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