7 Liverpool links to the iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album

 1967 is seen as the golden year for classic albums, with Sgt. Pepper released on 1st June, amongst the highest regarded. Even after 50 years it’s a record which continues to influence music made here on Merseyside in 2017.

Ahead of the Sgt Pepper 50 celebrations in Liverpool here are just some of the reasons why the links between the album and our city remain as strong as ever. 


Sgt. Pepper is a true Liverpool album

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In many ways, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was The Beatles’ most Liverpudlian album of all, because so much of it was inspired by the sounds, music, and culture in Liverpool that they had grown up with, reflecting their own heritage. Even George Harrison’s ‘Within You Without You’ on the album was influenced by his own mother’s love of Indian music.

 

Reissues include Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever

Deluxe reissues of the album incorporate recordings of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, albeit alternate versions of both rather than the hit singles.
The idea for Penny Lane was conceived by Paul McCartney while sitting in a bus shelter in Penny Lane while waiting for John Lennon to meet him.  According to legend, he simply jotted down everything he saw around him in a notebook and some years later completed the song, which has a distinctly English music-hall feel.  ‘The shelter in the middle of the roundabout’ is now gone sadly. Many of the places mentioned in the song are still in existence though, and Penny Lane still retains the ‘blue suburban skies’ atmosphere which Paul must have found so magical.
Strawberry Fields Forever famously refers to the children’s orphanage that John lived close to when he was growing up.  Owing to the fact that John didn’t live with his mother or father, he identified with the children there and so he’d often visit them.  It remains one of the most discussed Beatles songs and is a striking example of John’s ability to tap into the memories of his childhood to create imaginative and haunting music.

 

Pepper is the story of the Fab Four’s childhoods


Sgt. Pepper is nostalgic without being old fashioned or dated. Throughout Pepper there are constant signposts to The Beatle’s Liverpool childhoods, and songs like When I’m Sixty Four are reminiscent of the music hall Paul McCartney’s dad, Jim, played.  Whilst listening to it, one is reminded of band-stands in the park, Salvation Army brass-bands, red double-decker buses, trams, and British officialdom like traffic-wardens.

READ MORE: Check out the full listings for the Sgt Pepper 50 celebrations in Liverpool

The Beatles residency at The Cavern has an enduring legacy

A place indelibly linked with The Beatles, because the band (or group, as they were then known) had a residency at the club. The Cavern still exists today, if not on its original site. The biggest testament to the venue’s significance is the amount of legendary bands that have played there after The Beatles, all perhaps hoping for some of the magic to rub off on them.  The clubs bear the names of some of the bands that have played there during the venue’s history. Its brick arch interior is affectionately replicated by EBGBs https://www.ebgbs.co.uk/, the venue for emerging bands at the other end of town, ensuring the legacy lives on in new music.

 

Pepper’s iconic album cover is still revered today

The cover is a mural of icons ranging from the personal, former Beatles bass player the late Stuart Sutcliffe plus wax models of John, Paul, George and Ringo; to divas from the silver screen Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe, to writer William S. Burroughs and philosopher Karl Marx. The design is still aped and copied in 2017, and people continue to debate over the artwork’s meaning. It’s still fun, years after the record’s initial release, to make out who is who and speculate why they are there!

The Beatles stopping touring in 1966 meant Sgt. Pepper was never performed live in Liverpool, or anywhere else

Because technology had yet to catch up with or accommodate The Beatles amplification-wise to cope with the size of venues they played and their vocal teen audience, the band stopped touring in 1966. This leaves a massive what could have been in its wake, and makes us wonder what those shows would have been like if Sgt. Pepper and later albums could have been performed live.

 

Liverpool’s Beatles statues and sculptures offer free and differing perspectives of the band

Photo credit Terry Bouch

Beatles statues in Liverpool are ace, and mean you can still commemorate if on a budget. Why not wander around the city centre looking at Beatles related artwork? A statue of John is in Mathew Street, ones of all four Beatles walking along the Pier Head, and the sculpture of Eleanor Rigby as imagined by Tommy Steele is in Stanley Street, opposite one of Liverpool’s oldest Italian restaurants Casa Italia. Outside the Liverpool Echo Arena is the European Peace Monument which was dedicated to John Lennon and opened on what would have been his 70th

You can enjoy the official celebrations of the Sgt. Pepper anniversary, with events running from 25 May to 16 June. The full listings are included here: www.sgtpepperat50.com

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