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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An In-depth look Into the Most Famous Album Cover of All Time ~ The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles, released on 1 June 1967 and was produced by George Martin. The album is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and has since been recognised as one of the most important albums in the history of popular music, including songs such as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life". Recorded over a 129-day period beginning in December 1966, Sgt. Pepper saw the band developing the production techniques of their previous album, Revolver. Martin's innovative and lavish production included the orchestra usage and hired musicians ordered by the band. Genres such as music hall, rock and roll, pop rock, and traditional Indian music are covered. The album cover art, by English pop artist Peter Blake, depicts the band posing in front of a collage of their favourite celebrities, and has been widely acclaimed and often imitated.

Sgt. Pepper was a worldwide critical and commercial success, spending a total of 27 weeks at the top of the UK Album Chart and 15 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200. A defining album in the emerging psychedelic rock style, the album was critically acclaimed upon release and won four Grammy Awards in 1968. It frequently ranks at or near the top of published lists of the greatest albums of all time. In 1994 it was ranked number one in the book All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2003, and again in 2012, the album was placed at number one on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Sgt. Pepper is one of the world's best selling albums; 32 million copies have been shipped [via wiki and MOYZE]

**click on images for a larger view**
The Grammy Award-winning album packaging was art-directed by Robert Fraser, designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, his wife and artistic partner, and photographed by Michael CooperThe final bill for the cover was £2,868  (equivalent to £38,823 today or $63,386 CDN), a staggering sum for the time. It has been estimated that this was 100 times the average cost for an album cover in those days.

Inside look at the original unreleased version of the famous cover

Hey why not play the classic album whilst you learn more about it!
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (often shortened to Sgt. Pepper) is the eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles, released on 1 June 1967 on the Parlophone label and produced by George Martin.

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With a Little Help from My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
4. Getting Better 
5. Fixing a Hole 
6. She's Leaving Home 
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You 
9. When I'm Sixty-Four 
10. Lovely Rita 
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day in the Life (my personal fave from this album)
This is where the famous photo session took place, at Studio 4, Chelsea Manor Studios, 1-11 Flood Street, Chelsea, London. Many people have been there knowing the most famous album cover of all times was created inside this small mansion.

The original album cover was to feature a few people that didn't make the one we know today. You can see Hilter's cut-out off to the right near the light looking on with great jealousy

Gandhi (1) was cut out because they were concerned India could be offended by this, and that they might not print the album. Hitler : He was cut out for obvious re-thinking of the presence of his photo cutout on the album. Leo Gorcey (American stage and film actor) (2): He was taken out because he decided to ask for money for them to use his picture on the cover. I am sure he must have regretted that decision later)

Hilter is the one with the arrow in his side:
Jesus Christ cutout was also supposed be on the cover, but was taken out because of a famous John Lennon statement in 1966 : “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Even now, co-creator Jann Haworth regrets that so few women were included.
***Click on image for a larger view***
Top row :
(1) Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru)(2) Aleister Crowley (occultist), (3) Mae West (actress),(4) Lenny Bruce (comedian), (5) Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer), (6) W. C. Fields(comedian/actor),(7) Carl Gustav Jung (psychiatrist), (8) Edgar Allan Poe (writer), (9) Fred Astaire (actor/dancer), (10) Richard Merkin (artist)(11) The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)(12) Huntz Hall (actor), (13) Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers), (14) Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
Second row:
(15) Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator), (16) Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister), (17) Aldous Huxley (writer), (18) Dylan Thomas (poet), (19) Terry Southern (writer), (20) Dion(singer), (21) Tony Curtis (actor), (22) Wallace Berman (artist), (23) Tommy Handley(comedian), (24) Marilyn Monroe (actress), (25) William S. Burroughs (writer), (26) Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru), (27) Stan Laurel (actor/comedian), (28) Richard Lindner(artist), (29) Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian), (30) Karl Marx (political philosopher), (31) H. G. Wells (writer), (32) Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru),
(33)Either Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist) according to wikipedia or James Joyce according to many – (barely visible) ;  the person is in fact James Joyce as you can see below.
(34) Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)
Third row: (35) Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle), (36) Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy), (37) Max Miller (comedian), (38) A “Petty Girl” (by artist George Petty), (39) Marlon Brando (actor), (40) Tom Mix (actor), (41) Oscar Wilde (writer), (42) Tyrone Power (actor), (43) Larry Bell (artist), (44) Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer), (45) Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor), (46) Stephen Crane (writer) – barely visible ;
(47) Issy Bonn (comedian), (48) George Bernard Shaw (playwright), (49)H. C. Westermann(sculptor), (50) Albert Stubbins (football player), (51) Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru), (52) Lewis Carroll (writer), (53) T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”),
Front row: (54) Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer), (55) A “Petty Girl” (by George Petty), (56) Wax model of George Harrison, (57) Wax model of John Lennon,(58) Shirley Temple (child actress) - barely visible;
(59) Wax model of Ringo Starr, (60) Wax model of Paul McCartney, (61) Albert Einstein(physicist) – Hidden behind ;
(62) John Lennon, (63) Ringo Starr, (64) Paul McCartney, (65)George Harrison, (66) Bobby Breen (singer), (67) Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer), (68) Legionnaire from the Order of the Buffalos, (69) 

Comedian Lenny Bruce's cut-out gets some touch ups
Brando waiting for his cue

Wax head of boxer Sonny Liston 
Headless figures await noggins
Wax Beatles
Wax figure of Actress Diana Dors gets felt up prior to the cover shoot.

George Harrison can carry off a pimpin' hat.

Photographer MIchael Cooper at the ready
Alternate takes for the cover

Check out this great 1992 documentary about making the classic Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. A must see for any Beatles fan!


  1. Thank you for posting all this info. Great job.

  2. Yeah this was awesome, great job. Higher res photos would be great, but nonetheless it was really informative, thank you!

  3. Im curious if there’s been any discussion or comparisons to the mural by Diego Rivera? As a former student of art history I feel the connection to Diego’s Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park is a bit obvious as an influence.