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The Beatles’ 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' Celebrates 50 Years

50th anniversary deluxe version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credit Apple Corps Ltd.

Today is the 50th anniversary of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was released on 1 June 1967. At the time of its release its innovations and eccentricities were cutting edge.

But now, which is a testament to its legacy, the sounds and styles from the album, and its experimental approach in the studio, have been heavily adopted and become commonplace. Still, it remains a seminal album and one that each household has a copy of—be it vinyl, CD, or digital.

And, of course, along with the music embedding itself into our culture, the album artwork too, especially the famous front cover by Pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, has become emblematic.

The Beatles ascend the steps to the stage at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan for a matinee concert on 2nd July, 1966, in the year before Sgt. Peppers was released. Photographer © Robert Whitaker

There’s been plenty going on too that celebrates this landmark album. In the band’s hometown of Liverpool—which has a lot of events going on—a giant mural at Stanley Dock has been unveiled created by US artist Judy Chicago. It nods to the fifth track of the LP, “Fixing a Hole”, and is done in the psychedelic colours reminiscent of the band‘s style at that period.

Meanwhile in London the famous Abbey Road Studios have been celebrating the album. Many of the tracks from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were recorded in Studio Two at Abbey Road. Because of this the wall outside Abbey Road got a Sgt Peppers themed display. And famed rock photographer Jill Furmanovsky—who’s shot everyone from Bob Dylan to Blondie—paid a visit to photograph it.

Outside Abbey Road Studios with the Sgt. Peppers display on the wall. Photographer © Jill Furmanovsky

Furmanovsky is no stranger to Abbey Road and first got to go inside when she photographed Pink Floyd as they were recording Wish You Were Here. She also shot Oasis there, her first visit inside Studio Two (what Furmanovsky calls ”that hallowed space”) when they recorded Be Here Now in the same place that hosted the Sgt. Pepper’s sessions. Appropriately Oasis famously upset the studio's neighbours by playing Beatles music too loud.

Pink Floyd at Abbey Road Studios, London, UK in 1975 recording the album 'Wish You Were Here'. Photographer © Jill Furmanovsky

Speaking about Abbey Road, the Beatles, and Sgt. Pepper’s Furmanovsky notes: 

“50 years ago I was one of the teenage girls hanging about outside Abbey Road Studios hoping to catch sight of The Beatles going to work. As I remember it, they had Minis in different colours and would zoom in at various times waving to us as if in a hurry or stopping briefly to sign an autograph or pose for a picture if they had time. I was a bit too young at thirteen to be a proper Apple Scruff. Those slightly older girls were given errands to do by Beatles tour manger Mel Evans – he asked them to go to the corner shop to buy milk, cigs or a newspaper. Lucky them, I thought! My dream was just to be allowed into Abbey Road Studios. I wrote a letter asking for permission to visit so I could write an article for my school magazine. It was politely refused of course. They were probably inundated with such requests. But now I look back I think I was determined to get in even if I had to wait. My dream to work with musicians was born outside the gates.”

The full range of Jill's images of the Sgt. Pepper take over at Abbey Road can be seen here 

Oasis at Abbey Road Studios, London, UK in October 1996. Photographer © Jill Furmanovsky

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer many iconic images of The Beatles as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here. There are also images of Oasis to buy from Abbey Road and beyond here. And iconic Pink Floyd images from their recording sessions and photo shoots can be bought here.

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