Paul McCartney about Sgt. Pepper’s on its anniversary

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From the official site a long interview with Beatle Paul on Sgt Pepper. Anectodes, untold stories and more. Released on 26th May 1967 in UK and 2 June in USA- 

Here we report some parts of the Paul McCartney interview For the full article click here  https://www.paulmccartney.com/news-blogs/news/you-gave-me-the-answer-sgt-pepper-special

PaulMcCartey.com [PMc]: Do you remember coming up with the cover and band concepts? We understand that the original concept came from you doing a doodle on a plane based around an Edwardian military band?

PMc: Had you already started to write the songs for that album?
PM: No, but when I got back I started thinking, “Okay, what would their theme tune be?” So I wrote what became the opening song where they would introduce themselves and then they would introduce another character: Billy Shears, which was Ringo.

 

PMc: Was there any reason for the different coloured outfits?
PM: No, we just chose a material. Said, “I’ll have that, he’ll have that”. There was no concept, no. It was just whoever wanted what colour.

PMc: We understand there were two drum skins created for the cover. Was there any specific reason for that, or was it just to make sure you had different options?
PM: No, I think the drum skins – as I recall – were organised by Peter Blake, who had someone he knew who did painting for fairgrounds. So you see the rides in the fairgrounds – like the Waltzer, or you know, the House Of Fun and all that – it’s always lettered and painted a certain way, which is quite an ancient tradition, apparently. There’s a specific look to it all and there are people who specialise in those, so I think Peter had those done by those people, and I suppose he just had a spare one made as well. I think we probably would have just said, “That one”.

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PMc: We realised in the office that there are some grammar mistakes on the drum skin: a semicolon after ‘Sgt’, and there isn’t an apostrophe in ‘Peppers’. Is that just an accident?
PM: Yeah, that’s an accident! The guy doing it was, as I say, a fairground guy, so all this sort of stuff [Paul points to the logo on the album cover] – the filigree and all these decorative things – are the kind of things you would see on the side of a Waltzer, when you go to the fairground. It’s covered in this kind of stuff.

So I think he will have just been told “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and instead of putting a dot after the ‘gt’ of ‘Sgt.’ – which I think you might naturally do – I think it just looks better as a composition to be down there. And there’s no particular reason for it being a semi colon. It could have just as easily been two dots, or something. And then no apostrophe? There’s no reason for it. He was asked to do that and he came up with that beautiful design.

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PMc: Do you remember who’s idea it was to have the cut outs that came with the album? The moustache, medals, stripes and band stand up?
PM: I think those were Peter’s ideas. I certainly gave him the basic idea of the Sgt. Pepper band. There was the floral clock that got changed into the little flower arrangements on the cover. And then the idea was that each of these characters in the “play” would have their own background. So I asked all the guys to come up with a list of people who their character might be fans of. So everyone did that like as a bit of homework, kind of thing.

PMc: Was there anybody who kind of didn’t make the final collage on the cover?
PM: Oh, yeah! I mean, some, because it was just a fun thing. You know, I think someone brought Hitler. And that was vetoed immediately: “No!” And then Jesus was in there. You know, he was an understandable hero. But there were certain ones that might have offended people.

I mean, Hitler, I think was just a joke. No way he was gonna get on there. Jesus was not so much a joke. He could have been in there but we didn’t want to offend Christians.

PMc: Do you remember any specific names you suggested?
PM: [Looking at the album cover] I think these were mine: Aldous Huxley, because I had been reading a book by him. H.G. Wells, Fred Astaire. And then there was Dylan Thomas.

There’s a footballer there, I think that’s Dixie Dean. I mean this is all documented exactly who they are. Laurel and Hardy, we liked them. William Morris, Marilyn Monroe, Terry Southern. This is what the floral clock became at the bottom of the cover. And then people thought this was marijuana, which they weren’t. They were just plants! But, of course, in those days everyone read everything into everything we did.

 

But that was it. We all had a list of favourites. George put in an Indian guru, that’s Yogananda. And Babaji is in there. So we just each put people in that we admired through history, so that was the idea. It was really just so if a fan magazine had said to the characters in this fictitious band, “Who are your favourites?” They’d go, “Oh, these people”. We’d go, “Okay this character, is that kind of guy. George: he’s more into mystical people, you know. Paul: okay, he’s more into literary ones, or whatever”. So it would give us each an identity. It was really just for background.

There were certain ones we all liked, like Oscar Wilde. Max Miller was a British comedian. And then there’s Stuart [Sutcliffe], who had been our old bass player, who died. Aubrey Beardsley, the artist. The Bowery Boys, they were a TV series when we were growing up, and there was one of them who wouldn’t do it. One of them wanted money for it.

A coda from PaulMcCartney.com: After we stopped recording our Q&A, Paul carried on telling us some very cool stories, such as how one day in the studio the ‘A’ string on John Lennon’s guitar began to resonate when he leant his guitar against an amplifier. The band jumped up when they heard the noise, saying, “What’s that?!” After George Martin explained how certain frequencies will make objects vibrate, it was agreed they would record this new sound for the start of ‘I Feel Fine’.

Paul told us how he really loved that about The Beatles: when those “happy accidents” happened, the band would want to use it in a song somehow. He likened it to how a painter might see a small, unintended brushstroke on a canvas and decide to leave it in, rather than painting it out.

Another story Paul told us was about how one of the engineers threaded the tape machine the wrong way in the studio during a session. When they pressed “Play” the song played backwards and again, up they jumped asking George Martin if they could use that somehow. Paul told us George’s response was always to rub his chin, look thoughtful then reply, “Well, I suppose we could…” And the rest, as they say, is history! 

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