It’s half a century since The Beatles released their famous Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. We asked some well-known figures about their memories - and Calderdale record store owners about its influence on them.
Martin Carthy: Singer and musician
I was working in Denmark at the time and getting very well paid at a cabaret theatre. My wife at the time was pregnant and the money I was earning was an opportunity to put a deposit down on a house.
She sent me a copy of the album with a note saying “here’s the album we’ve all been waiting for”. When I first listened to it I thought it was astounding.
It was really diligent and diligent is the word because they worked so hard for so long, they really stretched the limits of the recording studio.
It was wonderful and full of optimism. They did better stuff later on but they wouldn’t have been able to do that without Sgt Pepper. At the time rockers, folkies and jazz musicians were all falling over each other’s feet.
There was a spirit of experimentation and this album embodied that whole notion.
Barrie Rutter: Northern Broadsides founder
I was in London that summer with the National Youth Theatre and I was playing Falstaff in Henry IV Part I. I wasn’t a big Beatles fan, I was more of a Rolling Stones fan – it seemed to cost more to follow The Beatles than it did to follow the Stones and I was just a poor lad from Hull. When I first heard the record I remember not thinking much of it.
Some of my mates told me to smoke a joint and listen to it, and I thought ‘why do I need a joint to listen to it?’ I’d rather have a pint.
But I do remember the album cover and spotting all the different people became a bit of a game, and a rather good game, with everyone seeing who they could pick out. ‘Flower power’ and the Summer of Love passed me by, I thought it was all a bit daft to be honest.
It was another 18 months before I listened to the story of how Sgt Pepper was made with all the orchestras and the technology brought in by George Martin and it was really only then that I realised just how wonderful it was.
Joolz Denby: Writer and artist
I was more interested in the artwork than the music. I was just starting to become aware of psychedelic art and this was a distinctly British take on that.
Nowadays it’s easy to do something like this digitally but back then no one had seen anything like it on a record before.
I was at school and one of my teachers had us all doing illustrations to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, I can only assume she didn’t know what it meant, and I did a psychedelic drawing that got 10 out of 10, so I was well chuffed.
People forget sometimes that art affects you emotionally and the Sgt Pepper artwork was one of my earliest influences because it pushed me towards psychedelia.
Nick Simonet: owner, Revo Records, Westgate, Halifax
THE ALBUM is 50 years old this year and Revo is 30 years old this year.
I love the album and I have had it myself in many formats, on vinyl and CD. The 50th anniversary editions came out last Friday and we sold out on Friday, got a lot more on Saturday and they went as well.
We will be getting some more in. We have done the vinyl edition and there are also CD issues.
The Beatles have never gone away. They are timeless. everything about them is great - they were photogenic, funny and had the music to back it up at the same time. You can always sell the Beatles. My favourite Beatles album is Rubber Soul, then Revolver and then maybe Pepper.
With Sgt Pepper, they had gone on a different path by then, they were a studio band, able to concentrate on that. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is my favourite track on the album. The re-releases have been a good thing for record shops. It revitalises sales, with new people listening to vinyl for the first time.
Sharon Harrison: Revo Records
THERE ARE generations not born when the Beatles were out who are now buying the Beatles. The Sgt Pepper album cover is very iconic, and musically musicians were reacting to each other’s work, it was responding to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.
Sid Jones: owner, Muse Music, Hebden Bridge
I BOUGHT Pepper on reel to reel tape first, then got the mono LP very quickly afterwards - it cost half my wage of £4 10s - upgrading to the stereo after a couple of years.
I wasn’t a huge Beatles fan up to that point, but it was a revelation. 1967 was my road to Damascus, before that I wasn’t into a lot of pop music because it didn’t seem to have much to offer. In late ‘66 and ‘67 I started to get interested.
Sgt Pepper was one of the first half dozen albums I bought, others included The Move’s debut, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s Gorilla and Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn. Now I’m stocking the Pepper boxed set, double vinyl and double CD versions.