Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass guitar, lead guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocal
- George Harrison – backing vocal, rhythm guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- George Martin – organ
- Neill Sanders, James W. Buck, Tony Randell, John Burden – French horn
In November of 1966, Paul McCartney conceived the idea of a record album in which the Beatles would role play individual musicians in a fictional "Lonely Hearts Club Band," which then would present a concert to an audience, the concert then being the remainder of the album. The name "Sgt. Pepper" came from the phrase "Salt and Pepper." Writing started immediately and recording took place over the next several months. The song Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was written early and recorded before the many of the remaining songs. It opens the album, introducing the band, and then leads right into With a Little Help from my Friends. At the end of the album, a reprise of the title number leads into A Day in the Life. Recording of the song commenced on February 1, 1967 and was finished up in a total of four sessions, the last one being on March 6, 1967.
The intro starts with a noisy audience and an orchestral tuning. Then the band is introduced in the song proper. The structure is symmetrical: verse-bridge-refrain-bridge-verse, followed by an instrumental segue into With a Little Help from my Friends. The band sings the song in G major, in 4/4 time, and the song's key and time signatures do not change (except for fairly conventional modulations to F and C in the bridges). A horn quartet was brought in to enrich the instrumental segments.
The album, the Beatles' eighth, was released on the first of June, 1967 (in the UK; on June 2 in the US). That was "the summer of love," and the album was seen as a causing a sea change in modern popular music worldwide. It captured the spirit of the times. Those who had predicted that the Beatles were on the wane after ending their live performance tours and retracting from the public eye were to be surprised by the overwhelming public reaction to the album. In the UK it spent nearly three years in the charts, 27 weeks of which at the top. In the US it spent over three years on the chart, 15 weeks of which were at number one. Worldwide sales topped 30 million. The album won four Grammy awards in 1968. Rolling Stone put it in the number one spot of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Eleven years later, in 1978, EMI was contractually free to re-release Beatles materials, and issued a single with the first track from the album on the a-side and A Day in the Life on the flip side. The title song of the album is also on Apple's compilation The Beatles 1967-1970 (1973) and Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999).
The Beatles never performed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band live. Three Beatles sang it with Clapton at his wedding on May 19, 1979, and Paul performed it live in his 1989 world tour. He also sang it with U2 for the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005.
Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove
This is the few seconds that ends the British version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that for some reason was originally omitted from the U.S. version.
It consists of a few seconds of 15 kilohertz tone (similar to a dog whistle) followed by two seconds of laughter and noise on the runout groove. More recently they restored this little bit, but not before it was credited as the last track on the 1980 compilation album Rarities as "Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove"