Anniversary of the Beatles Sgt Pepper Cover Shoot
Originally, it was going to be a bunch of swirly blobs of varying shades of red. Instead, it became a psychedelic statement, an attention-grabbing wonder and the most iconic album cover in music history.
In the winter of 1967, The Beatles were hard at work in the studio, crafting the dense layers of sound that would eventually become the songs on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They commissioned their pals in the Dutch design collective The Fool to paint the album's cover. Although The Fool would become well-known for other Beatles-related creations (including the psychedelic paintjob given to John Lennon's Gibson J-160E, decorations bestowed on George Harrison's Mini car and the huge mural on the band's Apple Boutique), their cover for Sgt. Pepper didn't pan out.
Robert Fraser, an art dealer and gallery owner, had become good friends with Paul McCartney because both were fixtures on the hip London art scene. After seeing The Fool's Sgt. Pepper cover, Fraser was convinced that it wasn't good enough for The Beatles. This would have to be an image that would rank with Revolver, Rubber Soul and With The Beatles – and Fraser felt The Fool's painting was poorly done and that it would be dated before it was released. Not only did he win McCartney and the boys over, he convinced them that he should be the art director for the new cover.
Fraser set to work, bringing in established British pop artist (and Fraser client) Peter Blake. Working in tandem with his wife Jann Haworth, Blake started playing with McCartney's idea that the cover would show the fictional Sgt. Pepper band performing in a park.
"We had an original meeting with all four Beatles, Robert Fraser and Brian Epstein," Blake remembered later. "Most of the subsequent talking was done with Paul at his house and with John there sometimes."
The concept eventually evolved into The Beatles dressing up as the pretend group and being surrounded by some of their pop culture and historical heroes. The last vestiges of the "park" idea surfaced in the floral display that spelled out The Beatles at the bottom of the cover. more on this story
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