Sgt. Pepper 50 Years Old

June 1, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  On his website, McCartney recounts how the title came to be: [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?
Paul McCartney [PM]: Yeah! Well, what really happened was I was coming back from a trip abroad with our roadie, Mal Evans, just the two of us together on the plane. And we were eating and he mumbled to me, asked me to pass the salt and pepper. And I misheard him. He said [mumbles] “saltandpepper”. I go, “Sergeant Pepper?” I thought he said, “Sergeant Pepper”. I went, “Oh! Wait a minute, that’s a great idea!” So we had a laugh about it, then I started thinking about Sergeant Pepper as a character. I thought it would be a very interesting idea for us to assume alter egos for this album we were about to make.

So that’s what we did. And yeah, I started doing drawings of how the band might look. I sort of got this military look thing going and one of my ideas was that they were being presented by the Lord Mayor of some Northern town in a park. And in the old days they used to have floral clocks, they called them. It was like a clock that was made out of flowers. So I did drawings of the floral clock and then, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”, AKA The Beatles, getting an award. So they’ve got a big cup and they’re getting some sort of award from the town.

So that’s where the idea came from and then I just talked to all the guys and said, “What do you think of this idea?” They liked it and I said, “It will mean, when I approach the mic, it’s not Paul McCartney. I don’t have to think this is a Paul McCartney song”. So it was freeing. It was quite liberating.

So, you know, we didn’t keep that idea up all the time, but that was the basic idea that we would make something that was very free. Something that this other band might make, instead of doing something that we thought The Beatles ought to make. It originally came from that mishearing of salt and pepper!

What do you remember about hearing the album for the first time?

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London 1967


What the media focused on:


Yes, some people were “swinging.”  Others were involved in political protests and new ways of living.

From the Radical History Review byAnne-Marie Angelo

The Black Panthers in London, 1967 – 1972: A Diasporic Struggle Navigates the Black Atlantic

“Here, the symbols, chants, and demands of the U.S. Black Panther Party (USBPP) crossed the Atlantic, stimulating shared racial and class identifications across national borders and intersecting with these Afro-Britons who identified themselves as the British Black Power Movement from 1967 to 1968 and as the British Black Panther Movement (BBPM) from 1968 to 1972. As the first Black Panther Movement to form independently outside the United States, the British Panthers took their ideological inspiration from the U.S. Panthers. The U.K. Panthers appropriated the U.S. Panthers’ revolutionary aesthetic as a model for protest, necessary violence, and for engaging with the state. The “Definition of Black Power” flyer that protestors had distributed revealed that its authors thought their plight was part of an international anticapitalist struggle asserting that the history of the oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Americas over the last four hundred years has demonstrated that the world has been divided into two irreconcilable camps. A handful of western capitalist imperialist nations have mercilessly oppressed and exploited the broad toiling masses and ravaged the material wealth of the three continents. That the well- being of the imperialist nations rests on the hundreds of millions of broken backs in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas is the reality.”

Wages and Cost of Living in 1967

From Jaki in London: “1967: Girls temping got nine shillings an hour before tax; needed a male guarantor to get credit. Not much swinging.”


From Woman’s Realm magazine. 1967

Income:  Husband earns £700 after tax

Expenses: £700

• Mortgage £60

• Rates £21 10s

• Insurance (house and personal) £36 10s

• Saving cerificates £52

• Coal £35

• Gas and Elec £52

• Clothes £52

• Holiday savings £52

• Husbands pocket money £75

• Food, cleaning materials and extras: £264


First cash-out (ATM) machine

John Shepherd-Barron, managing director of De La Rue Instruments in the 1960’s, wondered:  if he could get chocolate from a machine, why not cash? This was in an era when most banks still opened at 10:00 a.m. and closed at 3:00 or 3.30 p.m.. Mr Shepherd-Barron’s machine required single-use cheques impregnated with mildly radioactive carbon 14 put in the machine, and cash – the maximum being £10 – dispensed in return. Like today, a PIN number was needed for access. Four digits were decided on as his wife thought she couldn’t hope to recall more than four figures. The first of his machines opened in London’s borough of Enfield on June 27 1967 with actor Reg Varney being its first customer.

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