The Beatles iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, celebrates its 50th anniversary this June, and a rumored reissue of the 1967 classic could contain two songs that were essential to the band’s career, but never made it onto the original release.
The Beatles official Twitter and Facebook accounts recently teased that something is brewing ahead of the Sgt. Pepper anniversary. The band’s social media accounts posted a four-color image that corresponds with the color scheme of the outfits that the Beatles were wearing on the original Sgt. Pepper album cover.
— The Beatles (@thebeatles) March 31, 2017
In addition, the Sunday Times revealed that a Sgt. Pepper reissue is not only in the works, but that Apple Corps insiders have said the 50th anniversary release will include the songs “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” two of the Beatles’ biggest hits of the era that were foolishly released as a double A-sided single four months before the release of Sgt. Pepper and weren’t included on the album.
While the February 1967 release of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” has since been described as the greatest 45-rpm record ever produced, Beatles producer George Martin once said the decision to release the songs in that manner was the “biggest mistake” of his professional life, according to Gibson.com.
— Beatles Fab 4 Ever (@beatlesfab4ever) March 30, 2017
In The Beatles Anthology, Martin explained his reasons behind keeping the songs off the Sgt. Pepper album.
“The only reason that ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’ didn’t go onto the new album was a feeling that if we issued a single, it shouldn’t go onto an album,” the Beatles producer revealed.
“That was a crazy idea, and I’m afraid I was partly responsible. It’s nonsense these days, but in those days in was an aspect that we’d try to give the public value for money. Brian [Epstein] came to me and said, ‘I must have a really great single. What have you got?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve got three tracks – and two of them are the best tracks [Lennon and McCartney] have ever written.’ So, we put them together ….”
While the A-side singles weren’t included, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album spawned several memorable songs, including “When I’m 64,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “A Day in the Life.”
While The Beatles never appeared on the teen music show American Bandstand, in 1967, Dick Clark debuted videos for “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” At the time, the studio audience seemed more concerned with Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s longer hair and mustaches than the music.
In a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon talked about how he came up with the titles for two of the Beatles’ most famous songs.
“It is a name, it’s a nice name,” the legendary Beatles singer said.
“When I was writing ‘In My Life’ – I was trying ‘Penny Lane’ at that time – we were trying to write about Liverpool, and I just listed all the nice sounding names just arbitrarily. Strawberry Fields was a place near us that happened to be a Salvation Army home. But Strawberry Fields – I mean I have visions of Strawberry Fields. And there was Penny Lane, the Cast Iron Shore which I’ve just got in some song now, and they were just good names, just groovy names. Just good sounding. Because Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go.”
Nearly there: Sgt. Pepper's… cover shoot. It was 50 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/iX0DriYu4g
— Paul McLoone (@PMcLoone) March 30, 2017
The original cover for the Sgt. Pepper album featured a collage of 57 photographs of famous people, ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Edgar Allan Poe. In addition, the original recording came with its own cut-outs and hand-outs, including paper mustaches and sergeant stripes, so that the record was to be an interactive experience between The Beatles and their fans.
“We wanted the whole of Sgt. Pepper to be so that you could look at the front cover for years,” McCartney said, according to Rolling Stone.
Fifty years later, the iconic Sgt. Pepper album may have a similar look, but it may not play the same way.
[Featured Image by John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images]