41. 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: February 1 and 2, March 3 and 6, 1967
Released: June 2, 1967
Not released as a single
The Beatles were looking for a way to kill their old Fab Four image altogether by late 1966, and McCartney had an idea: "I thought, 'Let's not be ourselves,'" he said, and suggested that they invent a fake band. "Everything about the album," McCartney said, "will be imagined from the perspective of these people, so it doesn't have to be the kind of song you want to write, it could be the song they might want to write." McCartney proposed the mock-Victorian-era "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (the name came from a joke with roadie Mal Evans about salt and pepper packets), and he wrote a title song to introduce the premise at the album's outset: a fiery piece of psychedelic hard rock. The Beatles were all fans of Jimi Hendrix; McCartney saw Hendrix play two nights before they recorded "Pepper." Hendrix was paying attention right back: He played "Pepper" to open his live show in London two days after the album's U.S. release.
Appears On: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
• The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
• Rolling Stone's 1987 Review of the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
• Readers Poll: The Best Album Covers of All Time