Launch party for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

Friday, May 19, 1967
Timeline More from year 1967
Location:
Brian Epstein's home, 24 Chapel Street, London, UK

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About

On the evening of this day, The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein hosted select journalists and broadcasters from the music and national press, in his London home. The occasion was a promotional party attended by the Beatles to launch their new LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“.

Once the press had sufficient time to take pictures, the Beatles stopped posing as a group and started to mingle with the other party guests. Among the photographers that night were Dezo Hoffman (who was the group’s primary photographer during 1963 and 1964), and Linda Eastman, who was meeting Paul McCartney for only the second time (the first was at the Bag O’Nails night-club, four days earlier, on May 15, 1967) and would eventually become Mrs McCartney when the two married in March 1969.

When I came to England, I wanted to photograph the Beatles, and Stevie Winwood, who had since left The Spencer Davis Group and started a group called Traffic. So that was great. And then The Beatles I wanted to photograph as well. So I took my portfolio over to Hilly House, their office, and Brian Epstein’s assistant said “Fine, you can leave your portfolio and we’ll get back to you.” So after two or three days he got back to me saying “Oh yes, Brian loved your photographs, and yes you may photograph The Beatles. They’re releasing an album called Sergeant Pepper, and they are doing a press thing at Brian’s house and you can be one of the photographers. And, by the way, Brian loved your photo of Brian Jones and one of the ones of Keith Moon.” I said, he can have them! So that’s how that happened, too. I got to photograph The Beatles, so my dreams came true.

Linda McCartney – from “Linda McCartney – Life in Photographs

I took my portfolio over to Brian Epstein’s office and left it with his assistant, Peter Brown. While I was waiting for his response I happened to meet Paul at a club called the Bag O’Nails in Kingly Street, London where I had gone with Eric Burdon and some other friends to see Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. Paul walked in after we had arrived and came and sat at the table right next to us. It was one of those “our eyes met” situations. […]

The next morning I was off photographing The Move and didn’t know whether I would ever see Paul again. However, Peter Brown got back in touch and said that Brian had liked my portfolio and invited me to a press launch for Sgt Pepper at Brian’s home. Peter also said that Brian wanted to buy copies of two of my photos – one of Keith Moon wearing a lace cravat and one of Brian Jones at The Rolling Stones boat party.

So I went to the press launch where Sgt Pepper was played for the first time to the media, to take my first photographs of The Beatles. Because I was so used to working almost exclusively with black-and-white I didn’t have any color film with me, and had to get some from another photographer. I eventually sold a color print of The Beatles from this session for $100 and I thought that I had it made!

Linda McCartney – from “Linda McCartney’s Sixties“, 1992

I got one good photo that I liked, which is that thumbs-up one. The rest are just like everyone else’s photographs, but for that one I said, ‘Oh, come on, guys! You know?’ and that shows at least they were relating, because if you believe the press you’d never think John and Paul ever related.

Linda McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

After the party, Linda Eastman flew back to New York. The next time they would meet was in May 1968, in New York, when Paul McCartney and John Lennon announced their newly-formed company, Apple.

Even though I visited England in between times, I didn’t see Paul again until he came to New York with John in May 1968 for a press conference at the Americana Hotel.

Linda McCartney – from “Linda McCartney’s Sixties“, 1992
From Facebook – Photographers at the launch party for “Sgt Pepper’s” at Brian Epstein’s Belgravia home in Chappel street, London, May 19, 1967.
From The couple Linda and Paul McCartney in 20 vintage pictures | Vogue Paris – American photographer Linda Eastman (1941 – 1998) taking photos of Paul McCartney at a press launch of The Beatles’ new album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, being held at Brian Epstein’s house at 24 Chapel Street in London, on May 19, 1967 Eastman and McCartney first met four days earlier at the Bag O’Nails club. They will get married some time later
From Facebook

Here is a depiction of the launch party, from the New Musical Express, dated May 27, 1967:

JUST a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace stands Brian Epstein’s four-storey Georgian house. On either side live doctors, business executives, architects and actors — several houses in the quiet street are up for sale.

Parked outside Epstein’s house is a Rolls-Royce but it’s not his — probably the architect’s. The car he generally uses — a white Mini — is on the other side of the street. Behind it stands a black Mini with smoked windows. It belongs to George.

The door-bell is answered by Epstein’s driver Brian, who says: “Go straight in. They’re up there somewhere.” Through the glass doors and on a shelf on the right is an antique clock — a Christmas present from Paul McCartney to Brian Epstein, who is standing beside it.

He is telling disc jockeys Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman and Kenny Everett about the LP cover. Brian is delighted with it. Also in the room is Peter Brown, Brian’s right-hand man who resembles a 30-year-old Ernest Hemingway.

In the centre of the room is a table laden with salads, radishes, fruit, cheeses, eggs, cream, hams and loads of other goodies.

The Beatles are at the moment upstairs surrounded by a horde of photographers. Brian welcomes the other guests as they arrive while Peter Brown plies them with champagne. Brian’s secretary Joanne Newfield flutters around delightfully, making everyone feel at home and the Beatles’ press officer Tony Barrow distributes cigarettes.

Photographers start coming down the stairs then road manager Neil Aspinall — now wearing a moustache — appears with the group.

“Just one more shot on the doorstep boys,” Tony Barrow instructs the photographers.

Two minutes later the Beatles reappear minus the photographers. George and John head for the table and start eating, Paul tries to, but is cornered by two enthusiastic writers. Ringo stands smoking and talking to Jimmy Savile who’s wearing a jacket which looks like one of Fatty Arbuckle’s cast-offs.

Paul is trapped over at the window by the two scribes and begins looking round for someone to rescue him, Tony Barrow asks everyone to go upstairs to the lounge. Everyone wanders up to the spacious lounge where the LP is playing. For a couple of hours everyone chats and drinks.

Brian Epstein leaves early to head to his country cottage in Sussex. George is the first Beatle to leave — somewhat abruptly. One writer has apparently put his foot in it and upset him.

The other three slowly drift off and the evening draws to a close.

From Paul McCartney on his lyrics: ‘Eroticism was a driving force behind everything I wrote’ | Times2 | The Times – The Beatles at the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band press launch, London, May 19, 1967 – MPL ARCHIVE © PAUL MCCARTNEY/MPL COMMUNICATIONS INC/LTD

Last updated on October 19, 2021

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