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Friday, May 19, 1967

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

Last updated on May 6, 2024

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 we launched the Sgt Pepper LP, we considered, for a long time, the best way to do it. Finally, we decided to have a party at my pad. It was difficult to decide whom to invite. We wanted people who were close to us and people who would spread the word. I suppose we had about fifteen journalists there. It proved a good idea because the story went round the world…

Brian Epstein – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

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

The girl who turned up at Chapel Street that May nineteenth wasn’t the same sloppily dressed girl I had seen in my office a few days before. Her shiny blond hair was cut and washed and combed in a long, sweeping line under her chin. She wore impeccably applied makeup, including long, fluttering false eyelashes. She was dressed in a King’s Road double-breasted, striped, barbershop jacket, with a short skirt that showed off her long legs. She held her Nikon in front of her and used it aggressively, probing with her lens. It wasn’t long before she zeroed in on Paul. Paul sat in a chair by the fireplace in the lounge, dressed in pencil-striped trousers and a gray, striped jacket, nervously smoking cigarettes. He watched as Linda sank to her knees in front of the chair and began snapping photos of him. Although she tried to manage otherwise, she left with all the other photographers.

Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002

Linda was in a mini-skirt, a Candy stripe blazer, with a camera in her hand. She cornered Paul and they talked a lot. They obviously enjoyed each other’s company.

Ray Coleman – Journalist – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

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 – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

From Facebook
‘The Beatles And The Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – from thebeatles.com
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
From The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
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 – Photographers at the launch party for “Sgt Pepper’s” at Brian Epstein’s Belgravia home in Chappel street, London, May 19, 1967.
From The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)

BEATLES HIT BACK AT BBC BAN ON SONG

THE Beatles hit out at the BBC last night after hearing that a song from their new LP album has been banned, on the ground that it “could encourage a permissive attitude to drug-taking.” The song, “A Day In The Life,” is one of the
tracks from the long-player “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” And it is the first Beatles number ever to be banned by the BBC. In it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney tell of catching a bus, having a smoke and going off into a dream.

At a dinner party in the Belgravia home of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein last night, Paul McCartney said: “The BBC have misinterpreted the song. It has nothing to do with drug taking. It’s only about a dream.

John Lennon said “The laugh is that Paul and I wrote this song from a headline in a newspaper. It’s about a crash and its victim. How anyone can read drugs into it is beyond me. Everyone seems to be falling overboard to see the word drug in the most innocent of phrases.

A BBC spokesman said earlier: “We have listened to this song over and over again. “And we have decided that it appears to go just a little too far, and could encourage a permissive attitude to drug taking. Therefore we have decided not to broadcast this particular song.

With a 1,000,000-plus order for their new album, the Beatles were in a gay mood at the party in spite of the ban. John Lennon wore the most way-out gear … a green lacey shirt and a sporran over his corduroy trousers. “I’ve got no pockets in my trousers, and the sporran is handy to keep your fags in,” he said.

From Daily Mirror – May 20, 1967
From Daily Mirror – May 20, 1967

DINNER WITH THE BEATLES

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 New Musical Express – May 27, 1967
From New Musical Express – May 27, 1967

JACK HUTTON VISITS A… Beatle listen-in

THE Beatles, innovators as always, last week bestowed a new experience on the pop scene — the LISTEN-IN. They commandeered Brian Epstein’s luxurious townhouse in Chapel Street, London, SW1, played their new LP, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” at full volume and shouted pleasantly at their guests for several hours.

Downstairs, a long genuine antique table groaned, as they say, under huge dishes of cold meats and vegetables served by white-jacketed waiters. To drink there was a choice of gazpacho, a cold soup, or champers. The champers won handsomely.

The “ boys,” as they are affectionately known by their management, were in fine fettle. Lennon won the sartorial stakes with a green, flower-patterned shirt, red cord trousers, yellow socks and what looked like cord shoes. His ensemble was completed by a sporran. With his bushy sideboards and National Health specs he resembled an animated Victorian watchmaker.

Paul McCartney, sans moustache, wore a loosely tied scarf over a shirt, a striped double breasted jacket and looked like someone out of a Scott Fitzgerald novel.

They both spoke volubly about many things, such as the BBC ban on “A Day In The Life,” one of the LP tracks. Said Paul: “John woke up one morning and read the Daily Mail. The news stories gave him the ideas for the song. The man goes up the song. The man goes upstairs on a bus for a smoke. Everybody does that kind of thing. But what does the BBC say? Smoking? SMOKING? S-M-O-K-I-N-G? Well, BBC, he was actually smoking Park Drive! Even people at the BBC do these things. So, face it, BBC! You can read a double meaning into anything if you want to. But we don’t care if they ban our songs. It might help the LP. They’ll play the other tracks. It’s exciting to see the way an LP goes. To see how many different things can be taken from it.”

Both Paul and John laughed off the suggestion that “Sgt Pepper” might be their last LP as a group. “Rubbish,” said Lennon, but he went on to confirm that their touring days were over. “No more tours, no more mop tops. We could never hear ourselves playing properly. Anyway, what more could we do after playing to 56,000 people. What next? More fame? More money? We were travelling all over the world and couldn’t move outside our hotel.”

Now they feel they still give themselves, via albums, to their public, but they don’t have to pay so much.

Says Paul: “I even went on a bus from Liverpool to Chester the other day without much trouble. There was just a moustache involved. And nearly every morning I take my dog for a walk in Regents Park.”

The musical ideas of Lennon and McCartney seem to be expanding all the time. These ideas encompass a whole spectrum of sounds — mechanical, orchestral, electronic, animal, vegetable, mineral.

They are becoming less and less concerned with their own playing. “I don’t practise,” says John. “I only played guitar to accompany myself singing. You could study all your life and become the best bassoonist in Israel. So what? “I like producing records. I want to do it all. I want a machine that produces all sounds. Studying music was like learning French. If there was a new method of learning music—yeah. But the present method is archaic.”

“We were never musicians,” agreed Paul. “ In Hamburg we got a lot of practice, But reading music for us is unnecessary.”

Paul conducted the 41-piece band heard on the banned track “A Day In The Life” and he felt initially embarrassed facing that sea of sessioners. “So I decided to treat them like human beings and not professional musicians. I tried to give myself to them. We chatted and drank champagne.”

John dislikes what he calls “factory musicians.”

“Classical players are best on records. They can play anything. Jazzmen are the worst. They can only play from there to there…” He placed his open palms two inches apart. “… and they all want to sound like Ronnie Scott or somebody else.”

Lennon’s views are equally trenchant about jazz styles. He doesn’t dig dixieland and mainstream. “It’s dying man — like the Black And White Minstrels.

“I like John Coltrane but I don’t get to the clubs much because it’s embarrassing. The so-called experts laugh at you — ‘there’s a Beatle in the audience folks.’ It’s probably my blame, but that’s what I feel.”

However, he promised the MM he would go to hear Charles Lloyd’s quartet when they play London on June 17. And to prove it Lennon borrowed a pen and wrote CHARLES LLOYD in big letters on the back of his sporran.

From Melody Maker – May 27, 1967
From Melody Maker – May 27, 1967
From Record Mirror – June 17, 1967
From Record Mirror – June 17, 1967

BEATLES’ DINNER PARTY – BY KENNY EVERETT

Just before the release of the new album there was a “Sgt. Pepper” dinner party at Brian Epstein’s house in Belgravia. His idea was that The Beatles invited a few journalists to come along and spend an evening with them, chat, eat, drink and hear “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Various deejays like Alan Freeman, Jimmy Savile and myself being thrown into the invitation list for good measure. For the first few hours we stood in the dining room discussing the album which was playing in the background.

The boys themselves were in an unusually talkative mood that night and were pouring forth with all sorts of interesting tit-bits of info about the LP. They were dressed in the usual Beatle-type garb consisting of a million different colours. John wore red trousers with a green shirt which had yellow flowers leaping about all over it. No pockets in his trousers of course so a sporran was the natural thing to wear — well, it was for him anyway!

Later, when most of the writers had got their stories, I managed to get John, Paul, George and Ringo to come upstairs into the study where it was very quiet. Just what I needed — a place to tape comments from each of them for the special “Sgt. Pepper” album programme I was doing for the Light (“Where It’s At”) the following afternoon. So — tapes at the ready — I fired away!

Apparently the first track the boys worked on was “When I’m 64”. This extremely simple but very effective number was written by Paul last September. I think I would have guessed that Paul was responsible even if he hadn’t told me ‘cos it just seems to be his type of thing.

According to John there is no set pattern for sitting down to write a number. If one day Paul calls round at John’s house (or vice versa!) for a cup of tea suddenly something in the air can call for a song to be written. The bare skeleton is put down in their heads. Then when they’ve got it figured out it’s taken to George Martin who puts it into dots and arranges it.

At various places in the album — especially on songs like “Lucy” and “Little Bit of Help” — you may have noticed a weird sound. Paul calls this “phasing” and it occurs when you re-record the original sound (voice or instruments) and then play both copies alongside one another. Almost together (in sync, you know) but not quite so that one copy of the recording is very slightly ahead of the other by a split second. If you get all that you know how it’s done. If you don’t you shouldn’t worry — just sit back and enjoy “phasing”!

The biggest thing on the boys’ minds at the moment — apart from producing records — is a new type of religion of the mind. George practices it most and is completely obsessed with love-your-neighbour. Buddhism is the closest thing I can think of to compare with this way of thinking. Anyway, whatever it is, it’s beautiful and everybody should be like that. We had long chats that night and Paul was abundantly talkative.

From The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967
From The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967

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.

When Linda returned home to America, her close friend, Lillian Roxon, America’s doyenne of rock critics, found a picture of Paul and Linda taken by another photographer at the party. She sent it to Linda, who blew the picture up big enough to cover her bathroom door. She looked at it every day for two months, as if she could will him back to her.

Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002

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


Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."

We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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