March - April 1967
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Jann Haworth (born 1942) is a British-American pop artist. A pioneer of soft sculpture, she is best known as the co-creator of The Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Haworth is also an advocate for feminist rights especially for the representation of women in the art world. […]
Gallery owner Robert Fraser suggested to The Beatles that they commission Peter Blake and Haworth to design the cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The original concept was to have The Beatles dressed in their new “Northern brass band” uniforms appearing at an official ceremony in a park. For the great crowd gathered at this imaginary event, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, as well as Haworth, Blake, and Fraser, all submitted a list of characters they wanted to see in attendance. Blake and Haworth then pasted life-size, black-and-white photographs of all the approved characters onto hardboard, which Haworth subsequently hand-tinted. Haworth also added several cloth dummies to the assembly, including one of her “Old Lady” figures and a Shirley Temple doll who wears a “Welcome The Rolling Stones” sweater. Inspired by the municipal flower-clock in Hammersmith, West London, Haworth also came up with the idea of writing out the name of the band in civic flower-bed lettering. […]
In 2004, Haworth began work on SLC PEPPER, a 50-feet × 30-feet civic wall mural in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, representing an updated version of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. As Haworth stated, “The original album cover, famous though it is, is an icon ready for the iconoclast. We will be turning the original inside out… ethnic and gender balancing, and evaluating for contemporary relevance.” Together with over thirty local, national, and international artists of all ages, Haworth created a new set of “heroes and heroines of the 21st century” in stencil graffiti, replacing each of the personalities depicted in the original. Only the Beatles’ jackets remain as metal cut-outs with head and hand holes so that visitors may “become part of the piece” by taking souvenir photos. The first phase of the mural’s construction was completed in 2005. SLC PEPPER remains an ongoing arts project, where local artists will continue to add to its design.
Among the more than 100 new people included in SLC PEPPER are: Adbusters, Akira Kurosawa, Alice, Alice Walker, Annie Lennox, Banksy’s Rat, B.B. King, Beastie Boys, Benicio del Toro, Billie Holiday, Björk, Bob Marley, César Chávez, Charlize Theron, Cindy Sherman, Dalai Lama, David Bowie, David Hockney, Ellen DeGeneres, Erykah Badu, Eudora Welty, Enid (Thora Birch), Eve Ensler, Felix the Cat, Frank Zappa, Frida Kahlo, Garrison Keillor, Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gore Vidal, Guerrilla Girls, Harvey Pekar, Hedwig, Howard Zinn, Jackie Robinson, Jane Goodall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Bridges, Katharine Hepburn, Laurie Anderson, Lee Krasner, Little My and the Snork Maiden, Louise Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Maya Lin, Miles Davis, Mother Jones, Muddy Waters, Nelson Mandela, Pablo Picasso, Peter Gabriel, Robert Rauschenberg, Ray Charles, Richard Feynman, Rosa Parks, Samuel Beckett, Sojourner Truth, Sylvia Plath, Terry Gilliam, Tom Waits, Thom Yorke, Toni Morrison, and Tony Kushner. […]
In February / March 1967, The Beatles had approached The Fool, a Dutch design collective and band in the psychedelic style of art, to come up with the artwork for their new album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Marijke Koger, a member of the collective, presented a rough concept that initially excited The Beatles. However, they discussed it with their friend and art dealer, Robert Fraser, who discouraged them from using the psychedelic artwork by Marijke Koger and instead suggested that they approach the pop artists Peter Blake and his then-wife Jann Haworth for the album artwork.
Over a series of meetings at Paul McCartney’s London home, in EMI Studios at Abbey Road or in the artists’ home, the cover concept started to emerge.
In the end, the front of the LP includes a colourful collage featuring the Beatles in costume as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, standing with a group of life-sized cardboard cut-outs of famous people. The centre of the cover depicts the Beatles standing behind a bass drum on which fairground artist Joe Ephgrave painted the words of the album’s title. In front of the drum is an arrangement of flowers that spell out “Beatles”. The group are dressed in satin day-glo-coloured military-style uniforms that were manufactured by the London theatrical costumer M. Berman Ltd. Next to the Beatles are wax sculptures of the band members in their suits and moptop haircuts from the Beatlemania era, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. Amid the greenery are figurines of the Eastern deities Buddha and Lakshmi.
Jann Haworth’s contributions to the cover was to have The Beatles’ name spelled out in flowers and to bring 3D elements that bled into the 2D collage of life-sized cardboard cut-outs of famous people.
When we were designing the cover Paul came over to our house in Chiswick and I showed him a sketch of how we could spell out ‘Beatles’ in flowers, like they do with civic clocks,” she says. “Paul liked the idea, and we planned to use colourful little flowers like cyclamen. But when the florist arrived, he brought horrible hyacinths which are tall and thin, and made it much harder to spell anything.
We spent almost two weeks constructing the set at the studio of photographer Michael Cooper, who shot the final image. We were printing black and white images of the celebrity faces, gluing them to hardboard, cutting them out with a jig-saw, and fixing them to the backdrop. I hand-coloured most myself. I started with Tyrone Power, which is why he looks as orange as Donald Trump. I went lighter with the colour after that.
At the last minute Madame Tussauds agreed to lend us their four Beatles waxwork figures, plus Diana Dors, HG Wells, Lawrence of Arabia and Sonny Liston. Paul invited us to his home, driving through a crowd of screaming, crying fans, to play us a few tracks from the album. I wish I’d heard Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, because I would have painted the sky black instead of blue.Jann Haworth – From Express.co.uk, May 13, 2017
The part that’s very much my own was that I always hated lettering on things. I loved the idea that lettering could be an integral part, and I was into fairground lettering at the time. So I thought it would be nice to have a real object with lettering on it, instead of lettering the cover. So I thought about the drum, then about the civic lettering that was around at that time. We pointed out to Paul the Hammersmith lettering: You could do it like that.
What I wanted was that very tight, little ice plants, a very tight floral near-tothe-ground thing. I discussed all this on the phone with the florists. Then they turned up with all these dumb plants — hyacinths. And then only a quarter of what we needed to cover the whole thing. After all these instructions. At least when they set it out you could read the word ‘Beatles’, but it was very much a failure in terms of the original concept.
The other part I felt very strongly about was that when you went from the front, you wanted to have that connecting point of 3-D things that bled into the 2-D things, as we were not doing it as artwork. This bothered Peter a lot later, because it was so retouched, so messed about, the photograph, it ended up looking like artwork, a collage done on paper, rather than a set that was built. Madame Tussaud’s were very generous, lending us some figures, and then the Beatles were going to be in front of the crowd, and I put some of my figures in, and that blended the 3-D world into the 2-D world.Jann Haworth – From “Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser” by Harriet Vyner, 1999
Quite a lot of the artists mixed with musicians, probably because a lot of the musicians had been to art school; but the music thing didn’t really hit me until The Beatles came to London. I was with Peter [Blake] by then, and I think he was really the link between Robert [Fraser] and the pop world. It was Peter who introduced Robert to The Beatles, and then when Robert saw the intended cover for Sgt. Pepper he told them, “That’s no good. You should get Peter and Jann to do it.” A very strange scene met us the first time we went over to the studio. The Beatles were recording, and their ‘court’ of Marianne Faithfull and all these weird spaced-out people sat around the walls. Peter and I were probably the only people who were stone-cold sober. It was really funny, two very upright people doing this psychedelia. We didn’t know until quite late on whether they would actually use our cover or not. The cover that The Fool had done looked quite groovy, and I don’t think George was too happy about abandoning it. They did use ours, of course; but in the end it was totally cocked up, because the plates were wrong. The photograph was beautiful but the reproduction was absolutely lousy. It would be loverly to see it done properly sometime.
The cover for the White Album was Richard Hamilton’s idea, not Yoko’s. When he stipulated plain white for the cover there was a great hoo-ha, because he was clearly reacting against Sgt. Pepper — throwing down the artistic gauntlet. Richard was senior to Peter, and every time Peter was interviewed he’d be asked the same boring question: “Do vou see yourself as the Father of Pop Art, or do you think that title belongs to Richard Hamilton?”
They were a white boy band. I wasn’t that interested in that music. […] It’s just a record cover and I don’t think that’s very important.Jann Haworth – From Artist Jann Haworth: ‘Sgt Pepper’s is just a record cover and I don’t think that’s very important’ (ft.com), June 5, 2023
My father was an Oscar-winning production designer on films including Some Like It Hot, The Longest Day and Sayonara. I grew up on film sets and often saw my father craft scenes with two-dimensional cut-out figures in the background where they could look like a crowd. It was my idea that the front row be three-dimensional with The Beatles, behind them mannequins and full-size fabric dolls that I crafted, and behind those a two-dimensional flat frame filled with celebrity faces.
We wanted at least 70 figures and asked The Beatles to list their heroes. But McCartney and John Lennon combined barely suggested 20 names. George Harrison came up with a few Indian gurus that we included. Ringo claims that he came up with no one but I remember he selected the music-hall artist Issy Bonn, plus another celebrity who never made it on to the cover. John wanted Adolf Hitler, which I thought was a very ugly choice, beyond provocative. I have no idea what his thinking was. I think he has clay feet. We decided not to use Hitler. Aleister Crowley [a prominent satanist who had died in 1947] also made me uncomfortable. I don’t like the occult but he stayed in.
John also wanted Gandhi and Jesus on the cover, but using Jesus seemed sacrilegious, and The Beatles management decided not to use Gandhi because it might hurt sales in India, so both were dropped.
Looking back, I’m horrified that of 71 famous faces, the Beatles chose no women. Peter and I added only 12 women and three of those were Shirley Temple. The rest were pin-ups, mannequins or blondes such as Mae West and Diana Dors. If we made the cover today we would never have allowed such inequality. It’s partly my fault. I take responsibility. I should have known better.Jann Haworth – From Express.co.uk, May 13, 2017
For Haworth, artistic renewal came through an unexpected reckoning in the early 2000s with Sgt Pepper, when she found a list compiled by Rolling Stone which proclaimed the Beatles album cover the greatest of all time. She re-examined it to discover that of its 65 people, only 13 were women, three of them Shirley Temple, although one was Haworth’s mannequin of the child actress. By way of apology and rebuttal, in 2005 Haworth did an outdoor mural in Salt Lake City called “SLC Pepper” which corrected the original’s gender and ethnic bias.From Artist Jann Haworth: ‘Sgt Pepper’s is just a record cover and I don’t think that’s very important’ (ft.com), June 5, 2023
Last updated on February 7, 2024