- Timeline More from year 1967
- UK release date:
- Feb 17, 1967
- US release date:
- Feb 13, 1967
The double A-side single was issued by Capitol Records in the US on 13 February 1967 (as Capitol 5810), and by EMI’s Parlophone label in the United Kingdom on 17 February (as Parlophone R 5570). Aside from the compilation album A Collection of Beatles Oldies, issued in the UK but not the US, it was the first release by the Beatles since Revolver and their August 1966 single. It was also the first Beatles single in the UK to be presented in a picture sleeve. The front of the sleeve contained a studio photo that again demonstrated the band’s adoption of facial hair; on the back cover were individual pictures of the four Beatles as infants, which heightened the connection to a Liverpool childhood. Recalling the reaction to the new single and the expectations it created for Sgt. Pepper, music critic Greil Marcus later wrote: “If this extraordinary music was merely a taste of what The Beatles were up to, what would the album be like?” Comparing the two sides in his book Electric Shock, Peter Doggett likens “Penny Lane” to pop art in its evoking “multifaceted substance out of the everyday”, and describes “Strawberry Fields Forever” as art pop, “self-consciously excluding the mass audience”. […]
In Britain, “Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane” was the first Beatles single since “Please Please Me” in 1963 to fail to reach number 1 on Record Retailer‘s chart (later the UK Singles Chart). The single was held at number 2 behind Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me”, even though the Beatles record sold considerably more. This was due to chart protocol whereby only the sales of the best-selling side of a double A-side were eligible, and the record’s overall sales were effectively halved. Following the speculation that the Beatles were due to disband, their failure to secure the number 1 spot was trumpeted in the UK press as a sign that the group’s popularity was declining. At the time, McCartney said he was not upset because Humperdinck’s song was a “completely different type of thing”, while Harrison acknowledged that “Strawberry Fields Forever”, like all of the Beatles’ latest music, was bound to alienate much of their audience but would also win them new fans. On the national chart compiled by Melody Maker magazine, however, the combination topped the singles list for three weeks.
In the US, “Penny Lane” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, while “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaked at number 8. As in Britain’s Record Retailer, “Penny Lane” was the side favoured by chart compilers in Australia, where the single was number 1 for five weeks. The single was also number 1 in Canada and Norway, and peaked at number 4 in France.
From RollingStone, May 26, 2017:
“Brian was desperate to recover popularity, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a marvelous seller,” explains Martin in the Anthology. “He 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 they’ve ever made. We could put the two together and make a smashing single.’ We did, and it was a smashing single – but it was also a dreadful mistake. […]
Beatles cut next single
BEATLES were back in the recording studios this week, working on tracks for their next single, which is expected to be released in the New Year. No titles were available from Brian Epstein, who also refused to comment on any plans for the Beatles in 1967.
Epstein also denied a rumour that Cilla Black has been tested for the film “Work Is A Four-Letter Word” and is to start shooting at Pinewood probably in January.
Christmas note : All four Beatles were planning to spend Christmas at their various homes.From Disc And Music Echo – December 24, 1966
Last updated on January 28, 2023
Dec 08, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane
Dec 21, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane
Dec 29, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane
Dec 30, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane
Sep 30, 1971