The Paul McCartney Project

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a song written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and first recorded and released in 1967, on the album of the same name by the Beatles. The song appears twice on the album: as the opening track (segueing into “With a Little Help from My Friends“), and as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)“, the penultimate track (segueing into “A Day in the Life“). As the title song, the lyrics introduce the fictional band that performs on the album.

Since its original album release, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” has also been released on various Beatles singles and compilation albums. The song has also been performed by several other artists, including Jimi Hendrix, U2, and a comic interpretation by Bill Cosby, using the opening to John Philip Sousa’s Washington Post March as the instrumental bridge.

Authorship and recording

In November 1966, on the flight back to England after a holiday, McCartney conceived an idea in which an entire album would be role-played, with each of the Beatles assuming an alter-ego in the “Lonely Hearts Club Band“, which would then perform a concert in front of an audience. The inspiration is said to have come when roadie Mal Evans innocently asked McCartney what the letters “S” and “P” stood for on the pots on their in-flight meal trays, and McCartney explained it was for salt and pepper. This then led to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band concept, as well as the song.

The group’s road manager, Neil Aspinall, suggested the idea of Sgt. Pepper being the compère, as well as the reprise at the end of the album. According to his diaries, Evans may have also contributed to the song. John Lennon attributed the idea for Sgt. Pepper to McCartney, although the song is officially credited to Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles recorded the track in Abbey Road’s studio 2, with George Martin producing, and Geoff Emerick engineering. Work on the song started on 1 February 1967, and after three further sessions the recording was completed on 6 March 1967.

Song structure

On the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the song opens to the sound of a chattering audience, and an orchestra tuning up, which was taken from the 10 February orchestra session for “A Day in the Life“. The crowd sounds edited into the song were recorded in the early 1960s by Martin, during a live recording of the stage show Beyond the Fringe. The song’s structure is:

  1. Introduction (instrumental)
  2. Verse
  3. Bridge (instrumental)
  4. Refrain
  5. Bridge
  6. Verse
  7. Instrumental bridge and transition into “With a Little Help from My Friends”.

The song is in G major, with a 4/4 meter. A horn quartet was used to fill out the instrumental sections.

Reprise

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” is a modified repeat of the opening song at a faster tempo with heavier instrumentation. The track opens with McCartney’s count-in (retained in the manner of “I Saw Her Standing There“, the opening song on the Beatles’ first album); between 2 and 3, Lennon jokingly interjects “Bye!” Ringo Starr starts the song proper by playing the drum part unaccompanied for four bars, at the end of which a brief bass glissando from McCartney cues the full ensemble of two distorted electric guitars (played by George Harrison and Lennon), bass, drums and overdubbed percussion. In addition, McCartney overdubbed a Hammond organ part onto the track.

While the first version of the song had stayed largely in the key of G major (except for transient modulation to F and perhaps C in the bridges), the reprise starts in F and features a modulation, to G. The mono and stereo mixes of the song differ slightly: the former has a fractionally different transition from the previous song, and includes crowd noise and laughter in the opening bars that are absent from the stereo mix.

The idea for a reprise was Aspinall’s, who thought that as there was a “welcome song“, there should also be a “goodbye song“. The song contains broadly the same melody as the opening version, but with different lyrics and omitting the “It’s wonderful to be here” section. At 1:18, it is one of the Beatles’ shorter songs (the shortest is “Her Majesty” at 0:23). The reprise was recorded on 1 April 1967, two months after the version that opens the album. At the end of the track, Martin’s pre-recorded applause sample segues into the final track of the album, “A Day in the Life“.

Releases

It was originally released in the UK on 1 June 1967, and in the US on 2 June 1967 on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP.

When the Beatles’ recording contract with EMI expired in 1976, EMI were free to re-release music from the Beatles’ catalogue, and in 1978 issued “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”/”With a Little Help from My Friends” as the A-side of a single, with “A Day in the Life” as the B-side. The single was released on Capitol in the US on 14 August (closely following the release there of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film), reaching number 71 on 30 September 1978 where it stayed for two weeks. The single was issued on Parlophone in the UK in September.

The original recording of the song is included on the Beatles compilation albums 1967-1970 (1973) and Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999). A run-through of the reprise is included on the outtakes album Anthology 2 (1996).

In 2006, the reprise was re-released on the album Love, which was a theatrical production by Cirque du Soleil. The updated version is a remix featuring samples of other Beatles’ songs and fades out before the cross-fade into “A Day in the Life“.

The notebook used by McCartney containing the lyrics for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and other songs was put up for sale in 1998.

Live performances

In 1967, Jimi Hendrix played the song live at the Saville Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, which was leased by Brian Epstein, only three days after it had been released on record, with McCartney and Harrison in the audience. Another live version by Hendrix recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival was included on a posthumous live album, Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was never performed live by the Beatles. It was performed by three of the former band members (McCartney, Harrison and Starr) plus Eric Clapton on 19 May 1979, at Clapton’s wedding party.

Paul McCartney played it live on the 1989–90 Paul McCartney World Tour. On subsequent tours he would play the reprise version and use that as a segue into “The End“. When the performance is released, it usually is listed as “Sgt. Pepper’s/The End“, shortening the name of the song. When McCartney performs it, he usually adds the count-in after the drum part begins, as opposed to McCartney’s count-in preceding the drum opening. […]

McCartney and U2 played the song at the start of the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London on 2 July 2005. The song, starting with “It was twenty years ago, today“, was chosen amongst others to commemorate that Live 8 took place approximately twenty years after Live Aid. The single was released for charity on iTunes, and set a world record for the fastest-selling online song of all time. […]

On 4 April 2009, McCartney performed the song during a benefit concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and segued it into “With a Little Help From My Friends“, sung by Starr. […]

On 9 February 2014, during a tribute show commemorating the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, 50 years earlier, McCartney again sang “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Starr sang “With a Little Help From My Friends“.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 6 Mar 1967. crossfaded 6 Apr 1967.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    US: Capitol MAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
  • [b] stereo 6 Mar 1967. crossfaded 7 Apr 1967.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967, Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
    US: Capitol SMAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967, Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46442 2 Sgt Pepper 1987, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

The crossfade joins this song to With a Little Help From My Friends.

The lead guitar starting around “I don’t really want to stop the show” is louder in mono [a], barely there in [b]. The crowd noise differs between the two and the crossfade is less well hidden in mono [a].

Last updated on December 3, 2016

Lyrics

It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile

So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sit back and let the evening go
Sgt. Pepper's lonely, Sgt. Pepper's lonely
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

It's wonderful to be here
It's certainly a thrill
You're such a lovely audience
We'd like to take you home with us
We'd love to take you home

I don't really want to stop the show
But I thought that you might like to know
That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along

So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears
And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Officially appears on


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1967

2:03 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Neil Sanders:
French horn
James W Buck:
French horn
Tony Randall:
French horn
John Burden:
French horn

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Feb 02, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 03, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 06, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1967

2:03 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Neil Sanders:
French horn
James W Buck:
French horn
Tony Randall:
French horn
John Burden:
French horn

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Feb 02, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 03, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 06, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Tripping The Live Fantastic

Official live • Released in 1990

6:24 • LiveL1

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensChris Whitten
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Eddie Klein:
Assistant engineer
Matt Butler:
Assistant engineer
Peter Henderson:
Producer
Bob Clearmountain:
Mixing engineer, Producer
Jeff Cohen:
Recording engineer
Geoff Foster:
Assistant engineer
Scott Hull:
Assistant engineer
George Cowan:
Assistant engineer
Paul Rushbrook:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Nov 23, 1989


Tripping the Live Fantastic: Highlights!

Official live • Released in 1990

6:21 • LiveL1

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensChris Whitten
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Eddie Klein:
Assistant engineer
Matt Butler:
Assistant engineer
Peter Henderson:
Producer
Bob Clearmountain:
Mixing engineer, Producer
Jeff Cohen:
Recording engineer
Geoff Foster:
Assistant engineer
Scott Hull:
Assistant engineer
George Cowan:
Assistant engineer
Paul Rushbrook:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Nov 23, 1989


Yellow Submarine Songtrack

Official album • Released in 1999

2:02 • Studio versionR1999

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Neil Sanders:
French horn
James W Buck:
French horn
Tony Randall:
French horn
John Burden:
French horn
Paul Hicks:
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles:
Remix engineer assistant
Peter Cobbin:
Remix engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Feb 02, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 03, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 06, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

4:40 • LiveL2 • Medley with "The End"

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Ft. Lauderdale, USA on May 17, 2002


Live 8

Single • Released in 2005

2:24 • Live

Concert From "Live 8" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 02, 2005


Good Evening New York City

Official live • Released in 2009

4:39 • Live • Could have been record on 17, 18 or 21 July 2009

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
Geoff Emerick:
Audio mixing
Paul Hicks:
Audio mixing
Jonas Westling:
Additional engineering
Richard Lancaster:
Additional engineering
John Henry:
Recording

Concert From the concert in New York, USA on Jul 17, 2009


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

2:02 • Studio versionR2017

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Giles Martin:
Producer
Neil Sanders:
French horn
James W Buck:
French horn
Tony Randall:
French horn
John Burden:
French horn
Sam Okell:
Mix engineer
Miles Showell:
Mastering engineer
Sean Magee:
Mastering engineer
Matt Mysko:
Mix assistant
Greg McAllister:
Mix assistant
Matthew Cocker:
Transfer engineer
James Clark:
Audio restoration
Adam Sharp:
Mix coordination

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Feb 02, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 03, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 06, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

Studio version • Take 1 – Instrumental

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Videos

Live performances

“Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” has been played in 209 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” has been played


The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles

Jan 27, 2014 • USA • Los Angeles • Los Angeles Convention Center



HP Discover private show

Jun 09, 2011 • USA • Las Vegas • MGM Grand





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