During the last American tour, Paul McCartney had been very impressed by the strange names of the local bands.On their model he proposed to use an alter ego for the Beatles, something in tribute to the past Edwardian orchestras.
So the Beatles became the Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts club band. The long silence started after Revolver (breaked only with the Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane EP release) at last finished on June, 1 when the most famous post-war summer's dawn broke with Sgt.Pepper's Lonely hearts club band (the 8th Beatles album) release. With Sgt. Pepper's the Beatles changed from Black & White into colours; they could practically allow theirselves what they wanted. The first concept album contained for the first time all the lyrics of the songs, coloured cut-out pictures and a numeric index which reveals each character posing with the group on the sleeve. The genuine inspiration and the enthusiastic spirit of creation permeate all the tracks which, in some cases, are joined in opposition of the past standards which considered each song as separate from the others. The sequence of the songs on Pepper is famous in itself, being - on the vinyl version - two continuous sides of music, without pauses between songs, or "banding", to use recording parlance.
On Friday, February 10th, 1967, the Beatles threw a party at EMI Studios on Abbey Road in northwest London. The occasion: the recording of twenty-four bars of improvised crescendo, played by a forty-piece orchestra, for "A Day in the Life," the climax of the band's then-in-progress masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Special guests included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Donovan and the Monkees' Michael Nesmith. At the Beatles' request, the orchestra members wore formal evening dress with funny hats, clown noses, fake nipples and, in the case of the lead violinist, a gorilla's paw on his bowing hand. Engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Townsend taped the musical chaos on a pair of linked four-track machines, making this the first-ever eight-track recording date in Britain. "It only took three quarters of an hour to get [the machines] in sync," Townsend says. "The hardest part was hauling them upstairs to the control room."
The entire evening produced only thirty seconds of music (used twice in the final song). But the session was typical of the flamboyance and nerve that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr put into the creation of Sgt. Pepper. "We were fed up with being Beatles," McCartney has said, referring to the matching suits and screaming girls they left behind after retiring from live concerts, at the end of August 1966. "We were not boys, we were men. . . artists, not performers." Sgt. Pepper was the willfully extravagant proof, a landmark achievement in technicolor sound, unifying concept and songwriting ambition.
The Beatles recorded almost every note of Sgt. Pepper in one room, Abbey Road's humble, white-walled Studio Two. (The orchestral session for "A Day in the Life" was a rare exception, held in cavernous Studio One, typically reserved for symphonic dates.) Number 3 Abbey Road was built in 1830 as a lavish private residence, with nine bedrooms, servants' quarters and a wine cellar. By 1967, EMI's studios there were drab and aging, compared to the rapidly evolving needs of the Beatles' principal composers, Lennon and McCartney. "I would come up to new problems every day," producer George Martin recalled. "The songs in the early days were straightforward, and you couldn't play around with them too much. Here we were building sound pictures."
The Beatles found ecstasy in invention. A percussive effect in McCartney's "Lovely Rita" was official EMI toilet paper (printed with the words THE GRAMOPHONE COMPANY LTD) blown through a comb. Lennon wanted to use an authentic steam organ for his circus fantasy "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" (inspired by a Victorian show poster he'd bought in an antiques shop). But Martin could not find one for the session, so he and the Beatles devised an otherworldly combination of harmonium, harmonicas (played by Harrison and Starr) and chopped-up tapes of a calliope. For his Eastern hymn "Within You Without You," Harrison turned Studio Two into a meditation room, playing sitar with a backing ensemble of Indian musicians, everyone seated on a carpet on the floor with lights dimmed and incense burning.
Released on June 1st, 1967, in a now-iconic gatefold cover by artist Peter Blake and photographer Michael Cooper, Sgt. Pepper immediately electrified the world. No other LP of rock's first half-century so richly defined its era -- the hope and the mutiny of the 1960s -- and completely redefined the outer limits of the recording experience. "It seemed obvious to us that peace, love and justice ought to happen," McCartney said. At the same time, "we recorded Sgt. Pepper to alter our egos, to free ourselves and have a lot of fun."
"John was the smart one, Paul the cute one, George the quiet one, and Ringo…well, Ringo was just Ringo”. Together these four dramatically different men made up one of the most famous and acclaimed bands in the history of rock and roll. Needless to say, they are The Beatles. The Beatles had their beginnings in Liverpool, England in 1961 when “Love Me Do” topped the charts at number one. After this achievement, the Beatles produced “hit after hit,” transforming them into the most talked about band of the Sixties. Their invasion of the United States in 1964 sparked a Beatlemania that would last for more than a decade (some would argue that it hasn't really ended yet). This group took the world by surprise with their new hip music and style.
The Beatles were a breath of fresh air compared to the previous bands that were rocking the industry. The music that this group produced was upbeat and positive, which allowed their listeners to escape from the harsh realities of the time such as racial discrimination, the Vietnam War, and a country gone to turmoil with the assassination of their president. The world was faltering in every way possible, but the Beatles remained a cultural anchor throughout these tribulations. They changed the music industry around the world with each new album that they created, and this would influence following generations. The Beatles impact on the music industry is apparent through the diverse instrumentation that had never been previously utilized.
The Beatles began their career as a typical modern-day boy band that produced catchy music, but gained popularity based on their fresh attitudes and good looks. It was because of their talent and charm that girls drooled over and risked their lives to get a single glimpse of them. It was not until the Beatles finished their touring at Candlestick Park in August 1966 that they could actually settle down to create inspiring music and become the artists that they desired. This excess time and experimentation led to the production of the most revered Beatles albums including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rubber Soul, and The White Album. Upon listening to these works, the striking differences between the late and early 1960s compilations are clearly evident. The major distinction is largely due to the choice of instruments used throughout the songs.
Two guitars, a bass guitar, and the drums characterize the early Beatles tune. These were the instruments that made them famous in the beginning, but five years later, the Beatles were looking for something radical to enhance their style of music. The Beatles craved a new approach in order to tap into the meaning of the era and bring more artistic features into the sound and harmony of their music. At this point in their career they chose to incorporate various musical instruments into their songs in order to produce something unique for the world to talk about. It was during this time that the Beatles’ experiences would influence their own melodies in such a way that would even impact future musicians. There was no stopping the Beatles as they began to create the album that would revolutionize the entire music industry.
Over the next six to nine months, most of the Beatles time was spent in the studio creating Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Their manager, George Martin, introduced them to new instruments that could be used to develop ambience throughout their songs. Seeking the opportunity to construct a different sound, they sprung at the chance to use instruments such as the piano, strings, and brass to change the harmony of their music. Nonetheless, they would not stop there. The band’s lead guitarist, George Harrison, had some of his own thoughts about the instruments that they could use. After traveling around the globe to India, Harrison returned with a new appreciation for music. Upon hearing the sounds of a different culture, he was inspired to use them in his own music.
Although George Harrison was downhearted to leave India to begin recording again, he decided to integrate a piece of the Indian culture into his own music as an appreciative gesture for what it had inspired in him. According to Harrison:
"I had spent a bit of time in India and had fallen under the spell of the country and music. I was into the whole thing; the music, the culture, the smells. There were good and bad smells, lots of colors, many different things – and that’s what I’d become used to."
It was because of the major impact that India had on Harrison’s soul that he felt the urge to intertwine the instruments he brought back from India with the ones already present in America. With this touch of music from a unique culture, Harrison created one of his personal bests, “Within You, Without You” to be placed on the impending album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. John Lennon states in regard to the song, “’Within You, Without You’ is one of George’s best songs. His mind and his music are clear. There is his innate talent; he brought that song together” . Harrison’s amazing song led the other members of the group to form clever and original ideas for the impending album.
While John Lennon and Paul McCartney were shaping the lyrics to the songs, George Harrison and Ringo Starr perfected the instrumentation. It is a common misconception that McCartney and Lennon were the brains behind their music. In fact it was Harrison and Starr who promoted the variety in their music that further established the popularity of the album. It was because of their intelligence related to instrumentation that they became an essential part of the band (Complete Beatles). Harrison suggested Indian instruments such as the pedal harmonium and the sitar, while Starr focused on encompassing the piano, organ, strings, and brass. Throughout the entire album, one will hear various instruments including the tambourine, maracas, bongos, harmonica, tambura, and chimes (Complete Beatles). These are also mixed with the drums, guitar, organ, sitar, and piano. Together, the Beatles decided which instruments should be played in particular songs, which led to a remarkably advanced and intricate album that baffled most listeners.
The album was finally released to the public in 1967 and was greeted with admiration and respect. The Beatles had created another hit, but this time it was bigger than ever. According to Lennon, “Sgt. Pepper was the one. We were at our peak”. It is the diverse usage of instrumentation that sets this record apart from all others. During this particular era, the music that was being created was not considered spectacular in its form because it was all similar. When Sgt. Pepper hit the market, however, its diversity and uniqueness shocked the entire world, especially the recording industry. The Beatles were likened to early classical musicians Schubert and Schuman due to the ingenuity of the album. They experimented with various types of sounds and labored day after day to perfect this compilation. In the end, their hard work paid off. Almost forty years after the creation of this milestone, the Beatles are still praised for the album that transformed the music business forever: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.
From boy band to acclaimed artists, the Beatles’ creative minds have influenced rock n’ roll into the style it is today. Without them, rock n’ roll as we know it may have never existed. Their inventive ideas and artistic touch are still used in the music of our time. Their songs are even applied as teaching tools to instill the value of how true music should sound.
This, of course, is only one tribute to the Beatles success. Other famous songs have been used in commercials worldwide. Some examples include the use of “When I’m Sixty-Four” in an All-State ad, “Come Together” by Nortel Network, “Taxman” for H&R Block, and “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Gateway Computers (Commercials). This previous example is also the theme song for the television show, “Wonder Years,” and “Obla Di Obla Da” is the theme song for the show “Life Goes On.” Though the Beatles have influenced the entertainment industry in possibly every aspect, their main contribution to today’s society is without a doubt their instrumentation. Prior to the Beatles, most groups used the same instruments throughout their music careers due to the lack of originality and boldness. After Sgt. Pepper, however, a wide spectrum of possibilities for new sounds had been created. They showed the world how a single difference could affect one industry for the remainder of time.
John, Paul, George, and Ringo were united with a dream of fame. Their career together as musicians transformed this dream into a beautiful reality that continues to live today. The Beatles maintained success and hype longer than any other band in the history of music. Their songs and albums are still considered among the elite today, and suffice it to say this will not change. A significant reason that they remain popular is because of their unique integration of instruments into their songs. This helped others see the infinite number of possibilities when creating music and impacted the music industry for many years. Though there have been generations of groups considered to be “the next Beatles,” no one has actually lived up to this standard. The question of whether the Beatles will be surpassed in greatness has yet to be answered. Is it possible for the Beatles to be outshined, or will they rest in their thrones forever?