The 30 March 1967 was the photo session for Sgt. Pepper’s album cover. In my opinion, one of the greatest albums ever. There was a lot of time and effort that went into the creation of this album and it’s colorful album cover.
Sgt. Pepper’s album cover was designed by the pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth from an ink drawing by McCartney. It was art-directed by Robert Fraser and photographed by Michael Cooper. The front of the LP included a colorful collage featuring the Beatles in costume as the Sgt.
The story behind the making of the album and the artwork on the cover is truly fascinating. I learned so much from listening to this amazing 1 hour BBC special:
McCartney explained: “One of the things we were very much into in those days was eye messages … So with Michael Cooper’s inside photo, we all said, ‘Now look into this camera and really say I love you! Really try and feel love; really give love through this! It’ll come out; it’ll show; it’s an attitude.’ And that’s what that is, if you look at it you’ll see the big effort from the eyes.” The album’s inner sleeve featured artwork by the Dutch design team the Fool that eschewed for the first time the standard white paper in favor of an abstract pattern of waves of maroon, red, pink and white.
Included with the album as a bonus gift was a sheet of cardboard cut-outs designed by Blake and Haworth, a postcard-sized portrait of Sgt. Pepper based on a statue from Lennon’s house that was used on the front cover, a fake moustache, two sets of sergeant stripes, two lapel badges and a stand-up cut-out of the Beatles in their satin uniforms.
Moore believes that the inclusion of these items helped fans “pretend to be in the band”. However, many others have speculated that there may be a deeper meaning.
The collage includes 57 photographs and nine waxworks that depict a diversity of famous people, including actors, sportsmen, scientists and – at Harrison’s request – the Self-Realization Fellowship gurus Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar and Paramahansa Yogananda. Inglis views the tableau “as a guidebook to the cultural topography of the decade”, demonstrating the increasing democratization of society whereby “traditional barriers between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture were being eroded”. The final grouping included singers such as Bob Dylan and Bobby Breen; the film stars Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe; the artist Aubrey Beardsley; the boxer Sonny Liston and the footballer Albert Stubbins. Also included were the comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (as well as comedian W.C. Fields) and the writers H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Dylan Thomas. Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ were requested by Lennon, but ultimately rejected. When McCartney was asked why the Beatles did not include Elvis Presley, he replied: “Elvis was too important and too far above the rest even to mention … so we didn’t put him on the list because he was more than merely a … pop singer, he was Elvis the King.”
The final cost for the cover art was nearly £3,000, an extravagant sum for a time when album covers would typically cost around £50. For their work on Sgt. Pepper, Blake and Haworth won the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.
And this video of how the video covers have changed is fabulous!