The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Turns 50

LONDON — It was 20 50 years ago today  on June 1.

On its release in 1967, the Beatles’ eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, wasn’t universally loved. “The mood is mellow, even nostalgic. But, like the cover, the overall effect is hip active and cluttered. Like an over-attended child, Sgt. Pepper is spoiled,” the music critic Richard Goldstein wrote in The New York Times.   Never mind the album became an instant hit. “Oh, I get it,” Bob Dylan told Paul McCartney, when Paul played a bit of the group’s new music for him in 1966. “You do not want to be adorable.”

A half-century afterwards, Sgt. Pepper’s, which ushered   in the rock ‘n’ roll “concept album” — a selection of songs written about a central theme   — and inspired   musicians from Pink Floyd to Radiohead into Stevie Wonder, will be celebrated past this season and next.

Liverpool, where the Beatles grew up, will host a “Sgt. Pepper at 50” occasion through June 16 featuring musicians, choreographers, visual artists and poets getting involved in a range of cross-disciplinary jobs that honor each of the record’s 13 songs. Capitol Records is releasing reissue packs in a range of formats.

“It’s mad to believe that 50 decades later, we’re looking back with this project with such fondness and a bit of amazement at how four men, a fantastic manufacturer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art,” McCartney wrote in the introduction to the super-deluxe box-set anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper’s that comprises a brand new stereo remix, 33 previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios in London  and a rare making-of-the-album documentary.

The super-deluxe box-set variant  is available on Amazon for $117.99. The normal anniversary CD version costs $13.99.

McCartney and Ringo Starr are the Beatles’ two surviving members.

John Lennon was killed in New York in 1980.   George Harrison died in 2001 of cancer.

The Beatles recorded the majority of the songs at Abbey Road’s Studio 2, a space with white walls and wooden parquet flooring that  resembles more a high school gymnasium compared to location for a number of the world landmark harmonies. Not much had noticeably altered since then, when USA TODAY seen this past month, and it was easy to envision the Fab Four huddled with their tools, microphones and recording paraphernalia. A Steinway piano    the group nicknamed “Mrs. Mills,” which   was utilized on A Day In The Life, Penny Lane and With a Little Help From My Friends, rested gracefully in 1  corner.

“Each decade has generated somebody amazingly particular — a Michael Jackson or a Madonna or a Beyoncé,” said Mike Jones, a favorite music expert at the University of Liverpool,  who’s coordinating  a day-long classical audio tribute this month to Harrison’s India-infused Within You Without You from Sgt. Pepper’s.

“Exactly what the Beatles had was three fantastic songwriters who created within this record the most significant   musical cocktail of time,” he  explained.