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Updated July 2010
   
 


The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Cover

The front cover was a gem of a find:  one sees the four Beatles all holding instruments which are inappropriate to them.  But of the four, only Paul is holding a wooden for coffin instrument it’s also black for death.  Also three Beatles are facing the camera at an angle but Paul appears straight on as if he were being propped up by Ringo and George. 

The whole cover is a grave scene with the word “Beatles” being spelled out in flowers— red hyacinths, the mythological flower of death.  The yellow flowers have been interpreted as being a left-handed bass guitar complete with strings. Or, if one looks sideways, the yellow flowers resemble a “P” for Paul. 

 The personalities on the album are interesting.  John Lennon on Tony Palmer's “All You Need is Love” TV series comments that “the people on the Sergeant Pepper cover…two are flying, two are not.”  Apparently an inside joke, whatever the inside joke is. Let's look at the personalities. This is a great album to have in front of you as you listen to the "Is Paul Dead Radio show."

First, Paul is the only one with a hand over his head—a symbol of death representing the hand of a religious leader who blesses the body before it's interned.  The owner of this hand, who is staring at Paul, is the writer Stephen Crane most famous for his war story “The Red Badge of Courage.”  Mr. Crane himself died when he was 28 years old.  Another one of Mr. Crane short stories is called “The Open Boat” and concerns four men who struggle to survive in a lifeboat.  The one most determined to keep the group together dies in the ordeal; the other three then act as interpreters of the event. 

 Other famous but dead people looking at Paul includes. Edgar Allan Poe himself died in a tragic death; Marilyn Monroe, a suicide victim; James Dean, who died in a cycle crash;  Jayne Mansfield, decapitated in a car crash; and the other dead Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe.  There seems to be quite a collection of dead heroes.

The Beatles inner selve picture

The cover of Sergeant Pepper conveniently opens up. The inside photo again shows Paul being propped up by two other Beatles: Paul in the fetal position, which is how Indians bury their dead.  A closer look at Paul’s uniform shows his white bars and epaulets trimmed in black for death.  But the real clincher that theorists felt was on his left arm.  Paul is wearing a patch which reads O.P.D. which in England stands for “Officially Pronounced Dead” —in America the equivalent to D.O.A.  “Dead On Arrival”.

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Back Cover

The back cover of Sergeant Pepper also holds some clues.  Of the four Beatles, only Paul has his back towards the camera in the same pose as his body is on the front cover.  Notice also that the braids on the other three Beatles are now on their left sides, whereas on the front the braids were on the right.  These braids have been consciously changed as wearing them on the left side is part of the military funeral dress code in England.  Paul also has three black buttons on his coat representing the mourning of the other three Beatles. Finally notice George's hand is pointing to a line of lyrics “Wednesday morning at five o'clock” this is the time that theorists say Paul was O.P.D: Officially Pronounced Dead after his tragic accident during the night.

George Harrison pointing to 5 o'clock clue

On the back cover of the original album, George appears to be pointing at the words "Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins", which was supposed to have been the time of Paul's fatal accident. Note: the picture of the Beatles that originally appeared on the back cover of the LP is shown on pages 12 and 13 of the CD booklet, but the lyrics are not presented in the same way as they were on the LP. Also Paul has his back to the camera on the back cover of Sgt. Peppers.

The music was loaded with clues. It's the first time we hear about Billy Shears and William Campbell. William Campbell had won a Paul McCartney look a like contest a year earlier in Scotland and was carefully trained and groomed in Paul McCartney's music style, to replace the dead Beatle. The Beatles refer to him in the title song on the Sgt. Peppers album and introduce him to us as Billy Shears.

William Cambpell from Scotland has not been heard from since the famous Paul McCartney look a like contest in 1965. Is Paul McCartney Dead?

Now for a little history of the Sgt. Peppers album.. Now for a little history of the Sgt. Peppers album..

The Beatles Hello Goodbye

Other lyrics in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band had some strong things to say:

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
We're 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

It was rumored in 1969 that Billy Shears was the name of a band leader in England.  When he died in 1947 he said that he would be resurrected in 20 years. The LP was released in 1967.

“With a Little Help From My Friends”

 What would you think if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

What do I do when my love is away?
(Does it worry you to be alone?)
How do I feel by the end of the day?
(Are you sad because you're on your own?)
No I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

(Do you need anybody?)
I need somebody to love
(Could it be anybody?)
I want somebody to love

(Would you believe in a love at first sight?)
Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time
(What do you see when you turn out the light?)
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Oh I'm going to try with a little help from my friends

(Do you need anybody?)
I just need somebody to love
(Could it be anybody?)
I want somebody to love

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends
Oh I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends

 A Little help from my friends, the theorists contend that Billy Campbell who is filling in, was the Billy shears that they spoke of. “What would do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?” He's not yet able to get the voice just right, so he's trying to stay in tune.


Now some History on Sgt. Pepper's:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth album by The 
Beatles. It is often cited as their magnum opus and one of the most 
influential albums of all time by prominent critics and publications, 
ranking number 1 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All 
Time in 2003. It was recorded by the Beatles over a 129-day period 
beginning on December 6, 1966. The album was released on June 1, 1967 
in the United Kingdom and the following day in the United States. The 
album has had a large influence on many artists.

Upon release the album was an immediate critical and popular 
sensation. Innovative in every sense, from structure to recording 
techniques to the cover artwork, the artistic effect was felt 
immediately.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded as Beatlemania was 
waning. The Beatles had grown tired of touring and had quit the road 
in August 1966. After one particular concert the four men were driven 
away in the back of a small van and they decided - even Paul 
McCartney, who was perhaps the most in favor of continuing to tour - 
that enough was enough. From that point on the Beatles became an 
entirely studio based band (excepting the 1969 rooftop performance 
during the Get Back sessions).

Now, for the first time in their careers, they had more than ample 
time with which to prepare their next record. As EMI's premier act and 
Britain's most successful pop group they had almost unlimited access 
to the state of the art technology of Abbey Road Studios. All four 
band members had already developed a preference for long late night 
sessions although they were still extremely efficient and highly 
disciplined in their studio habits.

In another innovation, non-US pressings of the album (in its original 
LP form that was later released on CD) end in an unusual way, 
beginning with a 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone (put on the album at 
Lennon's suggestion and said to be "especially intended to annoy your 
dog"), followed by an endless loop of laughter and gibberish made by 
the run out groove looping back into itself. The loop (but not the 
tone) made its U.S. debut on the 1980 Rarities compilation, titled 
"Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove". However, it's only featured as a 2-second 
fragment at the end of side 2 rather than an actual loop in the runout 
groove. The CD version of Sgt. Pepper's Inner Groove is actually a bit 
shorter than that one found on the original UK vinyl pressing.

The sound in the loop is also the subject of much controversy, being 
widely interpreted as some kind of secret message. McCartney later 
told his biographer Barry Miles that in the summer of 1967 a group of 
kids came up to him complaining about a lewd message hidden in it when 
played backwards. He told them, "You're wrong, it's actually just It 
really couldn't be any other." He took them to his house to play the 
record backwards to them, and heard something very bad.

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The Beatles Original Apple LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

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