Personalities | The Beatles | The Beginning of the End (1967) | Key Events
‘Penny Lane’/‘Strawberry Fields Forever’
The first record to emerge from the studio-bound Beatles was another pair of contrasting McCartney and Lennon songs, a recurring feature of recent singles but, with time to perfect and polish, the songs had moved up another level. Both made a nostalgic return to Liverpool for their inspiration but while Paul McCartney strode gaily down Penny Lane ‘beneath the blue suburban skies’, nodding at the people and shops he remembered, John Lennon slunk back to the overgrown grounds of Strawberry Field (a now-demolished children’s home) where he used to play, creating a sound collage of rampaging strings and trumpets, heavy insistent drumming, trippy lyrics, mysterious mutterings, fade-outs, fade-ins and, of course, backwards tapes. It was the first Beatles single not to make No. 1 in the UK since ‘Love Me Do’, held off the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘Release Me’. Curiously, the band didn’t seem bothered.
Beatles Reject Movie Script
Several ideas for a third movie had been considered by The Beatles: an adaptation of The Three Musketeers, even The Lord Of The Rings, but none had gone beyond the discussion stage. Paul McCartney was a fan of maverick playwright Joe Orton (he’d invested £1,000 in his play Loot) and in January 1967 Orton was commissioned to write a script that became Up Against It. The plot featured four characters representing different aspects of one person but it also involved murder, adultery, political chicanery and cross dressing, ending up with all four characters sharing one woman. Not surprisingly, The Beatles rejected the script. Paul McCartney: ‘We didn’t do it because it was gay. We weren’t gay and really that’s all there was to it.’
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the sound of The Beatles walking on water. No other album reflected and defined its time better. It was the soundtrack for 1967’s ‘Summer of Love’, endlessly replayed as the newly-christened flower children lapped up every trick and nuance and then went looking for more. And there were plenty, from the eager anticipation of an audience at the start to the final babble on the run-out groove. It was Paul McCartney’s master stroke to give The Beatles an alter ego to play with. And the segues that linked each song (there were no bands separating the tracks) meant that each side of the album had to be played in its entirety. This did not prevent the BBC from banning ‘A Day in the Life’ and ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ for perceived drug references.
The Sgt. Pepper Cover
The cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was as groundbreaking as the contents. Designed by British ‘pop’ artist Peter Blake it depicted The Beatles as the Sgt. Pepper band in military-style, day-glo satin costumes, surrounded by life-size cutouts of 70 or so of their heroes, as well as waxwork models (borrowed from Madame Tussauds) of The...
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