BEHIND THE GROOVES: a music blog by Jeff Harris

On this day in music history: March 30, 1967 - The album cover photos for The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” are staged and photographed in London. With the “concept of Sgt. Pepper” set, the next issue will be what to put on the album cover. The main idea will come from Paul McCartney, who will initially sketch some pictures of The Beatles in uniform receiving keys to the city by the mayor flanked by a group of famous people behind them. McCartney will discuss his ideas with his friend, art dealer Robert Fraser who will put him in touch with graphic artist Peter Blake and photographer Michael Cooper. Once the wheels are set in motion, Blake will get right to work on the project. He will ask the band what persons they would like to be in the collage behind them. They will make their choices along with Blake. The band’s roadies Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall will go to various libraries around town and find prints of the various people, which Blake will have blow ups made of and then hand tint each one. A few of the subjects including Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi will not be included in the final product. It will take Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth eight days to assemble the collage and other props for the actual photo shoot. The photo session will take place at Chelsea Manor Studios at 1-11 Flood Street in the Chelsea district of London. With The Beatles wearing their satin military styled band uniforms (designed by British theatrical costumers M. Berman, Ltd. of London), the photos for the cover, center spread and back cover are taken by photographer Michael Cooper. The cost of the staging and photo session will come to £3,000 (approximately $10,643.00 USD), which in 1967 is considered an extravagant amount since EMI normally would budget album cover art at the time at around £50 (approx. $76.00). Upon its release, the album cover will become an instant pop cultural icon, and among one of the most copied and parodied of all time. In 1968, Peter Blake and Jann Haworth will win the Grammy Award for Best Album Graphic Arts. 

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