30 Mar 1967: Beatles Shoot Their Iconic Sergeant Pepper Album Cover
On this day in 1967, The Beatles met up to photograph the now iconic cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.
The band met at Chelsea Manor Studios, a popular London photography studio to shoot the album’s artwork. The cover is now considered a definitive snapshot of 1960’s pop culture due to its featuring of iconic characters of the time like Lewis Carroll, Shirley Temple, Bob Dylan, Marlon Brando and Fred Astaire.
The album itself is a concept dreamt up by Paul McCartney who had tired of being suffocated by The Beatle’s sound and thus invented the concept of an imaginary band known as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club to afford the group more freedom in their recording. The characters featured on the albums cover are meant to be members of the Lonely Hearts Club, although permission had to be obtained to use many of the celebrity images in this way. The band themselves chose their own eye-catching outfits in terms of colours and materials and the final choices very much reflected the psychedelic nature of the album.
Designer of the cover, Sir Peter Blake used life sized, full colour cardboard cutouts of more than 70 famous people to achieve the collaged cover, although apparently it’s original concept featured the Sgt. Pepper group performing in a park. Also visible on the cover are a number of small novelties from the boys homes, such as some small statues taken from John Lennon’s house. The covers photographer Michael Cooper was also renowned for his chosen profession, going on to work with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Andy Warhol. He later tragically committed suicide in 1973, leaving behind only his fantastic work and family. Silkscreen prints of the album cover are still available for purchase from Sir Peter Blake, and all purchases come hand signed and numbered by the artist.