11 facts you might not know about the Sgt. Pepper cover artwork

Metal Hammer

Sgt. Pepper is the Mona Lisa of album covers, an iconic image recognised the world over. Designed by husband and wife team Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, it presents The Beatles’ alter egos surrounded by what Blake described as a “magic crowd.” 

Movie stars, musicians, writers, gurus, occultists – the eclectic mix breaks down notions of high and low, and reflects the varied styles of the songs within, from music hall to neo-classical to rock ‘n’ roll to Indian raga.

Most of all, it places The Beatles in a context of 20th century culture, elevating them, as they’d hoped at the time, beyond moptops to artists. The sleeve design won a Grammy for Blake and Haworth, and went on to be parodied by everyone from Mad Magazine to Sesame Street to Frank Zappa, The Simpsons and The Rutles.

1. The cover concept began with Paul McCartney’s pen-and-ink sketches
His first inspiration was a 1920s-era photo of his dad’s orchestra, “Jim Mac’s Jazz Band,” surrounded by their well-dressed fans. To that, he wove in childhood memories of Northern brass bands playing outdoor events in parks.

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