- Release date
- The landmark eighth Beatles studio album was released to huge acclaim in summer 1967, when Peel was working for pirate Radio London. The DJ ended up presenting the later stages of the off-shore station's exclusive first public play of the LP on 12 May 1967 after his enthusiastic and emotional response to early tracks, taking over from Ed Stewart at his colleague's suggestion. The incident was later recalled by Peel on numerous occasions, including documentaries on the revered album such as Pepper Forever! (1997), and Time Shift (2002).
- On the 12 May 1967 show, Peel remarked that "once again, the Beatles have shown they're about two years ahead of everyone else" and predicted (accurately) that many artists would spend the next seven or eight months trying to catch up with them. He also told the listeners that he'd be back that evening "on London After Midnight between 12 and 2" (the show hadn't yet been named the Perfumed Garden) and would play the whole of the new Beatles album "If they let me get away with it".
- The psychedelic LP became a staple of Peel's contemporary Perfumed Garden show but featured less on his subsequent programmes for BBC Radio One, reflecting their focus on new releases. He remained a Beatles admirer until the band split up in 1970 and was enthusiastic about their post-Sgt. Pepper releases, even if some - Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles (the "White Album") - were less well received by some critics. However, later shifts in the DJ's musical tastes made him revise his opinions, and the record didn't appear in a Top 20 Albums list he drew up for the Guardian in 1997.
- Looking back in “Pepper Forever!”, Peel admitted to mixed feelings about the album, including aspects of its musical legacy: “I suppose it was a strongly musical record, sort of novelty songs... I can't think of another one that was so astonishing at the time... I think one of the problems with Sgt. Pepper was the people who weren't as good as the Beatles by and large saw this as an opportunity to do something they perceived as art in their kindly vaguely uneducated sort of way, and most of the records out of the consequences of that were abominations.”
- Cover versions of songs from Sgt. Pepper that were played by Peel include interpretations by leading indie artists on the NME compilation “Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father” (1988). He also gave multiple plays to an emotional rendition of 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' by Star Trek actor William Shatner.
- Figures on the celebrated Sgt. Pepper front cover with some kind of Peel connection include WC Fields, Bob Dylan, Laurel And Hardy and legendary Liverpool FC striker Albert Stubbins. Peter Blake, who designed the iconic image, later produced the portrait of Peel that appears on the cover of the posthumous compilation John Peel - Right Time, Wrong Speed 1977-1987.
- Side One
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- With A Little Help From My Friends
- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- Getting Better
- Fixing A Hole
- She's Leaving Home
- Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
- Side Two
- Within You Without You
- When I'm Sixty-Four
- Lovely Rita
- Good Morning Good Morning
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
- A Day In The Life
- In 1976, the first Festive Fifty included Sgt. Pepper closer “A Day In The Life” at #9 in a list of listeners' all-time favourites. No tracks from the LP featured in the 2000 Festive Fifty, the last to include an all-time poll.
- In his Peelenium choices for 1967, Peel picked 'I Am The Walrus' by the Beatles but no tracks from Sgt. Pepper.
(All plays from “Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”)
- 12 May 1967: premier play of the album (and possible further play on Peel's London After Midnight show later that evening in the early hours of 13 May - see above)
- 01 July 1967: Within You, Without You ("for the prophet Paul")
- 12 July 1967: (JP: “This is the Sergeant Pepper track that has been glittering in my mind.”) Fixing A Hole
- 16 July 1967: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) / A Day In The Life (three tracks run together in a "Peelian construction")
- 19 July 1967: Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) / A Day In The Life
- 22 July 1967: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- 13 August 1967 (Radio London): Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) / A Day In The Life (JP: “And we have to regrettably interrupt the Beatles because it's 9.30 and time for the news.”)
- 14 August 1967: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / With A Little Help From My Friends Final Perfumed Garden
- 14 August 1967: Getting Better (JP: “It certainly is. Even the hang-ups are straightening out. You’ll find out.”) Final Perfumed Garden
- 14 August 1967: She's Leaving Home Final Perfumed Garden
- 14 August 1967: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (JP: "Oops, all kinds of feedbacky things there.") Final Perfumed Garden
- 21 April 1972: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- 29 March 1976: Good Morning Good Morning
- 29 March 1976: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
- 29 March 1976: A Day In The Life (Peel plays a few seconds of the track before commenting,, 'Oh blimey, nearly played a banned record, that's a close one, led to drunkenness, and looting and fornicating in the street, mayhem and Sunday football.' He was referring to the BBC's ban on the record on its release in 1967, due to alleged drug references in the lyrics.)
- 20 August 1976: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Beatles Retrospective
- 03 January 1977: A Day In The Life 1976F50 #9
- See Also
- Staying Single: Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
(The list below was compiled only from the Cover Versions page of this site. Please add more information if known.)
Artist | Track | First Known Play
LP - Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father) NME PEP LP-100
- Christians: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 16 February 1988
- Fall: A Day In The Life 15 February 1988
- Sonic Youth: Within You, Without You 09 February 1988
- Triffids: Good Morning Good Morning 09 February 1988
- Wedding Present: Getting Better Peel 080 (BFBS)
- Joe Cocker and The Grease Band: With A Little Help From My Friends (session) 14 July 1968
- Los Mustang: Sargento Pepper ('Sergeant Pepper') 17 November 1987
- Metropolitan Police Male Voice Choir: When I'm 64 25 June 1993
- Martin Pig: Lovely Rita 13 July 1983 (BFBS)
- Sham 69: With A Little Help From My Friends 06 February 1979
- William Shatner: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 12 December 1992
- Teenagers In Trouble: With A Little Help From My Friends (session) 12 August 1994