IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY! THE BEATLES: SGT. PEPPER & BEYOND examines the year 1967, the year that would arguably be the most crucial in the band’s career, a year in which they stopped being the world’s number one touring band and instead became the world’s most innovative recording artists, pushing the boundaries of what could be achieved in the studio. Unable to hear themselves perform and mired by controversy, the band decided to stop touring in August 1966. What followed was a period of extreme creativity and rebirth during which they embraced Swinging London, the ‘avant-garde’, LSD and the advent of the Summer Of Love. The result was the creation of their new alter ego, Sgt. Pepper, with the desire to create a pop music first, the concept album.
A devoted fan since the age of nine, the film’s director Alan G. Parker has set out to explore this period by filming interviews with former employees, fellow musicians, family member and journalists, all of whom were there at the time. These stories are in turn supported by a vast array of impressive archival footage, much of it not seen since first transmission. The result is a detailed examination of why the band stopped touring, how the album was conceived and its recording at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, its lyrics, the creation of its sleeve and finally its release. All this is set against a background of the band’s changing relationship with their manager, Brian Epstein and the tragedy of his death, the creation of Apple and the powerful influence of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Director Alan G. Parker said: “We’re combining first-hand accounts of the events that allowed ‘Sgt. Pepper’ to happen with rare and unseen footage that we’ve forensically unearthed from mainstream archives and private collectors. The last days of touring…. the execution of the album…. and the aftermath that it left behind will, I hope, give the audience an intimate sense of the band, the time and the impact of this extraordinary album”.
Spence’s interview with Alan G. Parker