By 1966, The Beatles had just begun a more sonically adventurous era with the psychedelic-tinged Revolver, and after one final tour in North America—including the band’s farewell show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on August 2—they announced their retirement as performers. Then Sgt. Pepper appeared. “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “With a Little Help from My Friends” helped transcend a straightforward, militaristic premise into one of the band’s more prog-prompting songs. A Military Band from the Edwardian Period While flying back to London that October, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song about an Edwardian military band, and the notion of Sgt. Pepper’s band was taking shape. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would allow the four to take on a new identity, and the alter-ego of a “new” band, already induced by the more psyche-rock scope of the time, drugs, and Eastern philosophy and music—the latter already surfacing in bits of their 1965 release Rubber Soul (“Norwegian Wood”) and more during the Revolver-era. Songs from ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ The Beatles worked around the loose concept of performing as a fictional band after recording the title track, which spilled into McCartney leading the way on opening “Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club,” Ringo Starr crooning “With a Little Help from My Friends,” John Lennon on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and George Harrison billowing through his Indian-inspired outlier on the album “With You Without You.” Other tracks on the album included the compassionately moving “She’s Leaving Home,” inspired by the story of a 17-year-old runaway, as well as the prophetic “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and more hypnotic conclusion “A Day in the Life.” The four are flanked by dozens of influential people, including Harrison’s inspirational guru Yukteswar Giri, comedians Lenny Bruce and W.C. Fields, actors Marlon Brando and Mae West, Bob Dylan, Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, Edgar Allan Poe, poet Dylan Thomas, and composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who inspired the band’s more avant-garde, unreleased song “Carnival o Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the Billboard Top LPs (Billboard 200) chart for 15 weeks and earned four Grammy Awards: Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Album, Best Engineered Recording (Non-Classical), and Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.