"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is a song credited to Lennon/McCartney, and first recorded and released in 1967, on the The Beatles' album of the same name. The song appears twice on the album: as the opening track (segueing into "With A Little Help From My Friends"), and as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)", the penultimate track (segueing into "A Day In The Life"). As the title track, the lyrics introduce the fictional band that performs in the album.
Authorship and recording
In November 1966, on the flight back to England after a holiday, McCartney conceived an idea in which an entire album would be role-played, with each of The Beatles assuming an alter-ego in the "Lonely Hearts Club Band", which would then perform a concert in front of an audience. The inspiration is said to have come when roadie Mal Evans innocently asked McCartney what the letters “S” and “P” stood for on the pots on their in-flight meal trays, and McCartney explained it was for salt and pepper. This then led to the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band concept, as well as the song. According to producer George Martin, the song was recorded before the album, but he also said that it started the idea of a concept album based around the main Sgt. Pepper character.
The group's road manager Neil Aspinall suggested the idea of Sergeant Pepper being the compère, as well as the reprise at the end of the album. According to his diaries, Evans may have also contributed to the song. John Lennon attributed the idea for Sgt. Pepper to McCartney, although the song is officially credited to Lennon/McCartney. The song was recorded in Abbey Road's number 2 studio, with Martin producing, and Geoff Emerick engineering. Work on the song started on 1 February 1967, and after three further sessions the recording was complete on 6 March 1967.
On the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the song opens to the sound of a chattering audience, and an orchestra tuning up, which was taken from the 10 February orchestra session for "A Day in the Life". The crowd sounds edited into the song were recorded in the early '60s by Martin, during a live recording of the stage show Beyond the Fringe. When the song itself begins, the band introduces its members. The song's structure is:
Instrumental bridge and transition into "With a Little Help from My Friends".
The song is in G major, with a 4/4 meter. A horn quartet was used to fill out the instrumental sections.
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