Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 23, 1966

Leonard Bernstein analyzes the Beatles in a Young People's Concert

Leonard Bernstein, who took an ongoing interest in the Beatles, analyzes the harmonic structure of "Norwegian Wood" in the televised Young People's Concert, "What is a Mode?"

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 22, 1966

The Beatles are getting ready to record a very famous tune. Can anyone guess?

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 21, 1966

Nothing to mention on this day 50 years ago.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 20, 1966

Brian Epstein holds a party for The Four Tops in London

The Four Tops had performed at the Savile Theatre in London on 13 November 1966. The venue was owned by The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, and the backdrop for the performance was said to have been designed by Paul McCartney.

Seven days later Epstein held a party for The Four Tops at his home at 24 Chapel Street, London. It was attended by John Lennon and George Harrison.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 19, 1966

Paul McCartney has the idea for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Paul McCartney had flown to France on November 6, 1966 and met Mal Evans in Bordeaux on November 12 before flying to Kenya for a safari holiday.

In Kenya they were joined by McCartney's girlfriend Jane Asher, and the three of them visited the Ambosali Park at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, and stayed at the Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park.

They spent their final night on 18 November at the YMCA in Nairobi before flying back to London on this day. During the flight McCartney had the idea for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn't want any more, plus, we'd now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers. There was now more to it; not only had John and I been writing, George had been writing, we'd been in films, John had written books, so it was natural that we should become artists.

Then suddenly on the plane I got this idea. I thought, Let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos so we're not having to project an image which we know. It would be much more free. What would really be interesting would be to actually take on the personas of this different band. We could say, 'How would somebody else sing this? He might approach it a bit more sarcastically, perhaps.' So I had this idea of giving the Beatles alter egos simply to get a different approach; then when John came up to the microphone or I did, it wouldn't be John or Paul singing, it would be the members of this band. It would be a freeing element. I thought we can run this philosophy through the whole album: with this alter-ego band, it won't be us making all that sound, it won't be the Beatles, it'll be this other band, so we'll be able to lose our identities in this.

Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, 'Think of names.' We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked 'S' and 'P'. Mal said, 'What's that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.' We had a joke about that. So I said, 'Sergeant Pepper,' just to vary it, 'Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,' an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.

Then, 'Lonely Hearts Club', that's a good one. There's lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. All that culture of the sixties going back to those travelling medicine men, Gypsies, it echoed back to the previous century really. I just fantasised, well, 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. That'd be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band? If it had been Sergeant Pepper's British Legion Band, that's more understandable. The idea was to be a little more funky, that's what everybody was doing. That was the fashion. The idea was just take any words that would flow. I wanted a string of those things because I thought that would be a natty idea instead of a catchy title. People would have to say, 'What?' We'd had quite a few pun titles - Rubber Soul, Revolver - so this was to get away from all that.

The Beatles began recording the Sgt Pepper title track on February 1, 1967.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 18, 1966

The Beatles were busy writing songs.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 17, 1966

Nothing newsworthy today with the Beatles, but Yoko was busy


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 16, 1966

Nothing much happened to make the news this day 50 years ago.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 15, 1966

Moustaches were catching like the flu- not only do the Fab Four grow them, Beatles assistants Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall grow 'em to.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 14, 1966

The Beatles each doing their own thing today.