NEIL ASPINALL: The double A side 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane' was The Beatles' first release of 1967.
GEORGE: It was pretty bad, wasn't it, that Engelbert Humperdinck stopped 'Strawberry Fields Forever' form getting to Number One? But I don't think it was a worry. At first, we wanted to have good chart positions, but then I think we started taking it for granted. It might have been a bit of a shock being Number Two - but then again, there were always so many different charts that you could be Number Two in one chart and Number One in another.
JOHN: The charts? I read them all. There's room for everything. I don't mind Humperbert Engeldinck. They're the cats. It's their scene.67
PAUL: It's fine if you're kept from being Number One by a record like 'Release me', because you're not trying to do the same kind of thing. That's a completely different scene altogether.67
JOHN: When [singles] first come out, we follow how much the initial sales were. Not for the money reason, just to see how it's doing compared to the last one; just because we made it. We need that satisfaction, not the glory of Number One.68
GEORGE MARTIN: The only reason that 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane' didn't go onto the new album was a feeling that if we issued a single, it shouldn't go onto an album. That was a crazy idea, and I'm afraid I was partly responsible. It's nonsense these days, but in those days it was an aspect that we'd try to give the public value for money.
The idea of a double A side came from me and Brian, really. Brian was desperate to recover popularity, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a marvellous seller. He came to me and said, 'I must have a really great single. What have you got?' I said, 'Well, I've got three tracks - and two of them are the best tracks they've ever made. We could put the two together and make a smashing single.' We did, and it was a smashing single - but it was also a dreadful mistake. We would have sold far more and got higher up in the charts if we had issued one of those with, say,'When I'm Sixty-Four' on the back.
NEIL ASPINALL: The charts didn't worry the band; but if you're going to be in the entertainment business, you do want to be successful. They realised that splitting the sales with the double A side had made it Number Two. But it had to happen at some time, and for it to happen then wasn't a bad idea.
RINGO: I don't think it was important to categorise the songs into A and B sides any more. We just felt: 'This is the record.' The other attitude was an old trap that people were put into when they made records.
JOHN: The people who have bought our records in the past must realise that we couldn't go on making the same type forever. We must change, and I believe those people know this.
I've had a lot of time to think, and only now am I beginning to realise many of the things I should have known years ago. I'm getting to understand my own feelings. Don't forget that under this frilly shirt is a hundred-year-old man who's seen and done so much, but at the same time knowing so little.67
PAUL: We were now in another phase of our career, and we were happy. We'd been through all the touring, and that was marvellous; but now we were more into being artists. We didn't have to be performing every night, so instead we could be writing or chatting with our mates or visiting an art exhibition. (For instance, John and Yoko would never have met if we hadn't had all that time spare for him to look around exhibitions and 'bang a nail in'.) Having the time off gave us a lot of freedom to come in with crazy ideas.
I spent a lot of time listening to avant-garde artists and going to places like Wigmore Hall, where I saw the composer Luciano Berio (I remember meeting him afterwards, and he was a very unassuming bloke). George was into Indian music. We were all opening our minds to different areas, and then we'd come together and share it all with each other. It was exciting, because there was a lot of cross-fertilisation.
JOHN: 'Sgt Pepper' is Paul, after a trip to America. The whole West Coast long-named group thing was coming in, when people were no longer The Beatles or The Crickets - they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes. I think he got influenced by that. He was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public - and so there was this identity of Sgt Pepper. Intellectually, that's the same thing he did by writing 'she loves you' instead of 'I love you'.80
PAUL: It was at the start of the hippy times, and there was a jingly-jangly hippy aura all around in America. I started thinking about what would be a really mad name to call a band. At the time there were lots of groups with names like 'Laughing Joe and His Medicine Band' or 'Col Tucker's Medical Brew and Compound'; all that old Western going-round-on-wagons stuff, with long rambling names. And so, in the same way that in 'I Am The Walrus' John would throw together 'choking smokers' and 'elementary penguin', I threw those together: 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.
I took an idea back to the guys in London: 'As we're trying to get away from ourselves - to get away from touring and into a more surreal thing - how about if we become an alter-ego band, something like, say, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts"? I've got a little bit of a song cooking with that title.'
JOHN: How can we tour when we're making stuff like we're doing on the new album? We can only do what we're doing. We've toured - that was then. If we do another tour, we'll probably hire London for one big happening, and we'd have us and the Stones and The Who, and everybody else on it. Unless that happens, forget it. I don't want to be a moptop. For those who want moptops, The Monkees are right up there, man.67
PAUL: AT THE MOMENT WE HAVEN'T AN ACT TO SUIT THE ORDINARY TYPE OF TOUR THAT GOES ON. IF WE CAN THINK OF A WAY OF GETTING FOUR FKYING SAUCERS LANDING ON THE TOP OF THE ALBERT HALL, IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE. BUT AT THE MOMENT THERE ISN'T MUCH HAPPENING IN THAT DIRECTION.67
JOHN: We didn't make any images for ourselves. You did the image-making - the papers, TV, and all that. I've never cared a toss about images. There's this big scoop about the new-look Lennon being photographed at the airport or somewhere. Who cares? I don't If some photographer wants to take pictures of me and say that I've changed, let him. I'm there. I'm only answered to myself. Nobody else.67
NEIL ASPINALL: I used to share a flat in Sloane Street with Mal. One day in February Paul called, saying that he was writing a song and asking if he and Mal could come over. The song was the start of 'Sgt Pepper'.
At my place he carried on writing and the song developed. At the end of every Beatles show, Paul used to say, 'It's time to go. We're going to go to bed, and this is our last number.' Then they'd play the last number and leave. Just then Mal went to the bathroom, and I said to Paul, 'Why don't you have Sgt Pepper as the compère of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, 'Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil.'
GEORGE MARTIN: The idea came about gradually. Basically it was Paul's idea: he came in and said he had the song 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' and that he was identifying it with the band, with The Beatles themselves. We recorded the song first, and then the thought came to make it into an idea for the album. It was at a time when they wanted to concentrate on the studio, and that probably fomented the idea of the alter-ego group: 'Let Sgt Pepper do the touring.'
PAUL: We would be Sgt Pepper's band, and for the whole of the album we'd pretend to be someone else. So, when John walked up to the microphone to sing, it wouldn't be the new John Lennon vocal, it would be whoever he was in this new group, his fantasy character. It liberated you --you could do anything when you got to the mike or on your guitar, because it wasn't you.
RINGO: The album was always going to have 'Sgt Pepper' at the beginning; and if you listen to the first two tracks, you can hear it was going to be a show album. It was Sgt Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band with all these other acts, and it was going to run like a rock opera. It had started out with a feeling that it was going to be something totally different, but we only got as far as Sgt Pepper and Billy Shears (singing 'With A Little Help From My Friends'), and then we thought: 'Sod it! it's just two tracks.' It still kept the title and the feel that it's all connected, although in the end we didn't actually connect all the songs up.
JOHN: Sgt Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn't go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt Pepper and his band; but it works, because we said it worked, and that's how the album appeared. But it was not put together as it sounds, except for Sgt Pepper introducing Billy Shears, and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.80
I can't really get into writing Tommy. I read that Pete Townshend said that he had just a bunch of songs and they sort of melted into Tommy in the studio. It's like Sgt Pepper - a bunch of songs, and you stick two bits of Pepper in it and it's a concept.75
GEORGE: I felt we were just in the studio to make the next record, and Paul was going on about this idea of some fictitious band. That side of it didn't really interest me, other that the title song and the album cover.
RINGO: Sgt Pepper was our grandest endeavour. It gave everybody - including me - a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material. John and Paul would write songs at home, usually - or wherever they were - and bring them in and say, 'I've got this.' The actual writing process was getting to be separate by now, but they'd come in with bits and help each other, and we'd all help. The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn't matter who), that would be the one we'd use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, 'Well, it's mine,' and getting possessive. Always, the best was used. That's why the standard of the songs always remained high. Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding, although I wasn't there every day.
GEORGE MARTIN: I'd been involved in a lot of avant-garde type recordings, and I did a lot of experimenting in the early days - long before Beatles - with electronic tracks and musique concrète. I introduced The Beatles to some new sounds and ideas; but when Sgt Pepper came along, they wanted every trick brought out of the bag. Whatever I could find, they accepted.
RINGO: As we got up to Sgt Pepper, George Martin had really become an integral part of it all. We were putting in strings, brass, pianos, etc., and George was the only one who could write it all down. He was also brilliant. One of them would mention: 'Oh, I'd like the violin to go "de de diddle",' or whatever, and George would catch it and put it down. He became part of the band.
John, Paul and George - the writers - were putting whatever they wanted on the tracks, and we were spending a long time in the studio. We were still recording the basic tracks as we always did, but it would take weeks to do the overdubs for the strings or whatever, and then the percussion would be overdubbed later and later. Sgt Pepper was great for me, because it'' a fine album - but I did learn to play chess while we were recording it (Neil taught me).
GEORGE: It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn't really that into it. Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them (although we were starting to do overdubs, and had done a lot on Revolver). Sgt Pepper was the one album where things were done slightly differently. A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren't allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process - just little parts and then overdubbing - and for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring. I had a few moments in there that I enjoyed, but generally I didn't really like making the album much.
I'd just got back from India, and my heart was still out there. After what had happened in 1966, everything else seemed like hard work. It was a job, like doing something I didn't really want to do, and I was losing interest in being 'fab' at that point.
Before then everything I'd known had been in the West, and so the trips to India had really opened me up. I was into the whole thing; the music, the culture, the smells. There were good and bad smells, lots of colours, many different things - and that's what I'd become used to. I'd been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions. In a way, it felt like going backwards. Everybody else thought that Sgt Pepper was a revolutionary record - but for me it was not as enjoyable as Rubber Soul or Revolver, purely because I had gone through so many trips of my own and I was growing out of that kind of thing.
Throughout that period I was quite close to John (although people always saw the Lennon-McCartney aspect). We were the ones that had had 'The Dental Experience' together.
NEIL ASPINALL: Spending six months on Sgt Pepper did allow them to experiment more, and take more time over the record. Sometimes being stuck together in the same place for too long can have an adverse effect; it can tend to be a bit disruptive rather than pulling things together. But that didn't happen; everything was OK - although it did get a bit boring for me, really.
JOHN: I never took it [LSD] in the studio. Once I did, actually. I thought I was taking some uppers and I was not in the state of handling it. I took it and I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I said, 'What is it? I feel ill.' I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going cracked. I said I must go and get some air. They all took me upstairs on the roof, and George Martin was looking at me funny, and then it dawned on me that I must have taken some acid.
I said, 'Well, I can't go on. You'll have to do it and I'll just stay and watch.' I got very nervous just watching them all, and I kept saying, 'Is this all right?' They had all been very kind and they said, 'Yes, it's all right.' I said, 'Are you sure it's all right?' They carried on making the record.70
We didn't really shove the LP full of pot and drugs but, I mean, there was an effect. We were more consciously trying to keep it out. You wouldn't say, 'I had some acid, baby, so groovy,' but there was a feeling that something had happened between Revolver and Sgt Pepper. (Whether it would have happened anyway is pure speculation.)68
GEORGE MARTIN: I was aware of them smoking pot, but I wasn't aware that they did anything serious. In fact, I was so innocent that I actually took John up to the roof when he was having an LSD trip, not knowing what it was. If I'd known it was LSD, the roof would have been the last place I would have taken him.
He was in the studio and I was in the control room, and he said he wasn't feeling too good. So I said, 'Come up here,' and asked George and Paul to go on overdubbing the voice. 'I'll take John out for a breath of fresh air,' I said, but of course I couldn't take him out the front because there were 500 screaming kids who'd have torn him apart. So the only place I could take him to get fresh air was the roof. It was a wonderful starry night, and John went to the edge, which was a parapet about eighteen inches high, and looked up at the stars and said, 'Aren't they fantastic?' Of course, to him I suppose they would have been especially fantastic. At the time they just looked like starts to me.
I suppose I was a big brother to them. I was fourteen years older than they were. I guess I was straight, and they knew I disapproved very strongly of bad). They never smoked pot in front of me; they used to nip down to the canteen below and have a little drag and come out giggling a bit. I knew what they were doing, but it didn't any difference.
RINGO: The song 'With A Little Help From My Friends' was written specifically for me, but they had one line that I wouldn't sing. It was 'What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?' I said, 'There's not a chance in hell am I going to sing this line,' because we still had lots of really deep memories of the kids throwing jelly beans and toys on stage; and I thought that if we ever did get out there again, I was not going to be bombarded with tomatoes.
JOHN: Paul had the line about 'little help from my friends'. He had some kind of structure for it - and we wrote it pretty well fifty/fifty based on his original idea.70
RINGO: 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' and all the madness that went on around it was absolutely bonkers. I was actually with John when Julian came in with this little kid's painting, a crazy little painting, and John (as the dad) said, 'Oh, what's that?' and Julian said, 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds.' And then John got busy.
PAUL: I showed up at John's house and he had a drawing Julian had done at school with the title 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' above it. Then we went up to his music room and wrote the song, swapping psychedelic suggestions as we went. I remember coming up with 'cellophane flowers' and 'newspaper taxis' and John answered with things like 'kaleidoscope eyes' and 'looking glass ties'. We never noticed the LSD initial until it was pointed out later - by which point people didn't believe us.
JOHN: I saw Mel Tormé introducing a Lennon-McCartney show, saying how 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was about LSD. It never was, and nobody believes me. I swear to God, or swear to Mao, or to anybody you like, I had no idea it spelt LSD. This is the truth: my son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around. I said, 'What is it?' and he said, 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds,' and I thought, 'That's beautiful.' I immediately wrote a song about it. And the song had gone out, the whole album had been published, and somebody noticed that the letters spelt out LSD. I had no idea, and of course after that I was checking all the songs to see what the letters spelt out. They didn't spell out anything, none of the others. It wasn't about that at all.71
The images were from Alice in Wonderland. It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty-Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep, and the next minute they're rowing in a rowing boat somewhere - and I was visualising that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me - 'a girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It's not an acid song.80
GEORGE: I liked 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' a lot. John always had a way of having an edge to his songs. I particularly liked the sounds on it where I managed to superimpose some Indian instruments onto the Western music. There were specific things that I had written, like 'Within You Without You', to try to feature the Indian instruments; but under normal circumstances that wouldn't work on a Western song like 'Lucy', which has chord changes and modulations (whereas tambouras and sitars stay in the same key forever). I liked the way the drone of the tamboura could be fitted in there.
There was another thing: during vocals in Indian music they have an instrument called a sarangi, which sounds like the human voice, and the vocalist and sarangi player are more or less in unison in a performance. For 'Lucy' I thought of trying that idea, but because I'm not a sarangi player I played it on the guitar. In the middle eight of the song you can hear the guitar playing along with John's voice. I was trying to copy Indian classical music.
PAUL: There were all sorts of ideas: 'Let's use bass harmonicas on this,' or, 'Let's use comb and paper on this. Hey, we used to do that when we were kids, that's a laugh.'
GEORGE: John got the idea for 'Mr Kite' when we were filming in Sevenoaks in Kent. We had a lunch break, and we went in an antique shop on the way to the restaurant. We were looking around when John came out of the shop with a little poster which had more or less the whole lyric of the song 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!' on it.
JOHN: It was from this old poster for an old-fashioned circus from the 1800s that I'd bought at an antique shop. We'd been filming a TV piece to go with 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. There was a break and I went into this shop and bought an old poster advertising a variety show which starred Mr Kite.
It said the Hendersons would also be there, late of Pablo Fanques Fair. There would be hoops and horses and someone going through a hogshead of real fire. Then there was Henry the Horse. The band would start at ten to six. All at Bishopsgate. I hardly made up a word, just connecting the lists together. Word for word, really.
I wasn't very proud of that. There was no real work. I was just going through the motions because we needed a new song for
|Neil simon the dinner party|
Банкетный зал первоклассного ресторана в Париже. Наши дни. Справа обеденный стол, накрытый на 6 персон. Слева, у стены длинный сервировочный...