Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the seminal and legendary album by The Beatles, which not only seemed to crystallize the band, but also the entire sensibilities of the youth of the globe during the mid to late 1960s, celebrates its 50th anniversary today.
Released in America on June 2nd, 1967, and a week or so earlier in the band’s native UK, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has become such a recognizable force in pop cultural history, it’s almost like a brand, a headquarters where so many musical and cultural influences spawned. From its rich and vibrantly complex yet totally welcoming cover to the same adjectives applied to the wide range and scope of music, which almost acts as a primer for every single style of music up to that point in musical history (pop, cabaret, vaudeville, psychedelia, straightforward rock) and even acting as a blueprint to just the around the corner genres that followed (like progressive and even acid rock), Sgt. Pepper is a true artifact of a time long gone and yet still acts as a straight arrow pulse right in contemporary society, whether it’s for novelty’s sake or reality’s sake.
It’s that annual time again for either Cause Celebre or teeth-gritting derision depending on one’s taste, as the latest roster of inductees into Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been announced. And as par for its course, the list spans the semantics and even transcends it, of the rock and roll idiom. For 2015, the inductees include Joan Jett, Green Day, Lou Reed, and Ringo Starr, amongst others.
The true backbeat to The Beatles, with his nasal-inflected voice, puckish charm, and one of the most underrated drummers of all time, Ringo Starr leads the pack of the Class of 2015 with the Award For Musical Excellence. Having drummed on the entire Beatles catalog (save for a few tracks where Paul McCartney took the drum seat) and sporting a solo career that was varied at best, but chock full of top ten and even number one hits during the early 1970s (“Photograph,” “You’re Sixteen,” “It Don’t Come Easy,” etc.), Starr, who still feverishly tours and keeps active well into his 70s, rounds out the last of the solo Beatles to be inducted, and while some may cry default that he got in as a solo artist just because of his prior pedigree, there’s no way one Richard Starkey (his real name) could have been left out, standing near the cold harbor outside the hall. Favoritism seems to be the order of the day in terms of the Hall’s voting committee and their strangely stringent tenets of what garners inclusion to its walls of fame, Ringo Starr notwithstanding.
Another historic plateau gets reached today as 50 years ago, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a television program which wound up exposing the Fab Four to millions of Americans right in the comfort of their living rooms and ultimately became one of the most-watched programs in television history.
Like many things The Beatles did during their hugely successful and illustrious career, the Ed Sullivan appearance stands as a high water achievement on the foursome’s resume. The band — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — had just touched down on American soil two days prior at JFK Airport to a huge brassy noise, as reporters and cameramen came in droves, almost seemingly climbing on top of one another to get the scant amount of intimate time they could with music’s new darling boys. The ensuing press conference was a massive success and that oft used, yet perfect adjective called Beatlemania was perfect to describe all the festivity as these native-born Liverpudlians enveloped the entire city of New York and the entire nation with their effortless grace and attitudinal charm. Millions upon millions of people either shrieked in delight or moaned and groaned in confusion; it simply depended on one’s age bracket. But that Sunday night’s performance at CBS Television Studio 50 in Manhattan would not only be the sonic bridge to make the entire country stand up and realize that The Beatles were a solid, here-to-stay entity, but a sonic bridge that eventually almost the entire world would cross again and again.
Today, February 7, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the The Beatles touching down at New York’s JFK Airport, arriving in America for the first time and signaling the entire beginning of what was to be coined “The British Invasion” and also unbeknownst at the time, the beginning of what was to become one of the most creative, vivid, influential, and turbulent decades – the 1960s. To commemorate the anniversary, a historical marker will be dedicated at JFK Airport this morning*.
Already upping the ante for themselves by having hit records before they left their native England to come to the States, The Beatles exploded in The United States upon their arrival, but not just because of the music. The four men — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — nary a 25-year-old in the bunch, also handled themselves with the press, which was on a volume level on par with a King or Queen or President coming off that JFK airport tarmac. Decked in similar suits and the famous bowl haircut — which was shaggy enough to move around in the cold February air that day — The Fab Four dazzled the press and the country as Beatlemania was in full force.
The Very Best of Ringo, which compiles the solo hits and more from Ringo Starr, who was best known as the backbeat of The Beatles, is now available on MP3 format from Amazon this month for only $5.00. (The CD is currently $13.89 and is an AutoRip, which means with the CD purchase you’ll also get a FREE MP3 download of the entire album.)
One of the most surprising things during the wake of The Beatles’ break up as a recording and band unit in 1970 was how fast Starr achieved solo success. Between 1971 and 1975, he had amassed 7 singles in the top ten, two of them number one hits, all of which are included on this 20-song release (the irresistibly maudlin “Photograph,” the tailor made for his mid-range nasally staccato vocals “You’re Sixteen,” the got to pay your dues “It Don’t Come Easy,” and the surprisingly effective cover of The Platters ballad to end all ballads, “Only You” to name a few). The record is rounded out with songs that aren’t necessarily filler and aren’t necessarily chart hits, they lie somewhere in between, in every aspect (the standouts being the John Lennon-penned in anyone else’s hands it’s an ego fest, in Ringo’s it’s charming ad nauseum “I’m the Greatest,” and “Early 1970,” Ringo’s ode to the Beatles breakup, done again, in that polished perfect aw shucks kind of Ringo style that’s associative with him). That said, the collection still is essential and a perfect open door to entry to the solo career of The Beatle who still relishes his Beatle stereotype and all that it gave him and ultimately, the fans.
Browse hundred of albums on sale this month for only $5 each!