Sgt. Pepper Turns 50

Fifty years ago the Beatles changed music with the release of their iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band concept album. Rolling Stone Magazine has hailed it as the greatest rock album ever made, but you’d have had a hard time convincing some fans at the time. ”It really pushed the envelope with their fan base and I think it took many fans time to catch up to it,” says Quinn Bishop, owner of Houston’s iconic record shop Cactus Music.

But catch up they did. “Sgt. Pepper’s,” as long-time fans call the album in shorthand, stayed in the number one spot on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks straight. Volumes have been written about the Beatles in general and this album in particular. Jody Rosen tells in Slate the story of how the world was first introduced to the record. Having completed all the tracks in their Abbey Roads studio, George, John, Paul and Ringo headed for Mama Cass’ London apartment, placed a freshly-pressed acetate on the record player, opened the windows, and turned the volume up loud. Startled heads poked out of bedroom windows, leaning out farther, listening harder, and smiling broadly. The world was hooked.

And they still are today as new generations find new appeal to an album that is half a century old. “Young people are still enchanted with Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles and Rolling Stones, the Beatles being the eyeball at the top of the pyramid,” says Bishop of younger fans that peruse record shops today. A newly remastered and remixed version is being released to mark the 50th anniversary, and the box set will include a video and documentary. Some of those young fans may turn to streaming to hear the distant echo of their 64-year-old grandparents singing along.

Sgt. Pepper's tracks ranked by number of streams:

1 LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS

2 SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

3 A DAY IN THE LIFE

4 WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

5 WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR

6 SHE'S LEAVING HOME

7 GETTING BETTER

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