Tags: 'Sgt. | Pepper' | Still | Winning | Fans | Years | Later

'Sgt. Pepper' Still Winning Fans 40 Years Later

Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM

LONDON -- Mae West said: "No. I won't be in it. What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?"

So The Beatles personally wrote to the Hollywood vamp who then agreed to join Fred Astaire and Karl Marx on the cover for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Friday.

It took 129 days for the Beatles to record one of the most enduring albums of the 20th century. Their first, "Please Please Me", had taken just 585 minutes to record.

Now 21st century rock stars have paid their own tribute -- Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight celebrated the anniversary by recording their own versions of the album's famous songs.

Recording engineer Geoff Emerick, who worked on the original album, was back at the controls for the 'time machine' recording session. "This is the first time I've touched this equipment since The Beatles days," he said.

Computer technology has transformed 21st century music. Back in 1967, if Paul McCartney sang off-key or John Lennon fluffed his guitar lines, they had to re-record.

Pop historian and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, reflecting on the album's legacy, told Reuters: "It is one of the great icons of the 20th century. It was the symbol of a very well defined moment in time -- the summer of love in 1967."

The download generation could now give the album another fillip.

"Sgt Pepper has never stopped selling and there will probably be another sales spike when it goes digital," Gambaccini said.

The Beatles have been one of the last big acts to hold out from putting their music on the Internet.

"The danger was that they were beginning to lose their place in rock history with a new generation," Martin Talbot, editor of Music Week, said of young music fans used to downloading their favorite albums.

Earlier this year, the company representing The Beatles settled a 30 million-pound ($60 million) royalty dispute with EMI Group in a deal that could finally pave the way for the Liverpool band's music to go online.

Apple Corps, the company owned by McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of Lennon and George Harrison, said in December 2005 it would sue the record company after negotiations broke down.

Now, with the last legal hurdles cleared, the Beatles could at last be ready to take to the information superhighway.

EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli said in April he was working on a deal to put the band's music online but could not give a time frame.

Gareth Grundy at Q Magazine forecast: "When the Beatles go online, it will be a huge deal and they will sell their catalogue all over again. It's just great music no matter how old you are."

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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LONDON -- Mae West said: "No. I won't be in it. What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?" So The Beatles personally wrote to the Hollywood vamp who then agreed to join Fred Astaire and Karl Marx on the cover for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which...
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2007-00-01
Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM
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