The last few years have begun to see the fiftieth anniversaries of the studio albums of The Beatles, the most successful group of all time. This May, it is the turn of their groundbreaking studio album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Kaleidoscope Entertainment will be honouring the occasion with the release of a new documentary film, It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper and Beyond. Directed by Emmy-nominated Alan G. Parker, the mind behind Monty Python: Almost the Truth and Hello Quo: The Official Status Quo Story amongst many other music documentaries, the film will explore arguably the most important 12 months of the band’s career by following the creation and release of the record described by Rolling Stone magazine as “the most important rock & roll album ever made”.
It’s unsuprising that the twelve months spanning August 1966 to August 1967 are the ones Parker has chosen to explore; the album’s anniversary aside, those months were those in which they stopped being the world’s number one touring band and instead became the world’s most innovative recording artists, pushing boundaries of what could be achieved in the studio. Through the creation of the alter egos immortalised in St. Pepper’s, The Beatles had burst into a period of extreme creativity, embracing the avant garde and ‘Swinging London’ scenes that were exploding around them.
A devoted fan since the age of nine, the movie is clearly a passion project for director Alan G. Parker; “The Beatles aren’t a rock n’ roll band”, he said, “they are a force of nature, and they’ve been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember! – I’ve wanted to make this film since I was 9 years old!!!”
Using interviews with former employees, fellow musicians, family member and journalists, as well as an array of impressive archival footage, much of it not seen since the sixties, Parker’s documentary brings audiences a detailed examination of why the band stopped touring and how the album was conceived and created. Behind all that is a background of that band’s changing relationship with their manager, Brian Epstein as well as the tragedy of his death, the creation of Apple and the powerful influence of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Parker stated: “We’re combining first-hand accounts of the events that allowed ‘Sgt. Pepper’ to happen with rare and unseen footage that we’ve forensically unearthed from mainstream archives and private collectors. The last days of touring…. the execution of the album…. and the aftermath that it left behind will, I hope, give the audience an intimate sense of the band, the time and the impact of this extraordinary album.”
Words by Amie Bailey
IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY! THE BEATLES: SGT. PEPPER & BEYOND will be in UK cinemas 26th May, including special Q&A previews across the UK, followed by its release on Digital 1st June and DVD 3rd July. The film will also be available on a special collector’s edition double-disc Blu-Ray and double-disc DVD with over 4.5 hours’ worth of exclusive bonus material. A special launch event is also planned in Liverpool, the home of The Beatles on the 1st June – the 50th Anniversary date of the Sgt. Pepper Album.