Today (May 26th) marks the 50th anniversary celebration of The Beatle’s revolutionary album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The LP was the first released by the band following their retirement from touring after their final performance at Candlestick Park in 1966. Although The Beatles had already begun a steady transition from being a more traditional pop-rock group with albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s has been hailed as their ultimate creative masterpiece, followed closely perhaps by 1969’s Abbey Road. Released at the beginning of the Summer of Love, it set a new precedent for what a rock and roll record could be. The concept behind the album began following the exhaustion the group experienced after the whirlwind of Beatlemania. Paul McCartney came to Lennon, Starr, and Harrison with an idea that they would record an all new album under an alternative persona, which would free them from the weight of being the Beatles and usher in a fresh wave of musical creativity. Sgt. Pepper’s not only ushered in a new era for the Beatles; it also marked the beginning of the psychedelic rock movement that would see new groups like The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Jefferson Airplane begin to climb the pop music charts. Now, 50 years later, Sgt. Pepper’s is known not only for its conception and importance to 60s rock (and music in general), but also for the history of its production. Continue reading →
Director John Brewer (Jimi Hendrix: The Guitar Hero, Nat King Kole: Afraid of the Dark) released his documentary on the late B.B. King back in 2012, but it wasn’t released in the US officially until 2014. That said, the film, titled The Life of Riley (B.B. King’s name was Riley B. King), is now available on Netflix. Narrated by Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight), the film features a plethora of musicians, friends, and family, who discuss B.B. King’s long and revolutionary career as an American bluesman, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, Bono, Ronnie Wood, Dr. John, and Solomon Burke. B.B. King hailed from the flat delta land in Mississippi and eventually made his way to Memphis, Tennessee, where he began regular work as a blues artist. He secured a number of record deals, and when rock music took off in the ’60s, a new interest in King’s and other blues artists of his era as they had never experienced before. Continue reading →
In light of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first movie and the onset of Beatlemania across the Atlantic, Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night is being prepped for re-release this summer. The film featured John, Paul, George, and Ringo in their first big screen appearance, which coincided with the release of the album of the same name and featured most of the same songs, including A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, And I Love Her, and I’ll Cry Instead. Although the film was not particularly praised by critics, and was even totally bashed by John Lennon in later years following the band’s breakup, it has remained a beloved classic in Beatle-lore. Following the band’s breakthrough performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which introduced the group to a new generation of Americans, A Hard Day’s Night was released a month later and only further propelled the group to a new level of international stardom. You can catch the movie in theaters this summer starting on July 4th.