The first selection on the ninth Beatles Parlophone LP (or the eighth official release of original material) - (or the eighth CD ) was an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul entitled "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". This was the title song to the album and it was thought up by Paul who was being influenced at the time by the slew of band names originating certainly on the West Coast of the United States. The idea came to Paul as he was travelling back from a safari in Kenya circa. late 1966 ( I'm not making this up). The whole idea of the LP now became that the Beatles would take up a new identity and re-invent themselves into this Hearts Club Band which would incorporate the songs under the guise of this fictional band. It was this band and the LP which would then be presented to the listening audience as a "show" in lieu of a live Beatles performance (since the band had given up touring by this time). The drugs must have been fantastic in it's day...:)
Anyway, the "show" needed an introduction and it was decided to record just that as the first track of the LP. During this recording the reprise had not yet been elaborated upon. The introduction is certainly a heavy rocker with great bass, guitar and brass parts.
The formula for this LP was to record the basic (or rhythm track) first and then pile up the overdubs and the special effects for the song until completion. Therefore, the basic track for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was recorded on Wednesday February 01 1967 at EMI studio two and consisted of two guitars - one played by George and the other by Paul - and drums. Bass guitar was then overdubbed via DI (direct through the board and bypassing the amp). It took nine takes to perfect.
The next day on February 02 1967, vocals were added. Paul did his lead vocal and John, Paul and George added the harmonies. Once completed, all four tracks were used up. This meant that a tape reduction occurred. Therefore, take nine became take 10 with the instruments (two guitars, bass and drums) on one track and the vocals (Paul's lead and the harmonies) on another track. This left two tracks open for the moment. At the same session, a mono mix was attempted and completed and the results were pressed onto a vinly acetate. ( A copy of this acetate can be heard on the Yellow Dog 2-CD "Acetates").
Almost a month later, on March 03 1967 at EMI studio two, four outside musicians were called upon to play French Horns. These horns were added at this session as well as the stinging lead guitar played by George Harrison throughout the song. All of the horns and George's guitar (which he played when the horns weren't playing) were all cluttered onto track three. This left one track open for further experimentation.
Three days later on March 06 1967 at EMI studio two, the sound effects were added to take two of the four track tape. Please note that there are publications out there in book form that state the effects were added onto track three but I refute this on the basis that I've heard the individual track takes separated via the Multi-Track Separated discovery during the 40th anniversary of the release of "Pepper" and all audience noises and orchestra warm-ups are all on the same track. Also, it would be impractical to add one section of audience noise onto the beginning of track three which also contains the brass and lead guitar overdub rather than have all effects on one empty track. Regardless, the following effects were added to the song: First, we hear the orchestra warm up which was taken from the February 10 1967 recording session of "A Day In the Life". The audience sounds of laughing and clapping came directly from the EMI studio tape archives and were available to any recording artist during the sixties. These effects mainly came from EMI location recordings made by their mobile. The audience murmuring came from mobile recordings from the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The applause and laughter were also recorded by the mobile at the Fortune Theatre in London. What is truly fascinating (well, to me) is that when heard as a solitary track with just the audience noise/orchestral tune-ups - the effects are all the way through this whole tune and never really let up although at some points they are brought down in the mix. There are people coughing, a woman giggling, lots of muttering, very cool stuff!
Also on March 06 1967 from studio two, two more mono mixes were attempted and completed. There were also eight stereo mixes conducted with the eighth mix being the chosen mix. Finally, a different stereo mix for the Apple LP "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" was mixed in the 1990s whereby the lead vocal is centered and the backing vocals are separated onto the left and right side of the stereo spectrum.
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" appears on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The song also appears on the North American Capitol version of the LP. The song also appears on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970" as well as being available on a picture disc version of the "Pepper" LP released by EMI in the UK in early 1979 and a version released in North America on Capitol SEAX-11840 released in late August 1978. The song appears on the EMI/Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack".
Lastly, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released as a single along with "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "A Day In The Life" on September 30 1978 on Parlophone R-6022 (the Beatles 25th British single and the first one to contain music from the "Pepper" LP). The single was also released in North America on August 14 1978 on Capitol 4612 but only reached position 71 on the "billboard" charts.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed the song live (much to the delight of it's composer) during most of his 1967 gigs. It was also performed by Paul McCartney on his 1989-1990 world tour and a version can be heard on the EMI/Capitol 2-CD/3-LP "Tripping The Live Fantastic".