The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper, and the Summer of Love

For the Beatles, 1967 marked a signal crossroads that would both transform the group’s career and place them on a trajectory towards their eventual disbandment. It was a year in which they exploded prevailing rock music demographics through the global onslaught and international success of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band beginning in June 1967. Yet it was also a period that saw them in a precarious state of flux throughout the summer and fall months, as the band attempted to recapture their artistic direction in the wake of Sgt. Pepper and the untimely death of manager Brian Epstein.

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper, and the Summer of Love draws readers into that pivotal year in the life of the band. For the Fab Four, 1967 would see the band members part ways with psychedelia and the avant-garde through the trials and tribulations of the Magical Mystery Tour, a project that resulted in a series of classic recordings, while at the same time revealing the bandmates’ aesthetic vulnerabilities and failings as would-be filmmakers and auteurs.

“Largely because of the Beatles, 1967 was the most important year for song since 1840. This study of the Beatles’ work of 1967 offers deep and stimulating new research and speculation on the surrounding politics,communications media, commerce, and counterculture; inspiration ranging from non-Western to avant-garde musics; tension in the Beatles’ masquerade; the role of gender in reception; and the album’s influence on followers.”—Walter Everett, University of Michigan

“In this 50-year retrospective on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Magical Mystery Tour film/EP/LP, Kenneth Womack, Kathryn B. Cox, and their writers have done what a good recap of these pop artifacts should do: not merely ‘celebrate’ them for having aged so well, but wrench readers out of their by-now routine responses to the Beatles so as to have them experience, as if for the first time, the group’s supreme masterpiece, their subsequent misadventures in filmmaking, and all of the lasting music they created in 1967, the year of the Summer of Love.” —Steve Hamelman, Coastal Carolina University

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper, and the Summer of Love is an evocative collection and recollection. The essays provide first-rate textual analyses and fresh insights into people and events we thought we already knew. A splendid time (and read) indeed.”—Gary Burns, Northern Illinois University