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What inspired Sgt Pepper’s songs

The album's numbers have been inspired by not just the band's experiences but by real-life incidents, too.

art and culture Updated: Jun 02, 2007 14:26 IST

As the Beatles’ legendary album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band celebrates the 40th anniversary of its release on June 2, Sir Paul McCartney revealed what inspired the songs of the album.

Macca said that he was the one who came up with the name that introduced the world to the concept album and the gatefold sleeve.

"At the time there were groups called Laughing Joe and his Medicine Band or Col Tucker's Medicinal Brew and Compound. I took the idea back to the guys and said, 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - I've got a little bit of a song cooking with this title,'" the Mirror quoted him, as saying.

The album, he revealed, was in tribute to a police officer called Sergeant Pepper when the group toured Canada in 1965.

The songs of the album also hold their own special meanings.

With A Little Help From My Friends: The line "I get high with a little help from my friends" was for may years thought to be a reference to marijuana, but in 1970, John Lennon revealed that it was actually about friends.

"It's really about a little help from my friends, it's a sincere message," he said.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds: Everyone thought that it was a reference to LSD. It was, in fact, inspired by Lennon's son Julian, who came returned from school one day with a painting he had done.

When Lennon asked him about the painting, Julian replied "It's Lucy in the sky, with diamonds". Lucy O'Connell was one of his classmates.

Getting Better: A simple change in weather is what inspired this song. Inspiration struck Macca when he was walking on London's Primrose Hill with close friend and journalist Hunter Davies. Remarking on the weather, Paul had said to Davies that it was "getting better".

Fixing A Hole: Critics initially believed that the word "fixing" was a reference to heroin, but Macca said that it was about his favourite drug marijuana.

She's Leaving Home: A story about who girl called Melanie Coe who ran away from home, published in the Daily Mirror on February 27, 1967, is what inspired this track.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite: Lennon was browsing in an antiques shop during a break in filming when an old circus poster that had the whole lyric on it caught his eye.

"Ryan's Circus presents The Benefit of Pablo Fanque. The Hendersons would be there. Hoops and horses and someone going through a hogs head of real fire."

This was used word-for-word in the song.

Within You, Without You: Composed after George Harrison returned from a trip to India during the summer of 1967. This track was probably the worst received on the album.

Lennon however, felt that it was one of Harrison’s best songs.

"This was one of George's best songs. His mind and his music are clear," he said.

When I'm 64: Originally penned by a teenage Macca about his dad Jim. The Fab Four would sing this when electrical equipment and amplifiers at The Cavern. However, George Martin turned it into one of the best-loved track with a 1930s sound and new lyrics.

Lovely Rita: Was created when Macca read a newspaper story about a retired traffic warden.

Good Morning Good Morning: Lennon was inspired by a Kellogg's Cornflakes TV advert which said "Good morning, good morning".

"Going to work, don't want to go" and "I've got nothing to say but it's OK" were written while John was lounging around at home.

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise): Neil Aspinal was the one who decided to do a reprise of the opening song, thanking the audience for coming along.

A Day In The Life: Inspired when Lennon’s socialite friend, a user of hallucinogenic drugs, Tara Browne died when his Lotus Elan jumped a red light in South Kensington, and crashed into a van on December 18, 1966.

John sings: "The lucky man who made the grade... He blew his mind out in a car."