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A Crowd of People Stood and Stared

Who's on the cover of Sgt. Pepper?

by Dr. Spin
January 24, 2005

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A Crowd of People Stood and Stared_S.E. Shepherd-Who’s on the cover of Sgt. Pepper?
Hi,
After reading those interesting comments re the Beatles and the Sergeant Pepper album I have a question. Can any person inform me of the names of all the characters who appear on the cover? Is there a definitive list out there? Obviously I do know the names of the Beatles themselves and some of the other characters appearing, but there are many whom I do not recognise. I am mainly interested to know why the characters that appear were chosen for inclusion, and whether they just appear at random. It strikes me that there are many hidden meanings in the complex design of this famous record cover.

Yours,
Wondering in
Blackpool
 
Dear Wondering,
 
Actually, the CD release of Sgt. Pepper (at least the copy I have) contains a booklet with the list of all the famous (and not so famous) faces on the cover. From what I’ve read, each of the Beatles, as well as photographer Peter Blake (who designed the cover) came up with a list of people they would like to see “attending” the Band’s concert. Some are supposedly influences on the Beatles (Bob Dylan, Dion, former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe), some are for fun (Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Marilyn Monroe). George Harrison’s list was mainly of Indian gurus, but before you go reading into who’s pictured, let me remind you that the Beatles did have a mischievous side, especially John Lennon, who initially wanted Jesus Christ, Gandhi, and Hitler on the cover (nervous executives made sure none of them appeared).
 
Difficulties also arose, as some of the members of the “crowd” were still living, and had to approve of their likeness being used. Some demanded a fee, and were removed because of that. Mae West initially declined, replying, “What would I be doing at a Lonely Hearts club?” but when the Beatles wrote to her personally, West accepted. There is also a Shirley Temple doll sitting in the front wearing a sweater inscribed with “Welcome Rolling Stones, Good Guys,” a nod to the rivalry/friendship between the bands.
 
Dr. Spin

What is the music in the Mitsubishi commercial where a long line of people are dressed in red?

Thank You,
ML
 
Dear ML,
 
Thank you so much for including a salutation and your initials in your question. It is very rare that I get such courtesy. The song you are looking for is “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James & the Shondells. It is a curious choice for Mitsubishi, which has up till now chosen more modern and obscure tunes to feature in their commercials (with the possible exception of the Barenaked Ladies “One Week). Perhaps tired of the numerous questions about what song is used in their ads, Mitsubishi decided to try some “golden oldies” that more people would recognize.
 
Or maybe they thought Tommy James & the Shondells would be more obscure to a younger generation, and therefore be retro-cool.

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Frank Bland from Oak Ridge, NJ writes:
February 17, 2005
I could be wrong, but I believe Lenny Bruce was also intended for inclusion on the Sgt. Pepper's cover but his barely-alive status at the time allowed him to decline the invitation.

Also, not to pick a nit, but the tune Draggin' the Line is not a Shondell's tune. It was recorded and released by Tommy James as a solo artist and is featured on his Christian of the World album. Speaking as a Tommy James fan as well as a Christian, he shouldn't have bothered with the rest of the album. But Draggin' The Line remains as one of the best rock and roll records ever made.

Pacem,

Frank

Dr. Spin writes:
February 18, 2005
Actually Lenny Bruce does appear on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. He is fourth from the left in the very top row.

As for Draggin' the Line, you're right - it's not a Shondells' number, but it is included in most Tommy James & the Shondells greatest hits packages. Dr. Spin too can be nit-picking and I appreciate your efforts to correct me.

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