Things I Didn't Know

I had always assumed the cover for the Beatle's Sgt. Pepper album was just a photo mosaic, a cut and paste of photos that was then re-photographed into the final image.  But it appears to have been shot life-size all at once.  More here.  Apparently Hitler and Jesus just missed the cut.  Can you imagine anyone even bothering with this in the age of Photoshop?


  1. Matt:

    Yes I can.

    Film photography will never quite disapear completely. There are certain cases, where you just can't exactly duplicate the effect in photoshop that you can in camera on film.

    There will always be some people who choose to work in film for artistic/qualitative reasons.

  2. Dan:

    Exactly right. They actually had arranged all the "models" into position and then the Beatles stepped in front for the photo. I've seen photos of the photo shoot with all the models in place before the Beatles stepped in.

    I don't think anyone asked for Hitler, except maybe as a joke, but I do know John Lennon wanted Gandhi and Jesus, and his request was denied. This was less than a year after his famous comment about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus," and I'm sure the record company didn't want any more controversy.

    The people in the photo were chosen by the Beatles. George Harrison only wanted various Indian holy men, and you can see a few sprinkled here and there; I'm not sure who Paul wanted, and Ringo said he'd be OK with whomever the others chose.

    Interesting note: Mae West was included but had originally denied the request, saying "what would I be doing at a lonely heart's club?" All four Beatles wrote her, which persuaded her to change her mind.

    On the far left side of the frame is Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles' original bass guitar player, who died of a brain hemorrhage in 1962 after leaving the band in 1961, long before the Beatles became famous. McCartney was with the band along with Sutcliffe, but on guitar. He switched to bass after Sutcliffe left because Lennon and Harrison weren't interested in the instrument. Subsequently McCartney became what many believe is the greatest bass guitarist in rock history.

  3. Dan:

    OK - I just looked at the photo and stand corrected about Hitler. I didn't realize they'd actually gone so far as to prepare his model. I'm sure Lennon was the one who wanted it, and I'm sure McCartney and Brian Epstein, their manager, pushed back. It would not have gone over well, but Lennon always wanted to push the envelope.