Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s” Documentary Film to Air on PBS


Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s” Documentary Film to Air on PBS

–Joe Lund

A new BBC documentary that focuses on the making of The Beatles’ landmark 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is set to air on PBS stations on June 3. Titled Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution, the film is said to feature “material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road Studios, including recordings of studio chat between band members and isolated instrumental and vocal tracks.” The program will also reveal “the nuts and bolts of how the album came together” and provide “insights into the choices made by The Beatles and George Martin.”

Serving as host of the hour-long documentary is U.K. composer and music historian Howard Goodall. In a prepared statement, Goodall emphasized Sgt. Pepper’s cultural significance. “Whatever music you like to listen to, if it was written after June 1, 1967, then more likely than not it will have been influenced, one way or another, by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” said Goodall. “The record’s sheer ambition in its conception, composition, arrangements and ground-breaking recording techniques sets it apart from others of the time. It’s a landmark in 20th century music, and I’ve hugely enjoyed exploring the story behind the music.”

The documentary’s producer, Martin R. Smith, stressed the “behind-the scenes” aspect of the film. “This will be Sgt. Pepper as you’ve never heard it before,” he said. “We’ve been granted unprecedented access to The Beatles’ own archive, photographs and multi-track studio tapes so we’ll be able to give an insider’s view into the making of this landmark album and, through Howard Goodall’s insight, just why it was so revolutionary.”

The broadcast of Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution coincides with the 50th anniversary of the album’s release. Beginning May 26, an ambitiously produced reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s will be available in a variety of configurations, including expanded versions.