For many, June 1 1967 is the most significant and important day in the history of modern music. Why you ask? Two reasons. The Beatles released Sgt. Peppers and a young upstart from London released his debut album entitled, David Bowie. The Beatles, already at the peak of their powers and David Bowie, a man who would soon change the landscape of not just music but that of fashion, culture, art, sexual exploration and how we look at ourselves on an emotional level.
So why does an album like Peppers induce so much interest and attention 50 years after its release? Could a band today be afforded this much creative freedom to record an album of this stature? I highly doubt it. Would anyone today be allowed to go off the rails this much when they were already flooding music charts the world over? Again, I highly doubt it. The album spent 22 weeks at number 1 in the U.K and 15 weeks atop the American charts. Worldwide to date, it has sold 33 MILLION copies!
At the other end of the spectrum, David Bowie’s self titled debut LP only reached number 125 in the U.K. charts but it was the opportunity given to him to release this record that started the ball rolling. Two years later, he would release Space Oddity and garner his first chart hit and by 1972, Ziggy Stardust had arrived and he was on his was to changing life as we knew it. His debut album owes a great deal to British entertainer, Anthony Newley and contains some delightful gems. I challenge each and every one of you to listen to “Maid Of Bond Street” and “Rubber Band” and not be charmed by their vaudevillian charms.
Something else that places Sgt. Peppers in such high regard are the recording techniques used. Everything was laid down on 4 track which, if you have ever used this equipment, would give you an idea of the genius behind George Martin’s ability to channel so much onto tape. Today’s artists could not even begin to record a normal album let alone a work of art. Over 700 hours were spent on the recording process at Abbey Road studios in London.
In another 50 years from now, Sgt. Peppers and David Bowie will turn 100 years old. I will be on the verge of turning 90 at the same point. The only thing I am sure of is that The Beatles and Bowie will still be looked upon as fondly as they are now. These two albums will be with us for the rest of our lives and it’s why June 1 1967 is the most important date in modern music history. No other date in time can touch it.