It really was 50 years ago today
LIVERPOOL: The band is long gone, but the music of The Beatles still reverberates – and nowhere more loudly than in Liverpool, where the 50th birthday of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the spark for a celebratory citywide festival.
Half a century on, Liverpool has asked 13 artists to respond to the album’s 13 tracks, for the festival.
The festival is endorsed by surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who have both sent messages of support.
Claire McColgan, director of public body Culture Liverpool, said: “These four boys from this city never left here. Their songs tell a story of this place.”
Exhausted by touring, they played their last live concert in August 1966 and devoted their energies and creativity to the studio. Working with producer George Martin at London’s Abbey Road Studios, they made a multilayered, technologically innovative album that was never intended to be played live.
Half a century on, Sgt. Pepper- inspired artworks are springing up across Liverpool. A dockside grain silo sports a colourful pop-art mural by American artist Judy Chicago. Roadside billboards, the work of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, proclaim “Brian Epstein died for you.”
There are concerts of Indian classical music, a major influence on George Harrison, and a film set on a city bus route inspired by A Day in the Life. Meter maid Lovely Rita is the starting point for an “outlandish procession” through the streets by cabaret artist Meow Meow, clad in a fabulous dress made from parking tickets.
To say Liverpool is proud of The Beatles is an understatement.
The group is a cross between guardian spirit and major industry, one that has helped the port city rebuild after the decline of its once-thriving docks.
Director Julia Samuels of youth theatre company 20 Stories High said that for younger Liverpool residents, the band is “part of their subconscious.”
Her colleague Keith Saha compared it to the way Liverpudlians are either “red or blue” – a supporter of Liverpool soccer club or its rival Everton.
“Everyone’s got their favourite Beatle,” he said. “Everyone’s got their favourite album.
“The good thing about Liverpool is we haven’t Disneyfied The Beatles, and that’s what’s really important about this festival.”
The troupe’s contribution to the festival is a play inspired by the song She’s Leaving Home, performed in a house around the corner from Ringo Starr’s childhood residence. – AP