But on June 2, 1967 — forty years ago next week — they released the first "concept album" in rock and roll history, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
It was psychedelic. Off the map. Wildly popular. And cultural dynamite. Lucy was in the sky with diamonds there. And so, suddenly, was a generation.
This hour On Point: Sgt. Pepper at 40.
Tim Page, chief music critic for the Washington Post
Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor for Rolling Stone
Tim Riley, author of "Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album by Album, Song by Song, the Sixties and After."
Quotes from the Show:
"It was a time of real simultaneity of interest between lots and lots of different people. You went to the record store and you saw kids, you saw grown-ups, you saw professors, you saw students — all with Sgt. Pepper in their hand waiting to pay for it at the counter. It was the moment in some ways when rock really became respectable." Tim Page
"Back then it was very rare for anything to have the kind of immediate impact of St. Pepper. There was a sense in which it suddenly was everywhere. ... It crossed a lot of boundaries but it also became kind of a little bit a dividing line." Anthony DeCurtis
"The larger shift that's happening here is that the Beatles are moving from making dance music into making music that is specifically designed to be listened to. And part of the reason for this was that their tour of 1966 which was such a disaster in so many ways... . So they went back into their studio which is where they preferred to do their work and where they kind of felt they were gonna do their best work and they played the expectations game really well. They worked on this record for six months in the studio, dropped off the touring circuit and emerged with an argument which is 'why should we ever tour again?' This is album that's not meant to be recreated live." Tim Riley
This program aired on May 23, 2007.