This is why John Lennon hated The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’
On June 2nd 1967, The Beatles released Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in the United States and Canada which John Lennon would, of course, tear to pieces at a later date. The main reason Lennon didn’t like Sgt. Pepper? Well, it was Paul McCartney’s favourite album.
In the years that would proceed following The Beatles, Lennon seemed to grow hatred for certain tracks on the album more and more. As the years went on, he seemed to fall out of love with certain aspects of the album even further.
Sgt. Pepper may well be viewed as one of The Beatles’ masterpieces but it was primarily Paul’s baby. The singer and songwriter delved into the world of psychedelia and conceptual recording — it influenced the album greatly. It is often cited as The Fab Four’s greatest masterpiece but there are facets of it, that if it was down to Lennon, would have never made it on the final cut.
During one of his final ever interviews before his untimely death, Lennon sat down with Playboy’s David Sheff and didn’t hold back with his analysis of the record, which he claimed was not on the same level as The White Album and labelled one song on the record “garbage”.
When picking The White Album as the superior record, Lennon revealed his theory as to why: “[Paul] wanted it to be more a group thing, which really means more Paul. So he never liked that album. It’s a record that is full of hits, from ‘Back in the U.S.S.R’ to ‘Blackbird’ to ‘Helter Skelter’ and beyond, it’s an undeniable powerhouse of an album.”
He continued with a swipe at Paul’s favourite Beatles record Sgt. Pepper: “I always preferred it to all the other albums, including Pepper, because I thought the music was better. The Pepper myth is bigger, but the music on the White Album is far superior, I think.”
Surprisingly, the song that he labelled as a “piece of garbage” was one that was actually his and seemingly one that had very little creative process behind it. The track in question is ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ which he had this to say about: “‘Good Morning’ is mine. It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought. The ‘Good morning, good morning’ was from a Kellogg’s cereal commercial. I always had the TV on very low in the background when I was writing and it came over and then I wrote the song.”
In the very same interview, he also didn’t hold back in his assessment of another track on the record which he wanted no association with saying it was “Paul’s completely” — which is ‘When I’m Sixty Four’. Which Lennon left no guesses in what his true opinion of the song was despite using just a few devastating words, noting: “I would never even dream of writing something like that.”
Equally, George Harrison was not a fan of Sgt. Pepper—we’re sensing a theme here. He felt the concept album had turned them into a puppet worker bee and with dreams of performing live once more, it was not a pleasant experience. “It became an assembly process—just little parts and then overdubbing,” he felt they had lost the edge that came with live performances.
On the contrary, McCartney spoke about why he thought it was his favourite piece of work by The Beatles with him saying: “I’d pick Sgt. Pepper’s, meself, because I had a lot to do with it.” He confirmed similarly in an interview from 1990 where he said: “If records had a director within a band, I sort of directed Pepper.”
The album is undoubtedly a masterpiece of the highest calibre and a worthy inclusion on anybody’s desert island records and perhaps, Lennon’s comments were more a case of him having a bit of fun at his former bandmate’s magnum opus than him genuinely hating parts of the album. But then again…