Liverpool Celebrates Beatles Sgt Pepper Album 50th Anniversary

The Beatles Sgt Pepper Album will always be associated with British Pop Art. After all the cover artwork was designed by Sir Peter Blake the most important purveyor this genre of art. Now in honour of the 50th anniversary of this groundbreaking album more than 100 international and local Liverpool artists are gathering in Liverpool from today for Sgt Pepper at 50, 16 days of performances, installations, spectacular outdoor shows, music, theatre and dance presented by Culture Liverpool, opening on Thursday 1 June 2017, the exact day 50 years ago when the epoch-defining album was released by The Beatles to the world. With 13 original commissions inspired by each of the 13 legendary tracks on the album.

Starting today Liverpool is embarking on a never-before-seen celebration of one of the most influential albums of all time – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Hailed as the first-ever ‘art rock’ album, the City is curating a unique festival which brings together world renowned artists and Liverpool-based talent, to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of what is widely regarded as the best rock and roll album of all time. Sgt Pepper at 50: Heading for Home will use each track on the iconic Beatles album as the creative springboard for 13 brand new events. The world premiere commissions reimagine the original track, which will evolve into a mixture of large and intimate events covering the worlds of art, dance, music, poetry and theatre.

Sir Paul McCartney said: “It’s truly amazing to see our home town come together to celebrate this album in such style. It’s touching to see, after all this time what Sgt. Pepper means to so many people. I wish everyone who is taking part the best of luck.”

The artists include well know names like Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller the American Feminist Judy Chicago and the Avant-Garde composer John Cage.

Jeremy Deller contributes, Metal: With a Little Help from my Friends Track Title: With a Little Help from my Friends City-wide With a Little Help from my Friends is a song about friendship, loneliness and love. By 1967 The Beatles were the most famous people in the world, a no doubt totally alienating experience considering their youth, and naturally, they depended greatly on each other and on a few trusted friends for support.  The relationship between the individual and society is a powerful theme in the work of Jeremy Deller and in his response to this song he has made two public art commissions that examine the nature of friendship and self-sacrifice, not just with those we know but also between strangers.

Judy Chicago: Four Lads from Liverpool 2017 Track Title: Fixing a Hole The Grain Silo, Great Howard Street, Opens: Thursday 1 June The internationally acclaimed American artist Judy Chicago, one of the pioneers of feminist art in the 1970s, is commissioned to create a giant mural, the largest she has ever undertaken, on the exterior wall of the derelict Grain Silo in Liverpool Docks – her response to the track, Fixing a Hole. Studio Tate will invite the public to draw their responses on the gallery walls. Presented in partnership with Tate Liverpool. Curator: Kasia Redzisz, Senior Curator, Tate Liverpool. Supported by King Construction, Titanic Hotel, Harcourt Developments Ltd, Luziah Hennessy.

John Cage: Mr Kite’s MUSICIRCUS! Track title: Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! Aintree Racecourse: Sunday 4 June 2 pm – 5.50 pm Mr Kite’s MUSICIRCUS! will take over Aintree Racecourse on Sunday 4 June, drawing on all Beatles music and featuring hundreds of Liverpool musicians, poets, dancers, circus artists, and spectators and even a horse or two, to take part in a giant free musical event, free to everyone to join in. As John Cage said: “My impression is that The Beatles’ place is not so much in the world of serious music as it is in the world as revolution. I think serious musicians would do well to follow their example in this respect.”

Ringo Starr said: “It’s incredible that 50 years later Sgt. Pepper is still moving people. And now how great that we get all these new interpretations, some classical, jazz, even art and dance. Yours with Peace & Love, Billy Shears, 10 Admiral Grove, Liverpool 8.”

City Mayor, Joe Anderson, said: “This is a proud day for Liverpool. Celebrating the genius of Liverpool’s greatest cultural icons, The Beatles, with original new work by leading international and local artists and showing our city to the world as the cultural capital it has always been.”

Photo: P C Robinson © artlyst 2017

Sgt. Pepper at 50 has been made possible with National Lottery investment of £750,000 from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund.

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