The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Parlaphone, 1967: Paul McCartney (vocals and bass), John Lennon (vocals and guitar, died 1980), George Harrison (vocals and guitar, died 2001), Ringo Starr (vocals and drums)
I have a picture disc version of the record, released in 1978; this coincided with the "colored vinyl" phenomenon of that time.
The Beatles have always insisted that this was not really a "concept" album, but it has still always been considered by everyone else as the first "concept album," even though it wasn't. The songs "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" would have made this more of a concept album, but they were just released as a double single and are not on the album.
Some other trivia:
Rolling Stone put the record in first place on its list of the top 500 albums of all time, "the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time." Over thirty million copies have been sold worldwide.
The 1967 "summer of love"; need anything more be added?
The record was unbelievably innovative from a technical and recording point of view. The recording process was no longer simply for the band to set up in a studio and play a song in one take and that made a record. Now there were sessions using very complicated electronics and different sound manipulation techniques. The recording of a single five-minute song, like "A Day in the Life," could takes days, and much of the time the band was not all playing together in the studio.
"It was a peak," Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. "Paul and I were definitely working together," Lennon said, and Sgt. Pepper is rich with proof: McCartney's burst of hot piano and school-days memoir ("Woke up, fell out of bed...") in Lennon's "A Day in the Life," a reverie on mortality and infinity; Lennon's impish rejoinder to McCartney's chorus in "Getting Better" ("It can't get no worse").
"Sgt. Pepper was our grandest endeavor," Starr said, looking back, in the band's 2000 autobiography, The Beatles Anthology. "The greatest thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea – it didn't matter who – that was the one we'd use." It was Neil Aspinall, the Beatles' longtime assistant, who suggested they reprise the title track, just before the finale of "A Day in the Life," to complete Sgt. Pepper's theatrical conceit: an imaginary concert by a fictional band, played by the Beatles.(cite)
Never looked closely at the album cover until relatively recently. It is a pretty interesting group of people that were included there.
With this album, we find the beginning of the rock musician as a rock artist now, no longer just a musical performer.