Let Me Introduce to You: The SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND Trivia Contest!

50 years


June 1, 1977. Forty years ago today, Mr. Turley cut me a break in calculus, and my high school released me.

Almost as important: ten years to the day before that, the Beatles released (in the U.S.) their spectacular album SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!!!

I love lists, even those controversial and ubiquitous “Rolling Stone” magazine lists, and I can’t recall one rock critics’ list that hasn’t placed this album solidly in the No. 1 position. It’s considered by many the CITIZEN KANE of pop music, the ultimate radical experiment in an era of radical experimentation, yet not so experimental that it alienated the masses. This record’s historical standing isn’t exactly hurt by its association with the greatest musical ensemble in the history of the Milky Way (or, at least, the planet Earth).

Please don’t stand up and throw tomatoes at me when I say this: it’s not number one on my list (duck, Pete!). And since the Beatles excluded their single “Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane” from the LP, I don’t even consider it the Beatles’ best record. Sonically, it’s very cohesive, maybe their most cohesive album as far as sound and mood. But many of the songs here fall short when stacked against the best work of their other LPs, even the earliest.  I’d pick “Please Please Me” and “This Boy” any day over marshmallow pies and Henry the Horse’s waltzing.

There’s a lot of Paul here, which is good, but John got a trifle lazy, which is not good. I think the adventurous instrumentation and packaging, and the timing of its release have had much to do with its current reputation. SGT. PEPPER kicked off the acid-soaked Summer of Love, which so many social historians and millennials love to associate with the entire 1960s. Also, the public was hungry for a new Beatles LP. The boys had quit touring, and it had been ten months since REVOLVER (today, it takes ten months for a band to decide whose song to sample).

SGT. PEPPER’S swirly, psychedelic motif hasn’t aged well, either, particularly on John’s song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Producer George Martin truly came to the fore as the “fifth Beatle” on this record, so the music is as much him as the four lads.pepper

But… “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “She’s Leaving Home,” and “A Day in the Life” more or less created the mold for poetry and musicality in a four-minute pop song. In fact, classical giant Leonard Bernstein called “She’s Leaving Home” one of the three great songs of the century (does anyone know the other two?). A personal favorite of mine is Paul’s construction project, “Fixing a Hole,” where he allowed his mind to wander, and it’s very reminiscent of Brian Wilson’s beautiful, self-analytical song from the Beach Boys’ PET SOUNDS, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.”

Since it’s summer and I’m too lazy to do a “Rolling Stone”-styled pontification on the cultural and musical significance of this record (the best recent article I’ve read about SGT. PEPPER, minus an annoying plug for the obligatory anniversary re-release, is here, if you’re interested), I thought I’d have some fun and offer a trivia contest. Like Mr. Turley’s exams, it’s open book. But the true Beatles fan shouldn’t need a book. Be careful, though! I have at least one trick question in case of a tie.

Hopefully, I’ll get more response than I did with my Gettysburg sesquicentennial quiz.

OK… Mr. K will now challenge the world!

  1. Name two clues, in the music or sleeve art, that Paul is dead.
  2. Give the names of at least five members of the Lonely Hearts Club Band (not including the Beatles themselves).
  3. What are the names of the three children in the song “When I’m 64”?
  4. What was the inspiration for John’s song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”?
  5. Name the band and album that Paul claims inspired him in the making of this album.
  6. Who sings “With a Little Help from My Friends”?
  7. What is the name of George’s token song, and what stringed instrument is prevalent on it?
  8. Which song was covered two years later at the “Woodstock” concert (and was one of the highlights of the subsequent movie)?
  9. Name the band and album that spoofed this album almost a year later.
  10. Why is this the greatest album ever made? If you don’t think it is the greatest, which album would you choose?

Thanks for participating! Just pop your answers into the longitudes comments section. I’ll list the answers and the winner(s) in a couple weeks. Till then, give this classic a spin, and I hope you all enjoyed this show!

P.S. Very belatedly: “Thank you, Mr. Turley.”

b&w photo

16 thoughts on “Let Me Introduce to You: The SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND Trivia Contest!

  1. Ok, I’ll bite. I assume this is a “No Googling” zone so this is from my (old, foggy) memory:

    1. There is a hand over Paul’s head; He’s facing backward in one picture; the instrument in flowers is a left-handed bass
    2. I have never heard of any names of the members of the band. Either there aren’t any or I’ve completely missed the boat on this one. Other than Billy Shears.
    3. Vera, Chuck, and Dave
    4. A carnival poster. He took most of the words from it directly.
    5. Pet Sounds, Beach Boys
    6. Ringo (AKA Billy Shears.)
    7. Within You, Without You. Sitar
    8. A Little Help from my friends. Joe Cocker.
    9. We’re only in it for the money. Frank Zappa and the Mothers. (I think).
    10. It may well be the most influential. I don’t personally think it’s the greatest, not only of the Beatles but of anyone. In the rock era I’d go with “Exile on Main Street,” or “Dark Side of the Moon.”

    • You da man, Jim! You scored an amazing 9.5 out of 10 (the members of the band are in the background: Sonny Liston, Stu Sutcliffe, Marlon Brando, Oscar Wilde etc. I gave you a half point, anyway). You also earned a point for #10, since both those records are deserving of No. 1 status. Great job! Longitudes looks forward to when you defend your crown for the 100th anniversary.

      • Yes, I expect your clues to be even more devilish in 50 years. I look forward to that. But I’m puzzled and it’s not because I’m looking for that 1/2 point. Are those people in the background really considered “members of the band?” I thought they were just a bunch of random favorites of the Beatles. So, a bunch of those I could have answered. Is that official word? That those are “band members?” If so, odd. Also, what was the trick question?

      • The trick question was the singer of “With a Little Help…” I was looking for “Billy Shears” rather than just Ringo. You may be right about those people being just random figures, although I read somewhere, a long time ago, that they were the “lonely hearts.” I think all of them had some darkness or minor/major tragedy…though I could be totally wrong. Rock knew what I meant, so I’ll let you two hash it out!

    • Can I ride on Jim’s coattails? He is “da man!” I would be no help. I didn’t even know that Sonny Liston was in the band. I know Brando played the bongos and I’m sure Fields could play something. I’ll have to think on question # 10. That’s a hard one.

      • Sure, CB, you can ride Jim’s coattails! I don’t think many of these folks played anything (Sutcliffe was supposedly a terrible bass player). But who said you needed to be a singer or musician to make “music”? I mean, look at Lady Gaga!

      • I’m chuckling on that one but it’s true. It’s a good thing it was Beatles trivia and not country western or our friend Jim (Doc) would be in trouble. I’d have to find someone else to bet on. Sorry Doc.

  2. Pete, you’ve caught me on a day when the answers to most of your questions are almost within reach, Almost, like I said.

    I love the Pepper album. But I suppose that my fave Beatles album is the White album.
    Anyway, it’s very hard to believe that half a century has passed since Pepper’s release. Almost seems like yesterday.

    • You’re a sharp cookie, Neil…grasp for those answers! I agree, you can’t not love the Pepper album. I was a huge Beatlemaniac as a kid… lunchbox, trading cards, albums, Beatle boots… then got sidetracked with the Monkees (!), so I missed out on Revolver and everything after (I bought Let it Be when it came out, but don’t consider it an official Beatles album). Then, I rediscovered them in college via the White Album, and I’ve been living in a yellow submarine ever since!

      • Pete, if I may horn in on your contest, I have a trivia question re a song on this album for you (or anyone.) In the song, “A Day in the Life,” there are a couple of references that Lennon makes that refer to either someone he knew or read in the paper. So when they say, ‘He blew his mind out in a car,” who are they referring to? Closed book, please ‘coz Googling will give it away. And for bonus points, what are the 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire?

      • Hi Jim. Just saw your comment. Yes, this came from the car crash death of Guinness heir and socialite Tara Browne. He was a friend of Paul’s. Lennon read about it in the newspaper, along with a story about 4,000 potholes in Blackburn. I didn’t know this until reading the book “Beatles ’66” earlier this year. Very good book, which makes a good case about Paul’s importance during the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper period. He was out and about, soaking up influences, while Lennon was beginning to turn inward and losing interest in the Beatles.

      • in regards to my Sgt. Pepper quiz, correct of course on both counts. I haven’t read that particular Beatles book you mention but I did read another book that talked about what life was like for the Fab Four after they got off the road. They had a fair amount of downtime for the first time in years and yes, as you indicate, Paul was really the “man about London” at that time. What surprised me is that despite the press always indicating that Lennon was the envelope-pusher, Paul was very much into the avant-garde.

      • You’re right. Paul was listening to Stockhausen and others. And the rock press does favor Lennon, probably due to his image as a rebel. It’s taken me a long time to realize that Paul grabbed the reins long before “Let it Be.” Lennon-McCartney was a 50-50 operation.

  3. Fun, a test!!
    Congrats on 40 years Pedro! Can you believe they passed us through high school – or that we’ve actually survived adulthood?!

    And my answers are…
    hand over his head on cover
    walrus refers to death
    H Bogart
    M Monroe
    WC Fields
    James Dean
    Beach Boys Pet Sounds
    within you withut you
    With a Little Help…
    Zappa / Mother of Invention
    We’re only in it for the money
    Revolver. Dark Side otm. Court and Sparks. Deja Vu. Aja. Physical Graffiti. 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus. Brother and Sisiters (rip GA)

    🙂 Just coudn’t decide

    • Forty years for us, Rock…yes, why did they ever unleash us into society?? Thanks so much for your bravery in taking on this quiz. You scored a highly impressive 7.5 out of 10! Question 1: yes, hand over head, but the walrus stuff didn’t come till later; Question 2: you got Monroe and Fields, but Dean and Bogart aren’t in there (Stu Sutcliffe looks a little like Dean, though); Question 4: the inspiration came from a circus poster that Lennon had bought; Question 6: a half point for Ringo, but I was really looking for “Billy Shears” (that was the trick question!).

      For No. 10, I can’t decide either, but I especially like Revolver, Dark Side, and the Joni album (ANY Joni album). Spirit’s “Dr. Sardonicus” takes me by surprise, but I like your style! Thanks for your comments and participation. Here’s your diploma (wait…did I misplace it??). 🙂

  4. Oh, and CB, you are correct on the country thing. Although that said, you never know. I got one on Jeopardy the other night. The question was something like, “She spelled out her unhappiness in song rather than sing it so as not to upset her kid.” I couldn’t believe no one got it as I am hardly the expert. Answer – Tammy Wynette. D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

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