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"Sgt. Pepper" 50 years later: Paul McCartney reveals the album's origins

"Sgt. Pepper" anniversary

The legacy of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" would have been very different if two figures -- Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ -- had made it onto the iconic cover. 

That's just one of the details former Beatle Paul McCartney revealed when he sat down for a lengthy interview with his own website to detail the origins of the classic album, which turned 50 on May 26.

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McCartney revealed that once they'd settled on the idea for the cover -- with the Beatles posing as the fictional band of the title -- the band members went off and created lists of who might share the space with them. 

"I asked all the guys to come up with a list of people who their character might be fans of. So everyone did that like as a bit of homework, kind of thing," McCartney explained.

"I think someone brought Hitler. And that was vetoed immediately: 'No!' And then Jesus was in there," he said. "Hitler, I think, was just a joke. No way he was gonna get on there. Jesus was not so much a joke. He could have been in there, but we didn't want to offend Christians."

McCartney also explained that the title and concept for the album arose from very unlikely origins. 

"I was coming back from a trip abroad with our roadie, Mal Evans, just the two of us together on the plane. And we were eating and he mumbled to me, asked me to pass the salt and pepper. And I misheard him," McCartney explained. 

"I thought he said Sergeant Pepper. I went, 'Oh! Wait a minute, that's a great idea!' So we had a laugh about it, then I started thinking about Sergeant Pepper as a character. I thought it would be a very interesting idea for us to assume alter egos for this album we were about to make."

A special 50th anniversary remixed edition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is now available on CD, streaming and vinyl.

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