The 50th anniversary celebration of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" begins today (May 26) with the re-release of several new editions of the Beatles' landmark album, including a six-disc Super Deluxe set loaded with unreleased material from the sessions as well as documentaries about the album.
It lands on the actual 50th anniversary of "Sgt. Pepper's..." release in the U.K. (it came out June 1 in the U.S.), and the album polarized fans with its high concept, sophisticated song arrangements and experimental nature.
Todd Rundgren -- a longstanding member of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr's All Starr Band -- tells us he was among those who took awhile to warm to the album when it was released:
"It’s funny; When it first came out, I was kind of a little put off. I thought that there was some up and down stuff on it...It didn't seem to me as taut as some of the previous records, but more than that, everybody that I knew -- I didn't take any drugs in those days -- everybody I knew said, 'Oh, you've got to get high and listen to this' or 'You've got to drop acid and listen to this.' So I felt there was something I wasn’t getting out of the record because I wasn't taking drugs, so my whole experience of it and how it unfolded for me is different."
In addition to the Sgt. Pepper's... reissue, PBS will air the documentary Sgt. Pepper's Musical Revolution at 8 p.m. on June 3, while a pop-up store will be opening on June 11 in the Beatles' home town of Liverpool, carrying a variety of special items related to the album.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.