Extraordinary things that also happened on the day Sgt. Pepper was released

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a remarkable album, even by The Beatles’ lofty standards, and evocative of a particularly giddy moment in pop music. But the startling mix of psychedelic whimsy, music hall pastiche, Indian classical music and conceptual art didn’t happen in a vacuum, nor was it the sole interesting thing to have happened at that moment. Far from it, in fact.

This, then, is a snapshot of the world Sgt. Pepper entered, a look at other cultural events that were also going on during 1 June 1967, on the TV, on the radio, in literature and in sport. So, to put the album back in its rightful context on the family Dansette, crack open a bottle of Corona cherryade, grab a slice of Black Forest gateaux and dive in.

Dee Time on BBC One

TV was very different in 1967. There were only three channels, most television sets were black and white, and programming was not 24 hours a day. But some things remain constant, like a nice chat show in the vein of Graham Norton or Jonathan Ross. Simon Dee was the host of Dee Time, and in the early evening of 1 June, he played the gracious host to the British comic actress Thora Hird, singer Julie Rogers, film composer Bernard Herrmann and American comic actor Stubby Kaye.

Musical support came from the Northern Dance Orchestra and The Frugal Sound – a folk group with an astonishingly 60s name, who’d released a cover of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) a year earlier.

McDonald’s opened their first international restaurant

Although perhaps not as significant an event then as it appears now, the first McDonald’s restaurant franchise to open outside of the United States started serving in Richmond, British Columbia, right in the middle of the Summer of Love, on 1 June 1967. The burger chain would not reach the UK until 1974.

David Bowie released his first album

There were already some fairly way-out albums in the shops when Sgt. Pepper was released. Country Joe and the Fish had released Electric Music for the Mind and Body on 11 May, The Mothers of Invention had released Absolutely Free on 26 May. The Ventures even had an album out called Super Psychedelics, while Paul Beaver put out a musical interpretation of astrology called The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds.

By contrast, David Bowie’s self-titled first album, released on 1 June, was a rum collection of London-centric whimsy, pitched somewhere between Lionel Bart and Anthony Newley, from a man still finding his feet artistically. It’s interesting to note, with the release of Elvis Presley’s album of songs from the movie Double Trouble, that 1 June 1967 is the only date on which the defining artists of the 50s, 60s and 70s all released original albums at the same time.

The Kinks on Top of the Pops

In the week that The Beatles unveiled their masterwork, the No.1 single was the beatific Silence Is Golden by The Tremeloes, soon to be replaced by the even more beatific Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum. For that week’s Top of the Pops – broadcast half an hour after Dee Time had finished – presenter Pete Murray introduced previously taped performances by The Tremeloes, The Hollies, Vince Hill, Engelbert Humperdinck and the New Vaudeville Band, and new footage of The Small Facesand P.P. Arnold. Best of all was a new performance of Waterloo Sunset (also quite beatific) by The Kinks who were sitting pretty at No.2.

Oh, and there was a dance routine from The Gojos – to Arthur Conley’s Sweet Soul Music at No.13 – possibly depriving the world of the sight of some energetic rug-cutting to the hot No.10 sounds of Seven Drunken Nights by The Dubliners.

The Mersey Sound arrived

While The Beatles were celebrating their new album, another Liverpool artistic high watermark was being reached. Penguin Books published a poetry collection called The Mersey Sound on 25 May, which brought the same youthful irreverence to fusty old verse that rock and pop music had brought to society at large. It featured the work of three poets from Liverpool – Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. Funny and touching writers all, their verses were informed by modern life and were deliberately accessible, which made them hugely popular. The Mersey Sound went on to become one of the biggest-selling poetry anthologies in the world, selling over 500,000 copies.