John Lennon wanted Hitler on cover of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album


The Beatles' Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album the band's "heroes"

John Lennon originally included Hitler in his list of “heroes” for the cover of The Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. So says Jann Haworth, who co-created the classic image with Peter Blake, on The Art Newspaper Podcast.

The idea for the gathering of lifesize cut-out figures and waxworks, now widely regarded as the most famous album cover of all time, was that “The Beatles were to choose their heroes”, Haworth explains. But, she says, “they didn't choose enough, so Peter and I chose the rest. The Beatles really only chose 30% to 40% of the heads that are on there.” The collaborative nature of deciding on the final make-up of the famous multitude—Blake has said that Haworths art dealer Robert Fraser also did a list—meant that those involved could edit or “peck” at the various lists, Haworth says. “There was a big peck that took Hitler out. On John's list of heroes was Hitler. There's no way that is in any way allowable or OK, there is no way to process that. You have to say John had clay feet if he was able to make that choice. We can overlook these things, pass over them as if, Oh, it was the folly of youth. But Hitler's not the folly of youth: it's really a stupid decision. So that had to go.”

Jann Haworth worked on the cover of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and currently has a show at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK © Steve Milner

Haworth, who was born in California but made her name as an artist in London in the 1960s, often goes unmentioned when Sgt Pepper is discussed, unlike her then-husband Blake. “It's often difficult for people to get inside the idea of collaboration,” she says on the podcast. “Where does one person leave off and where does another begin? Where do we establish credit? Where are the prejudices for credit and things like that? Without getting into the the diatribe of that, for the later things like the 50 year anniversary, everybody's claiming authorship of Sgt Pepper.” She adds: “Paul [McCartney] says he did 100%, Peter says he did 100%, I say I did 50%. So it's a 250% cover.”

Another key figure is often omitted when the cover is discussed: the photographer Michael Cooper, who shot the sculptural collage that Blake and Haworth had assembled. The full credit on the album reads: “Cover by MC Productions (Coopers company) and The Apple (The Beatles company); staged by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth; photographed by Michael Cooper”.

In recent years, Haworth has returned to the Sgt Pepper cover, first with a mural called SLC Pepper in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2007—she now lives between there and Sundance in the same state—and in the recent mural Work in Progress, which continues to grow, made with her and Blakes daughter, the artist Liberty Blake. And she has sought to correct the imbalances among the Sgt Pepper throng in these recent works:

Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake's Work in Progress (2016) Photo: Alex Johnstone © Courtesy of the artist

“I sat down by my fire in Sundance, and I thought: Okay, how many women are on this cover? And there was 12, six of whom were fRead More – Source