I described the 50th anniversary box set of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” in a post in July 2017. Way back in 2008–2009, when I was preparing an exhibition of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art, I felt that Jann Haworth, his former wife and co-designer of Blake’s most famous cover, had almost been forgotten. Whenever one reads about Peter Blake, in articles or exhibition catalogues, he is invariably introduced as “the designer of the Sgt. Pepper cover”. Indeed, he has said that this is “an albatross sitting on his shoulder”. So I contacted Jann and she was most helpful providing details of the construction of the Pepper set up and even sent pictures. She also agreed to sign my copy original “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” LP that Peter Blake had previously signed.
We discussed the gender and racial imbalances of the figures represented on the cover and Jann told me this was something she had been thinking about and tried to redress in a “Pepper” mural in her home town of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
In late 2018 I bought a copy of the 50th anniversary “Sgt. Pepper” LP signed by Sir Peter Blake at a gallery in Liverpool. I thought it would be cool to have this anniversary album signed by both Blake and Haworth, so I contacted her again. She was more than happy to help out and I didn’t waste a moment before posting the record and a couple of other “Pepper” covers to the address I had been given ten years before. I should have checked Jann’s address before posting as it transpired she had moved from the old address. Despite her efforts to trace the parcel it was never delivered to her but found its way back to me in January 2019. So, I repackaged the covers and, after confirming Jann’s address, sent them again.
Jann was busy painting two new murals and had a deadline to keep, so the covers sat with her until the end of March. They arrived in mid April. Jann had signed nine items:
1. The 2017 Pepper anniversary LP signed previously by Peter Blake,
2. The Album cover from the 2017 box set containing four CDs, a DVD & a Blu-Ray disc
3. All four of the CD covers from the above,
4. The stage set from the Japanese 50th anniversary box set, and
5. The cover of an old 1967 copy of “Sgt. Pepper”.
6. The insert from the above.
In the package was a handwritten letter describing the soft figures she made for the Pepper cover. She had made the Shirley Temple doll in 1965 or 1966 and, on the cover, it was sitting in the lap of an old lady. I had never really noticed the old lady–and I suspect few other people had either. The old lady, Jann told me,was modelled on a photo of her great grandmother, a seamstress who had been widowed early and had to raise two children on her own.
Since the arrival of the signed records Jann has kept me informed of some of her current projects, including a joint “Work in Progress” mural with her daughter Liberty Blake. This mural is in seven panels and has been shown in several museums.
I recently asked her if she had been involve in any other designs for record covers and it transpires that she has produced one other–a limited edition artwork.
Jann told me of her work with Joe Ephgrave, the fairground painter who painted the drum om the “Sgt. Pepper” cover. He painted different versions of the Pepper title on each side of the drum. The one we are all familiar with, and another version that he considered “more modern”, that I had not seen until now.
Joe was paid £25 for the drum painting and disappeared soon afterwards. Internet searches have failed to find any information about him–and there are suggestions that he never existed! However, Jann has scotched that rumour. She has taken Joe’s painting of a tiger and produced a record cover of sorts. In July 2008 the “Pepper” drum was sold at Christie’s for £541,250 ($1.07 million).
To almost round off my collection of the 50th anniversary issues of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” releases I added the limited edition picture disc to my collection.
The only version of the 50th anniversary issues of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” releases I don’t yet have is the double LP version. Perhaps I’ll try to get that some day.