×

Who’s the Real Sgt. Pepper? New Beatles Book Unveils Identity of Soldier Seen on Album Cover

While the picture of the man depicting “Sgt. Pepper” in the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album looks like a character out of a story book, he was actually a real person. His name was James Melvin Babington, and author Bruce Spizer says his new book  “The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fans’ Perspective,” reveals his identity and a little of his history for the first time.

Spizer, who talked about the discovery and the book this week on the weekly Beatles podcast “Things We Said Today,” credited the find to Frank Daniels, who wrote an essay for the book on Babington under the pseudo name Max Gretinski. “Both of us try to top each other with finding obscure stuff that I jokingly say only you, me and 15 other people in the world will care about,” Spizer told the radio show. Babington’s identity was confirmed by one of the men who were involved with creating the cover, Spizer said.

In the essay, Gretinksi (Daniels) details some of Babington’s military history, including his service in the 16th Queen’s Lancers in the Second Boer War and the First Calvary Brigade in South Africa. While much wasn’t known about his history in 1967, Babington’s face was, the essay says, because it was included in the book “Celebrities of the Army.”

“You knew about Beatle cards, but in the U.K. they had military history cards. And Major Gen. Babington was also one of these people that was on a card,” Spizer said. “So I think the artists got the idea to have the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ cutout card from those cards and out of those cards picked this one as their model.”

And there’s no question about whether the picture in the “Sgt. Pepper” album is Babington. The book includes side-by-side pictures of Babington and the mythical Sgt. Pepper. “As they said in ‘Yellow Submarine,’ the resemblance is uncanny,” Spizer quipped.

The discovery comes on the heels of the release of several CD sets by the Beatles May 26 that include a new remix of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by Giles Martin, son of the late Sir George Martin, and Sam Okell based on the original monaural mix which was preferred by the Beatles and that had several differences from the stereo mix. The largest set, six discs with four CDs, a DVD and a Blu-ray disc, includes the remix, discs of album outtakes, rarities and a monaural version of the album, plus video content.

More Music

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco to Host MTV VMAs

    MTV has announced that comedian, actor and best-selling author Sebastian Maniscalco will host the 2019 “VMAs” live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, Aug. 26. Last year, Maniscalco published his best selling book “Stay Hungry,” followed by a stand up tour of the same name. The comedian has also sold out [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Fire Plot Thickens as New York Times Uncovers List of Affected Artists

    Lawsuits have been filed asking the Universal Music Group to come up with a complete accounting of recordings lost in the 2008 fire on the studio lot that destroyed untold thousands of master recordings, and UMG is unlikely to comply with those requests soon, for any number of practical or legal reasons. But the New [...]

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Cardi B Indictment

    Cardi B Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges Stemming From Bar Fight

    Cardi B and two co-defendants pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges Tuesday in regards to a Queens bar fight in August of last year. Originally only charged with misdemeanors, the rapper (whose original name is Belcalis Almanzar) was later indicted with two felony counts of attempted assault on Friday after denying a plea [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler Set for Special Performance at New York Pride (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler is set to appear at New York’s Pride Main Event this Saturday (June 29) at the Javits Center. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, she’ll perform a song accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, of “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins Returns” fame. Her stage time is set for 11 p.m. Also scheduled to [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs For Screens: Labrinth on Scoring HBO’s Drake-Produced Drama 'Euphoria'

    British singer-songwriter Labrinth (née Timothy Lee McKenzie) has been having one of the biggest years of his nearly decade-long career, from the April release of his collaborative album with L.S.D. (a.k.a. Labrinth Sia & Diplo) to his starring role in the latest campaign for MINI, where he reinterprets Cole Porter’s cowboy classic “Don’t Fence Me [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Grammy Nomination Announcements Bumped Up to Nov. 20

    In accordance with the entire schedule for the Grammys being bumped up to avoid a conflict with the Oscars in 2020, a date has been set for the announcement of the nominees later this year: Nov. 20. That’s 17 days ahead of the Dec. 7 date when the previous slate of Grammy nominations was released [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content