My latest illo for Ryan Cox's rock n' roll poetry book A Circus Mind (see the other illos I've done for this project here)! Clearly, this one is total Beatlemania and more specifically that peerless eclectic conceptual album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Lots of Beatles trivia and imagery in this one!
Prints of this image and more on my Society6 shop.
Naturally I had to incorporate those iconic satin miltary-style uniforms, down to the Ontario Provincial Police patch on Paul's. As a proud Ontarian I couldn't miss out on that!
The "Sgt. Pepper" name was inspired by Beatles' road assistant Mal Evans asking what the "S" and P" on the little packets accompanying their meal meant -- Paul jokingly responded "Sergeant Pepper". Here's a great read about the album, taken from a Paul McCartney interview. So of course I had to include actual salt and pepper.
There was once a rumour floating around that said John Lennon composed "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the piano with his middle finger after injuring his forefinger: Not true! Still, I added that in for fun. And the song was briefly titled "Bad Finger Boogie", for what it's worth. He's also holding a kite to refer to the song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" which doesn't have much to do with actual kite. I stuck rain and lightning behind John because I wanted to contrast his more moody personality with sunny Paul. And I couldn't resist the classic imagery of someone flying a kite on a stormy day.
Ringo is holding a revolver because the album previous to Sgt. Pepper was "Revolver". In his other hand is a marshmallow pie, recalling a lyric in "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Sgt. Pepper features a lot of Indian instruments, so I stuck a tambura behind Ringo.
Paul is reading one hand on a tabla (an Indian drum). He's got the Kellogg's Corn Flakes rooster over one shulder because that cereal inspired the track "Good Morning Good Morning". By John's right elbow is a jelly baby. That popular British candy was thrown by fans onto the stage because it was reported that George Harrison liked them. "With a Little Help From My Friends" originally had a line that went "...throw tomatoes at me" but that was revised after the band feared they'd be pelted with tomatoes the same way enthusiastic fans threw jelly babies at them!
George has got a parking meter beside him which symbolizes the eponymous traffic warden of the song "Lovely Rita". The fern and the french horn are callbacks to the original album cover. A true masterpiece!
Initial concept sketch: