Saturday Night Music Byte
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is an American musical film released in 1978. Its soundtrack, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, features new versions of songs originally written and performed by The Beatles. The film draws primarily from two of their albums, 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and 1969’s Abbey Road.
The production is somewhat adapted from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road, a 1974 off-Broadway production directed by Tom O’Horgan. It tells the loosely-constructed story of a band as they wrangle with the music industry and battle evil forces bent on stealing their instruments and corrupting their home town of Heartland. The film is presented in a form similar to that of a rock opera with the Beatles’ songs providing “dialogue” to carry the story, with only George Burns having spoken lines that act to clarify the plot and provide further narration.
The feature performers were:
- The Bee Gees, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, whose music had been integral to Saturday Night Fever (released by this film’s international distributor, Paramount Pictures), play Mark, David and Bob Henderson, members of the re-formed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
- Peter Frampton, whose album Frampton Comes Alive! was the biggest-selling live album ever at the time, plays Billy Shears, leader of the re-formed band and grandson of the original Sgt. Pepper character.
- Steve Martin, whose A Wild and Crazy Guy was released that same year, reaching number two on the music-dominated Billboard 200 album charts. His performance as Dr. Maxwell Edison, singing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, foreshadows his zany dentist role in Little Shop of Horrors.
The cast also featured British comedian Frankie Howerd as Mean Mr. Mustard (his only major U.S. film appearance), Paul Nicholas as Dougie Shears, George Burns as Mr. Kite, Donald Pleasence as B.D., referred to in Burns’ narrative voice-over as B.D. Hoffler, but officially known in the film’s credits and publicity materials as B.D. Brockhurst (for unknown reasons), Sandy Farina as Strawberry Fields, Dianne Steinberg as Lucy, Aerosmith as Future Villain Band (FVB), Earth Wind and Fire, who appear as themselves, Billy Preston as the magical Sgt. Pepper golden weather vane come to life, Alice Cooper as Father Sun, and Stargard as the Diamonds.
The movie stinks, but here is a video clip of Alice Cooper from the film.