Unreleased film footage from Sgt Pepper launch party

In their upcoming Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction, the company Gotta Have Rock and Roll has announced a very interesting lot. Film footage from the “Sgt Pepper’ Lonely Hearts Club Band” launch party at Brian Epstein’s home in London on May 19, 1967. The footage has not been known by Beatles fans until now.

On May 19th 1967, the Beatles gathered at Brian Epstein’s house in Chapel Street, Belgravia, for the launch party of their new album, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Among the invited guests were all the top music journalists and DJs, including one visiting American photographer, Linda Eastman. Paul McCartney and Linda had just met four nights earlier, at the Bag O’Nails night club in London. They were reacquainted at the launch party, and married two years later.

Once the press had sufficient time to take pictures, the Beatles stopped posing as a group and started to mingle with the other party guests.

Quite a number of photos from this launch party exist, but this is the first time we’ve heard about film footage. Here’s the description (the auction house describes this as a video, but it is a reel of 16 mm film footage):

Beatles Original Unreleased Video Footage from Their 1967 Sgt. Pepper Launch Party Concert (of course, this was not a concert – another mistake by the auction house)

Presented here is an original, unreleased video reel of 20 minutes of footage, with sound, taken at the Beatles launch party for their album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that their manager Brian Epstein hosted at his London home on May 9, 1967 (sic). All four Beatles attended, including their road managers Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans. This was a small, intimate party where select group of important journalists, broadcasters, and a few photographers (including Linda Eastman, who would later marry Paul to become Linda McCartney) were invited to talk to John, George, Paul and Ringo about the album, it was the first time that “Sgt Pepper” was played for the media.

Authentication: Letter of Authenticity and a Gotta Have Rock and Roll Certificate of Authenticity.

Minimum Bid: $5,000, Estimate: $50,000 – $100,000.

Alcohol was flowing freely at the party, and especially John Lennon was reported to have been particularly tipsy. Unfortunately, no sample video has been provided so far, and the description doesn’t indicate whether the footage was filmed in colour or black and white. However, for 16mm film in 1967, colour was usually standard.

Here is a depiction of the launch party, from the New Musical Express, dated May 27, 1967:

JUST a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace stands Brian Epstein’s four-storey Georgian house. On either side live doctors, business executives, architects and actors — several houses in the quiet street are up for sale.

Parked outside Epstein’s house is a Rolls-Royce but it’s not his — probably the architect’s. The car he generally uses — a white Mini — is on the other side of the street. Behind it stands a black Mini with smoked windows. It belongs to George.

The door-bell is answered by Epstein’s driver Brian, who says: “Go straight in. They’re up there somewhere.” Through the glass doors and on a shelf on the right is an antique clock — a Christmas present from Paul McCartney to Brian Epstein, who is standing beside it.

He is telling disc jockeys Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman and Kenny Everett about the LP cover. Brian is delighted with it. Also in the room is Peter Brown, Brian’s right-hand man who resembles a 30-year-old Ernest Hemingway.

In the centre of the room is a table laden with salads, radishes, fruit, cheeses, eggs, cream, hams and loads of other goodies.

The Beatles are at the moment upstairs surrounded by a horde of photographers. Brian welcomes the other guests as they arrive while Peter Brown plies them with champagne. Brian’s secretary Joanne Newfield flutters around delightfully, making everyone feel at home and the Beatles’ press officer Tony Barrow distributes cigarettes.

Photographers start coming down the stairs then road manager Neil Aspinall — now wearing a moustache — appears with the group.

“Just one more shot on the doorstep boys,” Tony Barrow instructs the photographers.

Two minutes later the Beatles reappear minus the photographers. George and John head for the table and start eating, Paul tries to, but is cornered by two enthusiastic writers. Ringo stands smoking and talking to Jimmy Savile who’s wearing a jacket which looks like one of Fatty Arbuckle’s cast-offs.

Paul is trapped over at the window by the two scribes and begins looking round for someone to rescue him, Tony Barrow asks everyone to go upstairs to the lounge. Everyone wanders up to the spacious lounge where the LP is playing. For a couple of hours everyone chats and drinks.

Brian Epstein leaves early to head to his country cottage in Sussex. George is the first Beatle to leave — somewhat abruptly. One writer has apparently put his foot in it and upset him.

The other three slowly drift off and the evening draws to a close.

The auction also features many other interesting lots, like instruments played by The Beatles, their Monterey poster, gold records, personal letters and papers etc. Here’s a link to Beatles related items in the auction.

UPDATE:

It seems the original listings of the item as from the Sgt. Pepper launch party was made in error and the lot is now listed as The Beatles Original 16mm Unreleased Unedited Video Footage from 2/10/1967 “A Day in the Life” Orchestral Recording Sessions. Well, we knew that that was filmed, as participating celebrities were handed movie cameras in order to film for inserts in the “A Day In The Life” promotional film. This is 20 minutes worth of unedited footage with sound.

12 Responses

  1. Danny Jones says:

    possible the grim spectre of j*mmy S*ville may cast its ugly shadow over the possibility of this film ever seeing general release – depending on how much the disgraced jockey appears in it?

  2. mpb says:

    the photo is left-right reversed here. let’s hope the film isn’t. 🙂

    • mpb says:

      oops nevermind. photo is fine. just an odd angle.
      (still, let’s hope the film isn’t left-right reversed) 🙂

  3. James Peet says:

    It sounds fantastic, though I’m more than troubled that vile creature S*vile is lurking about. Hopefully he isn’t in all or most of the footage.

    Anyway, we’ll have to see whether this film is fit to broadcast.

  4. Tony says:

    Just edit saville out
    It just seems endless the beatles stuff that keeps appearing

  5. db says:

    Hi, Roger!

    I think they somehow mistakenly labeled it as the Sgt. Pepper launch party but the link you provided now says, “The Beatles Original 16mm Unreleased Unedited Video Footage from Historic 2/10/1967 “A Day in the Life” Orchestral Recording Sessions” –which kind of explains why they called it a party concert!

    • Andrew says:

      So is it now to assume that this footage and article is a false lead?

      • admin says:

        Yes, it seems they had assumed incorrectly that this was footage from the launch party and described it as such, and then found that it was something completely different.

  6. Andrew Rodgers says:

    Interesting. I was just reading about this event the other day on the Beatles Bible and read that press were invited. But wandered why there was no film footage. Would be great if they could insert newly found stiff into an Anthology rehash.

  7. Danny Jones says:

    in all honesty – i would prefer this “Footage from Historic 2/10/1967 “A Day in the Life” Orchestral Recording Sessions” anyway to the launch party

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