Music Memories: Steve Goss Recalls Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Album

Steve Goss with the copy of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" that he received 50 years ago.
Steve Goss with the copy of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" that he received 50 years ago.
Credit John Lorinc / WABE

WABE’s John Lorinc interviews Host emeritus Steve Goss about his memories of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

On June 1, 1967, the Beatles released their eighth album: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

It was an immediate hit, topping the U.S. charts for 15 weeks and 27 weeks in the U.K.

One person who got a copy of “Sgt. Pepper” during the legendary “Summer of Love” was WABE’s “Morning Edition” host emeritus Steve Goss.

He was a teenager in Rhode Island at the time and his girlfriend got him a copy.

And even though Goss had been a fan of the group since their U.S. debut in 1964, this album caught him off guard.

“It’s got all this orchestration to it,” Goss said. “There are different textures to the songs. If you had been used to the four-piece band that I had been used to that came out of Liverpool, this was really a big departure.  And it took me quite a while to get used to it. And I played it and I played it more and more, and the more I played it the more I realized this is really extraordinary.”

Time magazine declared “Sgt. Pepper” was a “historic departure in the progress of music” and Rolling Stone magazine once named it the greatest album of all time.

“It changed a lot of people’s heads at the time, and it certainly did mine, and I was at that, you know, impressionable age, you know as a teenager at 15 and I went with it. I mean I embraced it,” Goss said.

There are 13 songs on “Sgt. Pepper” but even after half-a-century, Goss still can’t pick a favorite.

“I like the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ reprise on the second side with the drumming; ‘A Little Help From My Friends’ I liked … certainly that was Ringo (Starr’s) greatest vocal performance to date.  I know that’s not saying much, God bless him.  ‘Within You, Without You’ doesn’t belong on the album … it’s the odd man in there, but I don’t know if there’s any songs on the album that I don’t like.”

“Sgt. Pepper” won four Grammys in 1968, including Album of the Year.  That was the first time a rock album had received that honor.

“To this day in all my life, the Beatles still are a sense of joy for me, personally.  I listen to their music and I feel comfort, I feel joy, I feel happiness and I still feel that way with this,” Goss said.

“Sgt. Pepper” has sold more than 32 million copies across the globe and is among the highest-selling albums of all time.

A remastered version of the album is being released later this month in honor of its 50th anniversary.