The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ hits No. 3 in Billboard 50 years later

Paul McCartney came up with “Sgt. Pepper” when he misheard someone ask to pass the salt and pepper. (June 7, 2017)

The Beatles are once again in the upper reaches of the Billboard 200 albums chart as the 50th anniversary edition of the group’s 1967 classic, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” jumped to No. 3 a week after the release of the new stereo remix.

In terms of total equivalent sales factoring in streams, “Sgt. Pepper” logged 75,000 sales last week, behind only rapper Bryson Tiller’s “True to Self,” which tops the chart with equivalent sales of almost 107,000 copies, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn.,” at No. 2 on sales of 84,000 copies.

For the record:

10:04 p.m. Aug. 24, 2019An earlier edition of this post misidentified one of the Beatles’ albums still on the Billboard 200 as “The Beatles,” aka “The White Album” from 1968, Along with “Abbey Road,” it is “The Beatles 1" hits collection fro 2000 that is currently on that chart. Their chart positions also were listed incorrectly: “Abbey Road” is at No. 129 and “The Beatles 1" is at No. 119.

On Billboard’s sales-only ranking, however, “Sgt. Pepper” is No. 1 with physical and digital sales of 71,000, compared to 47,000 for Tiller’s “True to Self.”

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Billboard is treating the new stereo remix as an extension of the original 1967 release, and lists total sales in the Nielsen era dating to 1991 at 4.89 million copies.


Two other Beatles collections also still make the Billboard 200: “The Beatles 1” hits compilation from 2000, which is at No. 119 on total Nielsen-era sales of 12.8 million copies, and “Abbey Road” from 1969, ranked at No. 129 and sales of almost 5.4 million over the last quarter-century.

For the 50th anniversary, surviving members of the group, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, joined with John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, in authorizing producer Giles Martin, son of their original producer George Martin, to go back to the original multi-track tapes for a new mix of the album that Rolling Stone magazine ranked as the greatest album of all time in a 2012 poll.

The project is the first remix of an entire Beatles album and was taken on because in 1967 the Beatles and George Martin focused almost entirely on the monaural mix of that album, leaving the stereo mix to other engineers at London’s Abbey Road studio, who spent considerably less time on that version than was devoted to the mono edition.

The remixed “Sgt. Pepper” has been the focus of a flurry of activity, a full slate of different versions of the album, including CD, vinyl and digital in various packages, a new PBS TV special “Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution” that premiered on June 3 and the arrival of a dedicated Beatles radio channel on SiriusXM satellite radio service.

On the album’s original release on June 1, 1967, in Britian and and the following day in the U.S., “Sgt. Pepper” reached No. 1 in Billboard and remained in the top slot for 15 weeks. It stayed in the Top 200 for 175 weeks, more than three years.


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