On this day in music history: July 22, 1978 - “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by George Martin, Maurice White and Jack Douglas, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Northstar Studios in Boulder, CO, The Record Plant in New York City, Abbey Road Studios and AIR Studios in London from September 1977 - May 1978. In 1977, RSO Records founder Robert Stigwood having produced the musicals “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” in London, moves into film. Making film versions of the musical “Grease” and “Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night” (“Saturday Night Fever”), he also adapts another property for the big screen. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band On The Road”, an off-Broadway musical featuring the music of The Beatles, stars Ted Neely (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), Alaina Reed Hall (“Sesame Street”, “227”) and David Patrick Kelly (“The Warriors”). The producer decides that it is a perfect film vehicle for the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. Beatles producer George Martin is hired to produce the majority of the soundtrack. Michael Schultz (“Car Wash”, “Which Way Is Up?”) one of the first successful African American film directors, helms the production. It features a cast of star performers including George Burns, Steve Martin, Frankie Howerd and Donald Pleasance. It also features Billy Preston, Alice Cooper, Paul Nicholas, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aerosmith and Stargard. The soundtrack consisting of twenty nine re-recorded Beatle classics, and is thought to be an assured blockbuster. However it is troubled from the outset, with the Bee Gees and Frampton begging to be let go from the film, but their requests are denied. RSO Records goes all in on the album release, with “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” both enjoying unprecedented box office and album sales, everyone believes “Sgt. Pepper’s” will do the same. The lavish double album set is shipped with more than four million copies landing in record stores. Though it produces hits with Earth, Wind & Fire’s dazzling remake of “Got To Get You Into My Life” (#1 R&B, #9 Pop), Aerosmith’s rocking “Come Together” (#23 Pop) and Robin Gibb’s take on “Oh Darling!” (#15 Pop), the instant and overwhelming negative word of mouth about the film, kills the album’s momentum quickly. It is returned by retailers in record numbers, with RSO destroying and recycling most of them, with the remainder of the $15.98 list soundtrack being sold to cut out vendors for a mere 25 cents a unit. It becomes a symbol of music industry excess, and harbinger of the epic crash of the music industry that follows in 1979. Surprisingly, the album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, having become something of a cult classic over time. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Alaina Reed-Hall was an actress with almost 40 TV and movie shows to her credit. She’s probably best known as “Olivia”, Gordon’s younger sister on Sesame Street, and for her role on the television sitcom, 227. She also appeared in Broadway in productions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (1974), Chicago (1975–77), Hair (1977), Eubie! (1978–1979) and off Broadway productions such as A …My Name is Alice (1974).