On August 29, 1966, The Beatles performed in concert for what would be the last time at Candlestick Park, San Francisco. Following their final number, “Long Tall Sally,” they took a picture of themselves on stage, then headed off into the night. As their plane spirited them back to Los Angeles, George Harrison announced, “Well, that’s it. I’m not a Beatle anymore” as he sank into his seat. They wouldn’t enter the studio again for another three months. After nearly four hectic years of Beatlemania, it was time to figure out what to do next.
The “Penny Lane”/“Strawberry Fields Forever” single, released six months later in February 1967, gave a taste of what was to come, drawing on a dazzling array of new sounds. Nonetheless, no one was quite prepared for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” when it was finally released on June 1, 1967. It was The Beatles’ most imaginative work to date; the group had created a colorful new world and invited the listener inside to join them. The Beatles had reinvented what the idea of a “rock album” could be, and nothing would ever be the same in pop music again.