A Sgt Peppers album signed by all four Beatles is being auctioned by Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London on June 29. I haven't seen any news coverage on it, so I wanted to get the word out.
Band-signed Sgt Peppers albums are very rare and highly desirable. Only 7 to 9 examples are known to exist that are accepted as genuine by leading Beatles autograph experts. The last one sold for more than $179,000 at RR Auction in January 2014.
Not only do the autographs look clearly genuine, the signing history of this album is completely verifiable. In fact, I did just that.
Last week I talked to the consignor of the Sgt. Pepper's album, Paul Minett, who got the album signed; and two of his friends who were there the June night in 1967 when John, Paul and George signed it (Ringo signed it years later): Gordon Bryce and Lizzie Bravo, one of the legendary "Apple Scruffs."
I've had the pleasure of knowing Lizzie since 2010, when she became a member of this site to join a blog we posted on authenticating signed Beatles albums:
Paul, Gordon and the album are featured in Lizzie's amazing new book about her years seeing the Beatles in London from 1967-69, Do Rio a Abbey Road (From Rio to Abbey Road). Currently available only in Portuguese, an English version is in the works.
Paul Minett's signed Sgt Peppers album featured in Lizzie Bravo's new book about her days in London following the Beatles, Do Rio a Abbey Road (From Rio to Abbey Road).
I recorded my conversations with Paul, Gordon and Lizzie but these were my first attempts at recording through Skype and they're taking a lot sound editing. The auction is next Wednesday so I didn't want to wait any longer to tell you about the album. Here's what Paul has to say:
"On Thursday, the first of June, 1967, my good friend Gordon and I joined half of Britain, rushing out to buy a copy of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We never dreamt that within a few weeks we would meet the Beatles and have our photographs taken with them.
Gordon and I were nineteen and on Monday evening the 19th of June, we were walking back to our homes in West London when we were stopped by two American girls, Patricia and Kathy, who wanted to know how to get to Abbey Road Studios. We were heading that way, so it seemed easier to take them there rather than give them directions. One of the best decisions we have ever made. We crossed the legendary zebra crossing and arrived at the studios.
Besides a couple of other fans, there was nobody else around. The four of us decided to stay for a while and wait for any sign that the Beatles might be there. In those days you could simply go through the gates of Abbey Road Studios and right up to the main entrance.
After a while we spotted the recognizable figure of Beatles roadie and friend, Mal Evans. Heartened by this, we stayed on and were rewarded by our first sighting of a Beatle. It was John, simply leaving one of the studios and crossing the corridor, but it was enough to make the wait worthwhile. A little while later Paul, too, crossed the corridor, giving an encouraging wave to us on the doorstep.
Two days later we were back and so were the Beatles. They were mixing rhythm tracks for "All You Need Is Love" in preparation for the "Our World" television link-up to be broadcast live four days later on Sunday 25th June. Word had clearly got round as there were far more people outside the studios that evening and the atmosphere was electric.
Gordon and I brought our copies of Sgt Pepper with us in the hope of getting them signed. We weren’t disappointed. Around ten o’clock John, Paul and George left the building, perfectly happy to sign autographs and pose for photographs. Not only did Gordon and I get our albums signed, but I managed to get several nice photographs.
Unfortunately, Ringo wasn’t in the studio that evening so his signature would have to wait."
And wait they did. It was 30 years before Paul was lucky enough to get Ringo's autograph on his album.
"Finally, for my 50th birthday in 1997, a television producer friend of mine, who knew I had a Sgt Pepper album with John, Paul and George’s signatures, said “I’ve got a birthday present for you. Terry Oates, Managing Director of Eaton-Oates Music (Ringo’s publishers) is a good chum of mine and has offered to ask Ringo to sign your album.”
I took it into their offices near Sloane Square and sure enough, Ringo signed it."
I spent more than two wonderful hours listening to Paul and Lizzie talk about those days and Paul's Sgt Pepper album. Lizzie didn't actually see Paul and Gordon get their albums signed, but she saw them at Abbey Road Studios the night they did and knew about the albums.
Two days later I enjoyed an equally fascinating 40-minute call with Paul and Gordon, talking about getting the albums signed and life as an up close Beatles fan back in the late 1960s.
The provenance of Paul's album is rock-solid.
What about Gordon's Sgt Pepper album, you ask? He lost track of it and most of his mementos from those days long ago, sadly. We can only hope it still exists and he or someone else will find it someday...and convince Ringo to sign it!
Go to the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album's page at Bonhams to read more about the album and zoom-in for a close-up look. It's lot 238.
If you don't plan to bid on it, be sure to share it with all the Beatles collectors you know. It could be many years before another one is available.