I have tried, at all cost, to stress that who I am, is not as important as to whom I am not. I am a "castle keep". There are some that believe me to be Sir Paul. Others, Bill. When dealing with Sgt. Pepper, keep in mind that we are dealing with a parody of a satire, based on a band that NEVER existed. In those terms, Dr. Leary was correct in saying, "This time around, you can be anybody you want."
John echoed the same in "I Dig a Pony." Just know that "I WAS" there.
Apollo C Vermouth
Points to ponder...
So many of the supposed “clues” found on MMT seem to point back towards Sgt Pepper.
Case in point:
Hidden on the Pepper cover is a WALRUS.
Using your trusty mirror, place it vertically touching Diana Dors left elbow.
Yet, this “clue” pre-dates any mention in Beatle lore of a walrus. That would come on the following release, MMT….Apollo C Vermouth
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.Alice to the Mock Turtle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Which is interesting; not least because Ringo Starr would play the role of the Mock Turtle in a 1985 made-for-TV film version, or because Jane Asher, the former partner of Paul McCartney, had played the role of Alice in 1958, or indeed, because the aforementioned McCartney had written his opus ‘Yesterday’ whilst residing with the Asher’s – most likely whilst under the hypnotic suggestion of Dr Richard Asher - and who would become the subject of a long running death and replacement theory, but largely because Sgt. Pepper is loaded with Alice in Wonderland symbolism.
In the book Alice journeys into an alternative world by travelling through the looking glass. By utilising a looking glass (a mirror) the Sgt. Pepper cover allows us to do the exact same thing.
The author of the Alice books; ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There’, Lewis Carroll, appears on the album cover, amongst the pantheon of the great and the good of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You can see him next to the palm-tree, in front of Lawrence of Arabia and behind Marlene Dietrich.
Now T. E. Lawrence (of the aforementioned Arabia was also the author of a book entitled the Seven Pillars of Wisdom) had once worked for British intelligence producing maps and that is a huge clue that what we are looking at with the Pepper cover is indeed a map. It is also a clue that we need to study the individuals that make up the Pepper assemblage – the Pepperati, if you will - and decode the clues that they inevitably reveal.
Indeed, as we have already discovered, the word dietrich in German translates as skeleton key, and this can enable us to produce a rebus utilising the characters of Carroll, Dietrich, Shirley Temple and Diana Dors (who all appear together on the album cover) that states; Carroll [is the] Key [to the] Temple Door.
It is in understanding, I believe, the subtle word-play and hidden meanings contained within Sgt. Pepper that will allow us to crack the Sgt. Pepper code.
On the LP cover Lewis Carroll is stood next to a palm-tree, as is Diana Dors. This is telling us where to look. To paraphrase the rebus Carroll is the Key to the Door and, I believe, the door lock is represented by Miss Dor’s elbow. So, Lewis Carroll wrote ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and a looking glass is a mirror. If we were to look through a looking glass we would expect to see a reflected image, therefore, if we put a mirror to the elbow of Miss Dors it should come as no surprise to find something and, indeed we do, we discover the image of a walrus.
Why a walrus? Well the Walrus and the Carpenter is a poem that appears in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and whilst the walrus on the cover is something of a magic-eye type image which not everybody can see, it is confirmation that we are on the right track. Interestingly, Beatles producer, George Martin’s father was a carpenter and via the cover we can discover a curious coincidence. To produce the walrus we must put a mirror to the elbow of the gold dressed Diana Dors who stands next to the palm-tree. D’or in French means gold and in 1987, twenty years after Pepper’s release, George Martin produced a documentary about the album that was called ‘It was Twenty years ago today’ for which he would win a coveted Palme D’or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes film festival.
Either by accident or design, The Beatles have concocted a clue for the future from the past.
But what is the relevance of the walrus? Well apart from numerous Beatle references; I am the walrus, the walrus was Paul etc. the ‘Walrus’ was also the name of Capt. Flint’s pirate ship in the book ‘Treasure Island’. A book John had read as a child and which clearly influenced him.
“I never see myself as not an artist,” he said to me that morning. “I never let myself believe that an artist can ‘run dry.’ I’ve always had this vision of bein’ 60 and writing children’s books. I don’t know why. It’d be a strange thing for a person who doesn’t really have much to do with children. I’ve always had that feeling of giving what Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island gave to me at age seven and eight. Those books opened my whole being.”
Long John Silver, the infamous pirate from the Treasure Island book served upon the Walrus as did his colleague, Billy Bones. As we have already noted, a previous incarnation of The Beatles was called Long John Silver and the Beetles.
|From Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles by Tony Bramwell|
Therefore we can claim to have discovered both silver (silver beetles) and gold (Diana Dors = gold) hidden upon the cover indicating that we are embarking upon a metaphorical quest for treasure and that the record cover is the map. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a parody of a non-existent group being portrayed by The Beatles, therefore, the band are in character. Clearly John is Long John Silver and so, presumably, Paul is Billy Bones.
John Lennon once said of The Beatles on the Sgt. Pepper cover that “…two are flying, two are not.” This was assumed to be an inside joke but I believe it is a clue that, in order to crack The Sgt. Pepper Code, we need only concern ourselves with John and Paul.
Palm-trees regularly appear on pirate treasure maps and this may therefore explain the presence of the palm-tree on the Pepper cover. In this case the palm is a symbolic X marking the spot where we need to dig.
Not convinced? Okay, let me give you more.
There exists in nature a bug entitled a Dor Beetle, ergo Diana Dors is the Golden Beetle (as opposed to the Silver Beetle) or the Gold Bug which allows us to form a link between Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island author), and Pepper alumni Edgar Allan Poe; he who takes such a kicking on ‘I am the Walrus’. Interestingly, Poe wrote a poem entitled The Literati of New York City which includes a line about ‘golden doors’ and ‘wonderland’.
The story of ‘The Gold-Bug’, like Treasure Island, is also a treasure trail, specifically, in this case, for the treasure of Captain Kidd. Wiki says:
“The Gold-Bug” inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel about treasure-hunting, Treasure Island. Indeed Stevenson publically acknowledged this influence: “I broke into the gallery of Mr Poe... No doubt the skeleton [in my novel] is conveyed from Poe.”
Stevenson also admits that he took the idea of Captain Flint’s skeleton point from Poe’s ‘The Gold-Bug’.
The skeleton reference derives from the fact that in ‘Treasure Island’ they search for the hidden loot upon Skeleton Island, so named because to find the treasure you must first find the dead pirate’s skeleton which points to the correct path.
Billy’s bones - Skeleton point? ‘The skeleton points in the direction we need to go’. Back (to Pepper)
On the Pepper cover, Billy Bones represents the dead pirate and it is he who will lead us to the treasure.
Of course, up to now, I have avoided getting too heavily immersed into the topic of PID (Paul is Dead). The Pepper cover does indeed show a funeral scene and, in the ‘Treasure Island’ book, Paul’s character Billy Bones does die. Upon this event the protagonists discover that the key to the dead man’s chest hangs around the neck of Billy Bones. It is in this chest that they discover a book and the map to Capt. Flint’s treasure. The book contains the strange legend “Off Palm Key he got itt (sic)”.
We have already deduced that Lewis Carroll is the key, and, as confirmation, he is standing next to the palm-tree. If we seek further confirmation perhaps we can find it in the personage of Issy Bonn who stands directly behind Paul/Billy.
I have already postulated that Issy Bonn’s curious pose may represent the Dead Man’s Hand, the supposed hand of cards that Wild Bill Hickok was in possession of at the time of his death, and that contained the unturned card of the Queen of Hearts with its inevitable Alice in Wonderland connection.
Of course we should not forget that Sgt. Pepper is a parody of a band that never existed (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and that, therefore, the album cover is a parody of a writer who does not appear upon the cover, a la Edgar Rice Burroghs and Shakespeare/Francis Bacon.
So, what would be contained within a dead man’s chest? In the Treasure Island book they discover a map in the chest which leads them to Skeleton Island, the place where Capt. Flint stowed his stash. As this is a parody we need to search for a metaphorical clue that leads us to treasure and it could be argued that a dead man’s chest may contain a lonely heart.
This leads nicely, of course, to the mirrored drum clue on the Sgt. Pepper cover that was the catalyst for the entire Paul is Dead phenomena.
The legend – widely interpreted as I ONE IX HE ◊ DIE (1 1 9 HE DIE) – is created by holding a mirror (a looking glass clue again) to the words ‘lonely hearts’ on the Sgt. Pepper cover bass drum.
This, in turn, has been taken to represent a date, (either 11 September 1966 or 9 November 1966 depending upon which side of the pond you live) on which Paul McCartney, reputedly, departed this mortal coil. This claim is supported by the fact that the ◊ symbol points up toward McCartney.
A point not previously considered, I believe, is that the ◊ symbol also points down toward the ‘grave’ with Beatles spelt out in red hyacinths.
If one should be so minded as to Google the meaning of the maxim ‘As above, so below’ we would find this Wikipedia image to which I have supplemented a ‘Help’ era Ringo;
The Beatles have again concocted a clue for the future from the past. Therefore, above we have Paul, as Billy Bones who does die, and below a grave for the dead Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe.
Of course nobody truly knows if the mirrored message was deliberate or if it is merely a bizarre fluke of nature. With that caveat in mind, I would like to posit an alternative suggestion.
Perhaps there is a double meaning here and that HE DIE is an anagram of I HEED, therefore it reads; 1 1 9 I HEED. It is on page 119 of ‘Treasure Island’ that we first meet an actual lonely heart: Ben Gunn.
Ben Gunn is a pirate who has been marooned on Skeleton Island for many years and it is he who has already discovered, and recovered, Capt. Flint’s treasure.
So, The Beatles, having killed of their mop-top personas, are presenting us with alternate identities and, in so doing, are illustrating a memorial to their former selves and to their fallen comrade, Stuart Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe, of course, does appear amongst the Pepperati in tribute to his own tragic and premature death. Sutcliffe, of course, was in a proto version of The Beatles – indeed he was a member of Long John Silver and the Beetles. After Stuart’s departure Paul would, of course, replace Stuart on bass guitar.
The main strains of the Paul is Dead/Paul was Replaced myth originated from the fact that what we see on the Pepper cover is a grave also adorned with a floral tribute in the shape of a bass guitar that, according to some, spells the word PAUL.
I repeat; Paul replaced Stuart on bass. Add to that the fact that Stuart Sutcliffe died on a Tuesday and the significance of the line ‘Stupid Bloody Tuesday’ takes on greater meaning. The song that the line comes from? ‘I am the Walrus’, of course.
STU – PID Bloody Tuesday.
Could it really be as simple as that?
Ultimately, I believe so.
The Beatles devised a system whereby through gaining an understanding of the assembled cast one could travel, metaphorically, on a magical mystery tour through a golden door to a temple on a mystery land – let us call it Pepperland – where there exists treasure; knowledge.
Hidden knowledge, available only to those who have been initiated, and through gaining this knowledge one is returned to a world of child-like excitement and awe as encapsulated in books such as ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Treasure Island’.
Why else would John Lennon tell us: “Picture yourself in a boat on a river”, if not to travel this epic journey of understanding.
Of course when the Sgt. Pepper code was devised I don’t expect anybody envisaged that it would take fifty years to solve, but, it is fitting, I believe that as Sgt. Pepper’s golden anniversary looms its gilded treasures should finally be shared with us all.
However, proof that the Sgt. Pepper code should be revealed gradually, drip-fed if you like, can be found in a post Pepper Beatle project, Magical Mystery Tour.
For it is here that we are first introduced to the walrus, our master of disguise, in the November 1967 track ‘I am the Walrus’. This song comes replete with lyrical messages about ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, and its attendant Alice references, and Edgar Allan Poe, he of ‘The Gold-Bug’ fame.
It is only when we merge these Alice themes and their associated word play clues with the treasure seeking aspects of Poe’s ‘The Gold-Bug’ that we can discover ‘Treasure Island’ and the walrus that was there in front of us all along.
After all, it was John in a scene from Magical Mystery Tour who wore a hat with a HEART on it in a scene that took place in a CLUB where he was watching a BAND.
John is telling us that everything leads back to Pepper!