On this day in music history: February 13, 196…

On this day in music history: February 13, 1967 – “Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane” by The Beatles is released (the UK release is on February 17, 1967). The double A-sided single is the first release to emerge from the recording sessions that yields the landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The two songs based on childhood remembrances by Lennon and McCartney were originally slated to be a part of the album. The two songs are instead issued as a stand alone single, after Capitol Records in the US begins to press the band for a new release, not having issued any new Beatles records in over six months. In the US, “Penny Lane” hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 18, 1967, while “Strawberry Fields” peaks at number eight on April 1, 1967. In the UK, it is the first Beatles single and only one of two to be issued with a picture sleeve (“Let It Be” being the other) on their original release. The front features a newly photographed portrait of the band taken by famed French photographer Jean-Marie Périer. Another of Périer’s photos of The Beatles from the same photo session is later used for the US picture sleeve of “Hello Goodbye” / “I Am The Walrus”, later in 1967. The back of the sleeve features childhood photos of the band, with the photos, song titles and label logos cleverly inlaid like pictures in a family photo album. The single peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart behind Englebert Humperdinck’s “Release Me”. US and Canadian promotional copies of the single include an earlier mono mix of “Penny Lane” that includes a seven note trumpet coda at the end that is mixed out of all commercially released versions of the song, making the promo 45 a valuable and heavily sought after collector’s item. Both tracks make their LP debut on the US release of “Magical Mystery Tour” in November of 1967. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and “Penny Lane” is inducted in 2011, the first instance of two sides of a single receiving that honor individually. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its release, the UK version of the 45 is reissued in a limited edition pressing on Record Store Day in April of 2017. The single features new stereo remixes of both tracks by producer Giles Martin (son of original producer George Martin), as the first taste of the 50th anniversary Super Deluxe box set for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” issued in May of 2017.