Happy Beatles Day! Today, we’re looking back on a time when a piece of Canada played a role in the Beatles’ iconography.
It’s easy to get lost in the art for the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: the lush plants, the Hollywood stars, the fluorescent outfits.
But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice a Canadian connection on the cover.
On Paul McCartney’s blue uniform, the Beatle is sporting an OPP badge on his left arm (just below his yellow shoulder pad.)
You can catch the left side of the crest close to Paul’s left elbow.
This group shot makes it much more visibile.
Beatles historian and author Piers Hemmingsen told the Toronto Star that Canadians were fans of the band much earlier than our US counterparts. The Canadian fan club was brought in because America didn’t have one yet, says Hemmingsen.
Here’s what the Toronto Star says on how the badges were obtained:
“The research found that on a visit to Toronto in 1964, four OPP arm badges were presented as a ‘unique gift of appreciation’ by an OPP Corporal at Malton Airport to one of the three of The Beatles on Tues. Sept. 28. They were waiting to board their chartered plane bound for Montreal.”
“George was not feeling well that day and chose to board the plane early as the other 3 Beatles stood in the sunshine on the tarmac waving to fans (who had skipped school that day) surrounded by their OPP security detail. It is likely that the four badges were received by one Beatle (Paul, John or Ringo), and simply stuffed in a bag.
“The badge must have been lying around on Paul’s bureau for over two years before it beckoned him for use in early 1967.”
So there you have it! Did you ever notice this Ontario emblem on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s? Let us know in the comments below.