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Ole Miss Musings: The One and Only Billy Shears


“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Album Cover. Courtesy of Wikipiedia

The summer of 1967 (I cannot believe it’s been 50 years) was a transitional one in so many ways….especially music! The Beatles would release arguably the greatest album ever produced. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was a classic in so many ways. You could not go anywhere that summer without hearing one of its tracks.
As for this boomer, I was half way through my Ole Miss journey, working in Nashville that summer while humming the lyrics of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” And if I wasn’t thinking about the hidden meaning of those lyrics,  “A Day in the Life” was just as complex. 
The cover of the “Sgt. Pepper” album was chilling. The former Beatles were looking down at an apparent grave that contained one of 13 album clues suggesting that Paul had died in a car crash several years earlier. It was one of the greatest hoaxes ever orchestrated (no pun intended) that any individual or group could ever devise. The creativity and imagination of the four lads from Liverpool trumps anything we have seen in the entertainment industry before or since.
And so who was this mystery man?…Billy Shears who was introduced in the album’s intros? We may never really know, but there are several theories. The most accepted one being Billy was the stand in for Paul after his unfortunate (fictitious) car accident and tragic death. Other Beatle historians point to Billy being an alias for Ringo while others claim John was secretly “Billy” as declared during “Yellow Submarine.” 
Released June 1, 1967, “Sgt. Pepper” was the Beatles’ 8th studio album following other great recordings such as “Revolver.” Sgt. Pepper remained #1 on the US album charts for 15 weeks and was number one in the UK for 27 weeks. It was the top-selling album of the 1960’s and has sold 32 million copies to date.
The winner of four Grammy Awards, it was also named Album of the Year and was the first rock LP ever to receive this honor. “Sgt. Pepper” was an idea conceived by Paul allowing the Fab Four to experiment with new and different musical arrangements as Pepper was designed never to perform any of the tracks live. In 2003, the Library of Congress placed Sgt. Pepper in the National Recording Registry and that same year, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it as the #1 Greatest Album of All Time in its list of 500!
Other tracks on the album included “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “Getting Better”, “Fixing A Hole”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!”, “Within You, Without You”, “When I’m Sixty-Four”, “Lovely Rita”, “Good Morning, Good Morning”, and the Reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” 
Take a walk down Memory Lane this summer all you baby boomers and enjoy this classic album one more time. I guarantee you that you won’t hear anything comparable anywhere else! 


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
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