Sleeve note

Ever heard of Leo Gorcey? Me neither. He was an actor, by all accounts. You may not remember him from such films as Crazy Over Horses, Feudin’ Fools, or my own favourite, Dig That Uranium. But in 1967 Leo Gorcey had something in common with Laurel and Hardy, Mae West, George Bernard Shaw, Tony Curtis, Karl Marx, Marlon Brando and Shirley Temple. His likeness was one of those chosen to decorate the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles’ and hence the world’s first concept album (the concept being ‘Let’s get wasted and not bother so much with the concept thing’). But his face was removed before the album went to the presses because Gorcey – get this – thought he should get paid. Now, it’s not as if Ringo and co. were unknowns at the time. This isn’t a story of unrecognised opportunity, like Decca’s legendary rejection of the self-same Beatles on the grounds that guitar music was on the way out. Gorcey couldn’t have known that Sgt Pepper’s would turn out to be probably the most famous and memorable album cover of all time, but … it was the Beatles, for God’s sake! We can only conclude that he wasn’t all that bothered about immortality. Sadly for him, that’s just what he’s earned. The modern sleeve notes for the album include a list of who’s who on the cover. Gorcey’s name is still there, trailed by a smirking asterisk. The footnote, ours to ponder forever and ever and ever, reads ‘Painted out because he requested a fee.’ They’ll still be laughing at him in two hundred years time, the poor bastard. There’s a moral here somewhere, I’m sure of it.

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