Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - 2018

Iconic ’60s Cover Gets New Life in Rothacker Painting

Rich Merriman stands besides 5' painting of Sgt. Peppers.
His portrait is included in the NEW work by George Rothacker.
After 5 months of research and painting, Delaware County artist George Rothacker has completed a 5' x 5' tribute painting of the iconic cover for the 1967 Beatles' album, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

The idea of the painting was conceived by the artist's friend, Richardson T. Merriman, Chairman of Pennsylvania Trust Company, who has been a fan of the world famous foursome since they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. According to Rich, "They were always the greatest of the great rock groups of the era, and their music will last forever, most especially the Sgt. Peppers album that took rock music further than any album then or since.”

The idea developed from a lunch meeting between Rich and George in a discussion about the Rock Legends series to portraits the artist was in the process of painting. Paintings included stars such as John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Freddie Mercury and Bruce Springsteen as well as 7 other icons of the genre.

George explained, “The aspect that intrigued me most about the Sgt. Peppers projects was the nearly
60 portraits that comprised the background of the cover. It featured writers Dylan Thomas, George Bernard Shaw and William Burroughs, artists, illustrators and illustrations like one of a a Vargas girl, actors such as Tony Curtis and W.C. Fields, and comedians Laurel and Hardy and Lenny Bruce, as well a wax figures of boxer Sonny Liston and the blonde bombshell, Diana Dors …each of whom was gleaned from a list personally compiled by Paul, George, John and Ringo.

Detail of painting showing Dylan Thomas, Marlon Brando,
Tom Mix, wax figures of the Fabulous Four and others.
“The problem with blowing a 12" cover to 60" was that many of the images on the album were created from hand colored xerox copies or worse, with some portraits were partially hidden, or eliminated in retouching during the print preparation process and the painting would look sketchy and incomplete from just copying the entire cover.“

Before beginning the painting, George researched each portrait and found a similar or more complete photo or piece of artwork of each person, con verging it into a style that would allow all of the portraits and those from the album to work together as a unit and still maintain the integrity of the original cover.

“In my research I uncovered some flaws in the original, and two omissions,” said George. “The comedian , Leo Gorcey, who starred with Huntz Hall in the Dead End Kids and Bowery Bowery Boys films, was eliminated because he wanted to be paid for his inclusion, and I added Mr. Merriman into the space intended for Gorcey. Muhatma Ghandi was also eliminated, my guess being that a palm leaf stretched across his face in the original photograph and it was easier to remove him than remove the leaf from his face.”

The painting will be on tour and can be viewed at Pennsylvania Trust (by appointment) until May 1, 2018.