When Prince First Heard The Beatles

The Beatles and Prince are both iconic but they made very different music — or did they? Some believe Prince based his album Around the World in a Day on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band after listening to the Fab Four for the first time as an adult. Is this rumor true? Here’s a look at what a member of the Revolution and Prince himself had to say.

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The first Beatles song Prince ever heard was very strange

In an interview with Diffuser.fm, Bobby Z. of the Revolution discussed the time he played Sgt. Pepper on Prince’s tour bus and the Purple one heard the Fab Four for the first time. Prince heard the song “Good Morning, Good Morning.” The avant-garde song features animal sounds and snorts.

“He said, ‘What’s that?’” Z. recalled. “We said, ‘That’s Sgt. Pepper.’ He went, ‘The Beatles. Ehhh? Really?’ You know, it was just like that. He walked in [and we were like] ‘No, no, no, no, not this song. Start it over.” And, of course, he didn’t have the patience, but I know he went back and listened to that song and realized that it was much better. Not better, but ‘Good Morning Good Morning,’ that’s just a novelty track on an amazing album.” Z. felt this moment had significant impact on the Purple One.

“But that moment, I think he realized that The Beatles were more than he thought,” Z. recalled. “He just kind of swallowed them up.” Z. believed Prince listened to the Fab Four’s psychedelic output without bothering to listen to their earlier albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver. He added “I’m assuming that by swallowing up Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper that Around the World in a Day is definitely influenced by it.” However, acknowledged Prince wouldn’t like him assuming so much. 

What Prince said about The Beatles and ‘Around the World in a Day’

What did Prince himself have to say about The Beatles’ influence on Around the World in a Day — or the lack thereof? He told Rolling Stone the Fab Four did not inspire the album. “What they say is that The Beatles are the influence. The influence wasn’t The Beatles. They were great for what they did, but I don’t know how that would hang today.”

Around the World in a Day isn’t just a psychedelic on a musical level — it had busy, colorful cover art which recalls the Sgt. Pepper cover. Despite this, Prince said the Sgt. Pepper cover did not inspire the cover of his album. Instead, he said Around the World in a Day had oddball cover art because he didn’t want the album’s cover to be another picture of him. After all, some of his previous albums like Purple Rain and Dirty Mind featured images of the Purple One. 

How the public reacted to the two albums

Regardless of whether Sgt. Pepper truly influenced Around the World in a Day, the two albums are still associated with each other. This raises the question: Which album was more popular? Sgt. Pepper reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That’s a fitting position for an album often considered the best album ever. Around the World in a Day reached the peak of the Billboard 200 as well. Although Sgt. Pepper did not inspire Around the World in a Day, the public embraced both albums.

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