Apparently, in February 1974, KQV commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America by holding an event called “Pepperland ’74.”
Through on-air contests, KQV handed out 1,400 masks of the Beatles’ faces as they appeared during the Sgt. Pepper’s era.
The masks functioned as entry tickets to one of the city’s most storied performance venues, the Syria Mosque. Once inside, participants got to hear Beatles music, win Beatles prizes, listen to a live band, and eat fish and chips washed down with — yup — Dr Pepper.
Of course, Sgt. Pepper’s wasn’t a decade old in 1974, so I’m not sure why the masks and the event theme were so strongly linked to it. Maybe “She Loves You ’74” just didn’t have the same ring. I guess the Cult of Sgt. Pepper was already ingrained in ’74, and the album was already accepted as the group’s high-water mark.
(Subsequent edit: I’ve since decided that Sgt. Pepper became the touchstone it did because (a) people liked to think of the Beatles as an integrated unit; and (b) Sgt. Pepper’s was the last time they all dressed up the same. They never established a single unified visual identity after that.)
While the event was probably about as much fun as you can have on a February night in Pittsburgh, the eyeless Beatles masks are distinctly unsettling. If you’ve ever wanted to imagine John Lennon as a pale, druggy zombie come to suck your brains out, you can see the pix here.