The Beatles were hardly out of the news as a group, especially at the height of their fame in the 1960s. To hear that they were on the front cover of a magazine hardly seems like news. But when it's Time Magazine, being the cover subject takes on a much greater significance.
Founded in 1923 Time Magazine became one of the most important news and current affairs magazines in the world. The lists of those who were featured on its cover are very much the great and the good of the world. Presidents, heads of state, politicians all figured heavily. In fact, former US President Richard Nixon still holds the record for the most cover appearances at 55 times.
Musicians featured much less often, it was also a single-person-only cover through until the late 1960s. So when The Beatles were featured on the cover of Time Magazine on September 22, 1967, it was quite momentous, even by their amazing standards. This was the only time they appeared on the cover as a group. Though both John Lennon and George Harrison later appeared individually when each passed away.
The Beatles leading the way on Time Magazine
The 1967 magazine cover introduced an article about the impact of the band's classic album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The iconic album had been released four months earlier and was well on its way to being a huge hit. Musically it represented a huge step change for The Beatles.
At that point the album and The Beatles were also seen by the media as hugely significant in youth culture terms. With the group seen very much as leaders in that respect and having the ear of the world for more than just their music.
"When The Beatles talk—about drugs, the war in Viet Nam, religion—millions listen, and this is a new situation in the pop music world."- Time Magazine, September 1967
That goes a long way to explain why a four piece popular beat combo transformed from their early days in The Cavern in Liverpool made it to the status of the cover of Time Magazine. They were leading the way as musicians with a voice and opinions, now being heard across the world. That would continue for years to come.