UPDATE: Revelation (part 2 sneak preview) by YouKnowMyName231 is available again.
Cyril Connoly, the English writer and critic (and the butt of a Monty Python joke or two) said of Aleister Crowley “He bridges the gap between Oscar Wilde and Hitler…” I wonder if John Lennon had that quote in mind when he wanted all three of them on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Hitler had to be taken out, but Oscar Wilde remained.
I don't know of any interviews where the Beatles talked about Aleister Crowley, but we find his picture at least once (see under title of this post), and maybe twice on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The second occurrence, up for debate, is on the right side, partially obscured between Shirley Temple (who appears on the cover three times) and Diana Dors. The credits on the CD simply list the individual as "Legionnaire." The cap he is wearing reads RAOB (visible if you have the 12x12 cover of the vinyl L.P. and a magnifying glass), which stands for Royal Antediluvian Order of the Buffalo.
The organization, believed to have Masonic origins, used an initiation ritual that included the singing of:
Bloody-head and raw-bones!
Bloody-head and raw-bones’
Be not perplex’d’
This is the text,
Bloody-head and raw-bones!
If this RAOB member is Crowley, his location is significant. As I indicated in a previous post, Jarvtronics of the "Nothing Is Real" discussion group pointed out the meaningful play on words of Aleister Crowley located at the "Temple Do(o)rs." Iamaphoney must have liked this discovery because soon after Jarv's post on NIR, this second Crowley connection became a central feature of Rotten Apple 44.
But Crowley connects to another individual on the Sgt. Pepper cover. He had a well documented affair (otherwise known as an association for the purpose of engaging in Sex Magick rituals) with English Poet Victor Neuburg. These sex rituals became the basis for the Choronzon Club. [Am I the only one who hears the word "Choronzon" in the gibberish section of the song "Sun King"?]. Neuburg did not make the cover, but his protégé Dylan Thomas did.
This Crowley-Neuburg-Thomas connection is exploited in the 2004 novel "Sybarite among the Shadows," by Richard McNeff. I have not read the novel, but I have read the short story on which it is based. In that short story, another historical character emerges--Aldous Huxley.
In fact, Huxley takes the role of the rational voice among the chaos of self indulgence and intoxication as the three men discuss spirituality, sex, drugs and Hitler. One particular passage caught my eye. This will be more understandable if you are familiar with the Zen riddle, "What is the Sound of the Single Hand?":
Huxley even launched into a lecture on Tao exercises, which Crowley brought to an abrupt halt by asking if one-hand clap was not a form of masturbationary syphilis. We all laughed uproariously, like schoolboys over a dirty joke. Meanwhile, I had administered the mescaline.
That certainly brings a whole new meaning to the unreleased Paul McCartney instrumental "One Hand Clapping."
As we turn back to the cover of Sgt. Pepper, an interesting pattern emerges. If we draw a straight line from Aleister Crowley's nose to John Lennon's nose, it crosses through Aldous Huxley, Dylan Thomas, and Oscar Wilde. Hmm, I wonder if Tom Mix's hat is covering the face of Adolf Hitler...*
* According to Cover Designer Peter Blake, Hitler actually is on the cover, but he is hidden behind the four Beatles. See Contact Music article.
It seems to me that there are many things hidden on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."