It was early June 1967 during a Beatles recording session, Paul McCartney casually asked John Lennon how it was going with that new song he was to write for an upcoming TV broadcast. Paul reminded him that it was only two weeks away. John said, 'Oh god is it that close? I better write something'. That something would turn out to be the anthem of a generation; All You Need Is Love.
It was to be the first worldwide television satellite hook up. On June 25th, 1967 newly orbiting satellites would link and connect television networks from 26 countries. John Lennon remembered.
As George Harrison also recalled.
The Beatles would represent England while they played John’s new song for 500 million people around the world.
John loved slogans and the power they had to unite people, and his simple song about love was perfect for it’s time, because 1967 was being called the Summer Of Love.
Since Studio 1 at Abbey Road was being readied for the broadcast, the Beatles would have to record the rhythm track at a different location, Olympic Studios. Back at Abbey Road, backing vocals would then be overdubbed. Here is a clip from that vocal session. Note that the orchestra has not been added yet.
On the evening of the broadcast, the backing track would be played into their headphones. However, John’s lead vocal, Paul’s bass, George’s guitar solo, plus the full orchestra, would be performed live. The pressure of the decision to perform those parts live mounted on the evening of the 25th as zero hour approached. John was chain smoking and chugging milk, being terrified of forgetting the lyrics. George, often not confident of his guitar playing was worried about making a mistake on the solo. To add the drama, only seconds before the broadcast, the BBC video truck lost communication with the studio and George Martin had to relay the director’s instructions to the studio.
As would happen, John did flub the lyrics in the second verse. This is the reason the video cuts to the audience during that section. The lyric was later fixed in the studio. George also hits a clunker at the end of his solo which is still somewhat audible on the final master.
But the rest was flawless. All in a single unforgettable take. And the powerful simple message went out to the world.
The single was released two weeks later and became a worldwide #1 hit.