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The Beatles "All You Need Is Love" Global Satellite Broadcast

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Fifty three years ago, on May on 18th, 1967, the Beatles signed a contract to appear as Britain's representatives on Our World, which was to be broadcast live internationally, via satellite, on June 25th. The Beatles were asked to provide a song with a message that could be easily understood by everyone, and using "basic English" terms. The band undertook the assignment at a time when they were considering making a television special, Magical Mystery Tour, and working on songs for the animated film Yellow Submarine, for which they were contractually obliged to United Artists to supply four new recordings. "John Lennon's All You Need Is Love" was selected for Our World for its contemporary social significance over the Paul McCartney-written "Your Mother Should Know". The song is credited to Lennon-McCartney. In a statement to Melody Maker magazine, Brian Epstein, the band's manager, said of "All You Need Is Love": "It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message. The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." Here is a clip with some background on the global satellite event:

The Our World broadcast took place in the wake of the Arab–Israeli Six-Day War and, for the Beatles, amid the public furore caused by McCartney's admission that he had taken LSD. On June 25th, the live transmission cut to EMI Studios at 8:54 pm London time, about 40 seconds earlier than expected. Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick were drinking scotch whisky to calm their nerves for the task of mixing the audio for a live worldwide broadcast, and had to scramble the bottle and glasses beneath the mixing desk when they were told they were about to go on air.

The Beatles (except for Starr, behind his drum kit) were seated on high stools, accompanied by a thirteen-piece orchestra. The band were surrounded by friends and acquaintances seated on the floor, who sang along with the refrain during the fade-out. These guests included Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, Pattie Boyd (Harrison's wife), and Mike McGear and Jane Asher (McCartney's brother and girlfriend, respectively). The studio setting was designed to reflect the communal aspect of the occasion while also demonstrating the position of influence that the Beatles held among their peers, particularly following the release of Sgt. Pepper. Many of the invitations were extended through Beatles aides Mal Evans and Tony Bramwell, who visited various London nightclubs the night before the broadcast. An estimated worldwide audience of 350 million watched The Beatles perform 'All You Need Is Love'. Here is the official live performance of the event:

This clip about the story behind the song gives more depth and background on how the song influenced the world:

Lennon later attributed the song's simple lyrical statements to his liking of slogans and television advertising. He likened the song to a propaganda piece, adding: "I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change." Author Mark Hertsgaard views it as the Beatles' "most political song yet" up to 1967 and the origins of Lennon's posthumous standing as a "humanitarian hero". The song's advocacy of the all-importance of love followed Lennon's introduction of the idea in his lyrics to "The Word" in 1965 and George Harrison's declaration in "Within You Without You", from the band's recently released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, that "With our love, we could save the world".

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