The song was written by Buck Ram, and first recorded by The Platters in 1954. The following year it was re-recorded and became a hit single, topping the US R&B chart for seven weeks, and reaching number five on the Billboard Top 100.
Starr covered the song at Lennon’s suggestion. The recording features Starr’s vocals over Lennon’s studio demo.
‘Only You (And You Alone)’, with the album track ‘Call Me’ on the b-side, was the lead single from Goodnight Vienna.
It was released in the USA on 11 November 1974, one week before the album. In the US it came out on the same day, 15 November.
The single topped the US Billboard Easy Listening chart and reached number six on the Hot 100. In the UK it was less successful, peaking at number 28 on the singles chart.
A commercial for Goodnight Vienna was shot at the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood, in which Starr was abducted by a flying saucer. The finished advertisement featured a voiceover dialogue by Starr and Lennon.
Immediately after shooting was complete for the advert, a promotional film for ‘Only You’ was made. Directed by Stanley Dorfman, it also featured the flying saucer on the Capitol tower, plus Starr miming to the song alongside Harry Nilsson, who was reasing the music paper Radio & Records.
The ‘Only You’ clip was shown on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops on 19 December 1974, its only outing in the UK.
The tape containing Lennon’s guide vocals were nearly lost. The multi-track tapes were discovered by producer Richard Perry just two days before John Lennon Anthology was due to have been mastered, and Yoko Ono oversaw the creation of a new mix just hours before the deadline.