The satellite broadcast

I’m ready to sing for the world, George, if you can just give me the backing…
John Lennon
Our World

25 June was the day of the Our World broadcast. Most of the day was spent rehearsing with the BBC camera crew. As it was such an important day, George Martin ensured that The Beatles played along to their pre-recorded backing track (take 10, with additional overdubs); the vocals, bass, guitar solo, drums and orchestra were the only live elements.

We went around to EMI for the show. We’d done a lot of pre-recording, so we sang live to the backing track. We’d worked on it all with George Martin’s help, and it was a good day. We went in there early in the morning to rehearse with the cameras, and there was a bit orchestra – for all that stuff with ‘Greensleeves’ playing on the way out of the song. The band was asked to invite people, so we had people like Mick and Eric, and all our friends and wifelets.
Paul McCartney

It was unusual for The Beatles to allow cameras into the studio while they were working, although not unprecedented. Notably, the group had planned a televised special around the making of Sgt Pepper; although the programme never came to fruition, the orchestral overdubs for ‘A Day In The Life’ had been filmed on 10 February.

For Our World, it was decided that The Beatles, other than Ringo Starr, would perform on high stools in the studio, surrounded by friends sitting cross-legged on the floor. Friends and family in attendance included Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richard, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, Pattie Harrison, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Graham Nash and Hunter Davies.

I remember the recording, because we decided to get some people in who looked like the ‘love generation’. If you look closely at the floor, I know that Mick Jagger is there. But there’s also an Eric Clapton, I believe, in full psychedelic regalia and permed hair, sitting right there. It was good: the orchestra was there and it was played live. We rehearsed for a while, and then it was: ‘You’re on at twelve o’clock, lads.’ The man upstairs pointed his finger and that was that. We did it – one take.
George Harrison

Although the event had been rehearsed for much of the day prior to the 9.36pm (local time) live broadcast, nerves were running high on the day.

I was on camera for the broadcast. It was a bit of a panic because it was done in the big number one studio at EMI. The control room was then just at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t very large, and there was Geoff Emerick, the tape operator and myself in there. We had prepared a basic track of the recording for the television show, but we were going to do a lot live. There was a live orchestra, the singing was live, the audience certainly was, and we knew it was going to be a live television show. There was also a camera in the control room.

With about thirty seconds to go, there was a phone call. It was the producer of the show, saying: ‘I’m afraid I’ve lost all contact with the studio – you’re going to have to relay the instructions to them, because we’re going on air any moment now.’ I thought, ‘My God, if you’re going to make a fool of yourself, you might as well do it properly in front of 350 million people. At that point I just laughed.

George Martin

The broadcast lasted for just six minutes and 11 seconds, but it was a frantic affair for those in the studio – not helped by having to go on air earlier than expected.

We actually went on air about 40 seconds early. George and I were having a welcome shot of Scotch whisky when we got the word over the intercom. There was a big panic to hide the bottle and the glasses. We were shoving them under the mixing console!
Geoff Emerick
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The members of the orchestra wore formal evening dress, and the invited audience all wore the colourful clothes that were de rigeur in 1967. All of The Beatles’ guests sang in the song’s lengthy fade-out, and some even danced a conga around the studio.

George Martin’s orchestral arrangement, for which he was paid £15, contained elements from Bach’s Brandenburg concerto, ‘Greensleeves’, and Glenn Miller’s arrangement of ‘In The Mood’, in addition to the distinctive introduction of ‘La Marseillaise’. Lennon also ad-libbed parts of ‘She Loves You’.

In arranging it, we shoved ‘La Marseillaise’ on the front, and a whole string of stuff on the end. I fell into deep water over that. I’m afraid that amongst all the little bits and pieces I used in the play-out, which the boys didn’t know about, was a bit of ‘In The Mood’. Everyone thought ‘In The Mood’ was in the public domain, and it is – but the introduction isn’t. The introduction is an arrangement, and it was the introduction I took. That was a published work. EMI came to me and said: ‘You put this in the arrangement, so now you’ve got to indemnify us against any action that might be taken.’ I said, ‘You must be joking. I got fifteen pounds for that arrangement, that’s all.’ They saw the joke. I think they paid a fee to Keith Prowse, or whoever the publisher was, and I wrote the arrangements out. ‘Greensleeves’ was also there at half tempo, to weave in with a bit of Bach and the bit of ‘In The Mood’.
George Martin

The day after the Our World broadcast, Ringo Starr overdubbed a snare drum roll onto the introduction, and John Lennon re-recorded some vocals in the verses. The song was then remixed in preparation for the single release.

Chart success

Remarkably, The Beatles only decided to release ‘All You Need Is Love’ as a single on 24 June, the day before the Our World broadcast. It was issued in the UK on 7 July 1967, backed with ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’. Notably, it was the first time George Martin received a producer credit on a Beatles single.

The single inevitably became a worldwide smash hit. Five days after its UK release, ‘All You Need Is Love’ was at number one in the single chart, where it remained for four weeks.

In the US it was issued on 17 July. On 29 July it entered the top 40, spent a week at number one, and stayed in the charts for nine weeks. It also appeared on the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour, released in the US on 27 November 1967.

Previous song: ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’
Next album: The Beatles (White Album)