Throughout this summer, a look back 50 years at the Summer of Love in 1967.
Not that “The Summer of Love” needed a mantra or a slogan, but it got one anyway that had the entire world not just repeating, but singing it.
A colossal event was in the early planning stages the year before. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) envisioned taking advantage of new satellite technology to produce a TV program that could be seen around the globe. Even more challenging was the broadcast would be live.
“Our World” would be beamed worldwide on June 25, 1967, spanning five continents and nearly 20 countries (the number would shrink when Eastern bloc nations pulled out a week before the telecast). Each participating country would feature their own way of life and culture. No politicians allowed.
The United Kingdom wisely selected The Beatles to be in their spotlight. When The Beatles accepted the opportunity they had about a month to plan what they would compose and perform.
Paul McCartney suggested two of his already penned songs, “Your Mother Should Know” and “Hello, Goodbye.” Instead, The Beatles opted for a John Lennon original that had all the perfect characteristics. It was simple. It was direct. It was incapable of being misunderstood.
“This is an inspired song, because they wrote it for a worldwide program and they really wanted to give the world a message,” said Beatles manager Brian Epstein. “It could hardly have been a better message.”
On June 14, 1967, the band went against the rules established by the BBC and went into the studio to lay down a backing track. Abbey Road Studios were booked so they went to Olympic Sound Studios.
“We just put a track down. Because I knew the chords I played it on whatever it was, harpsichord,” John Lennon recounted in a 1980 interview. “(George Harrison) played a violin because we felt like doing it like that and Paul played a double bass. And they can’t play them, so we got some nice little noises coming out. It sounded like an orchestra, but it’s just them two playing the violin and that. So then we thought, ‘Ah, well, we’ll have some more orchestra around this little freaky orchestra that we’ve got.’ But there was no perception of how it sounded at the end until they did it that day, until the rehearsal. It still sounded a bit strange then.”
More components would be added ahead of time: More drumming from Ringo Starr, banjo from Lennon and piano from producer George Martin, and some vocals.
On the day of the big broadcast starting at just before 9PM local time, the Beatles and Martin went before the live cameras to record “All You Need is Love” with a gum-chewing John doing the lead vocal.
There was a hippie commune look and atmosphere, and as the song began to near its conclusion a conga line formed as video faded away.
This was to be their next single, but they weren’t satisfied. So they re-recorded John’s vocal and Ringo added a drum roll for the introduction that at first had a tambourine.
“All You Need Is Love” that had been seen by anywhere between 400 and 700 million viewers was released as a single on July 7.
On August 19 it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
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