On This Day: All You Need is Love reaches number one

·3-min read

On Aug 19, 1967 The Beatles rally-cry for peace and love went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

All You Need is Love spent 11 weeks at number one and was later included on the album, Magical Mystery Tour.

It remains one of the band’s most beloved songs of all time for its simplicity, energetic repetitiveness and enduring message.

The song was performed for the first time on June 25, 1967 during Our World, the first live international satellite broadcast by the BBC and European Broadcasting Union which was watched by more than 350 million people worldwide.

 Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison pose for a photo in 1964.
The Beatles' All You Need is Love spent 11 weeks at number one. Source: Getty Images

“We were big enough to command an audience of that size, and it was for love,” Ringo Starr said of the broadcast.

“It was for love and bloody peace. It was a fabulous time. I even get excited now when I realise that’s what it was for: peace and love, people putting flowers in guns.”

The song became an anthem for 1967 and what was dubbed “the Summer of Love”, the height of the bohemian counterculture hippie movement.

More than 75,000 people gathered in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district, the epicentre of the movement, where free love ideology, rock and folk music and psychedelic drug use reigned supreme.

Although the song is credited to both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the song was written by Lennon alone.

The Beatles perform onstage in a still from their movie A Hard Day's Night.
All You Need Is Love became an anthem for 1967 and what was dubbed “the Summer of Love.” Source: Getty Images

“All You Need I Love' was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did the other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing She Loves You...mor silly little things at the end and we made those up on the spot,” McCartney told biographer Barry Miles.

"The chorus All you need is love is simple, but the verse is quite complex, in fact I never really understood it, the message is rather complex.”

The song embodied Lennon’s anti-war beliefs, which the band had previously been advised by their team to suppress during the on-going Vietnam War and Cold War.

“We went to America a few times and [Brian] Epstein always tried to waffle on at us about saying nothing about Vietnam,” Lennon said in a 1971 interview.

"So there came a time when George and I said: ‘Listen, when they ask next time, we’re going to say we don’t like that war and we think they should get right out’.

"That’s what we did. At that time this was a pretty radical thing to do, especially for the ‘Fab Four’. It was the first opportunity I personally took to wave the flag a bit.”

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