At the very peak of The Beatles' career, modern communications technology gave them the opportunity to spread the message of what would become known as the "Summer of Love" all around the globe. Our World was a worldwide satellite TV broadcast - the first-ever - on Sunday June 25th 1967, for which The Beatles were chosen to represent the United Kingdom by singing their specially composed song All You Need is Love.

Surrounded by their friends, the band performed to an audience of more than 200 million viewers (possibly as many as 400 million). They were supported by a 13-piece orchestra and their backing singers included Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Pattie Harrison, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richard, Graham Nash, Eric Clapton and Keith Moon. It was the highest point in the band's showbiz career… but it didn't last long.

All You Need is Love was a No.1 hit in the US, UK and around the world. And, in its way, it's a powerful statement of peace, understanding and tolerance - a call to wipe the slate clean in a world where most living adults had vivid recollections of at least one world war and understandably harboured longstanding grudges against their recent enemies.

But in another sense, All You Need is Love was thrown together at a time when the band was falling apart. It sounds like a natural descendent from the Sergeant Pepper sessions, but it lacked the fevered experimentation of those recordings and was never in fact part of a Beatles album project, although it did resurface soon after on the soundtrack LP of their movie misadventure Magical Mystery Tour and again on the soundtrack of Yellow Submarine.

Hearing this song 50 years later, it's so ubiquitous a part of pop music history that you might not really listen to it at all but simply let its over-familiarity wash over you. Like Warhol's Marilyn diptych, it's such an icon of that colourful period of modern history that we can't imagine a world without it.

At a time when the world's biggest pop band were seeking answers, the lyric seemed to provide the most simplistic answer possible. "It's easy," they say. "All you need is love".

The truth for The Beatles was a little more quotidian. In the following August, they met with considerable derision over their involvement with Indian Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who invited the band to be indoctrinated in his teachings at a conference in Bangor, Wales. George, who had come across the Maharishi during his Indian visit, was largely responsible for the introductions, but John became an avid convert. At the time, in public, it also seemed that Paul and Ringo were pinning their hopes on the wisdom of this bizarre Eastern prophet, but dissensions among The Beatles were already starting to show, and the Bangor trip was merely to exacerbate them.

It wasn't the end of The Beatles - they still had the White Album and Abbey Road ahead of them, not to mention the musical afterthought Let It Be - but this simple, ever-popular song inspired by global togetherness was the beginning of the end for John, Paul, George and Ringo.

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About the curator

After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which he has attended every year since 1992.