When ‘Two Young Kids’ Took Charge of the Beatles’ Live Broadcast to the World
When the Beatles represented the United Kingdom during Our World, the world’s first live global TV linkup in 1967, a lot was at stake as they delivered “All You Need is Love,” a song specially written for the moment. An audience of 400 million people were watching, members of the Rolling Stones and the Who were in the studio, and the resulting recording was to be released on vinyl just days later.
But, as Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, the responsibility for making it all work out fell on the shoulders of “two young kids” – himself, aged and his even younger assistant Richard Lush.
“I was in a terrible state because this thing was going to go out live and we didn’t have the technology then – backups and God knows what else,” Emerick said. “[T]he record that actually goes out and the one you see them recording, everything’s live apart from, I think, just Ringo (Starr)’s drum. The only overdub I remember doing afterwards was Ringo’s snare roll at the beginning.
“The idea was, after the session, when we did that, we were going to mix it that night – by this time it was like half-past two in the morning. It was going to go down to the factory to be processed and it was going to be on the shops on the Thursday. But we decided to come in the next day, to just have a rest from it and just check it to make sure. And sure enough, it sounded great. We did the mix in half an hour, possibly, and that’s the one that went out."
The international agreement behind the Our World telecast was that everything had to be live; but for technological reasons it wasn’t possible to make every element of “All You Need is Love” take place in the moment, so some backing tracks had been recorded earlier. “As Richard, my assistant pointed out, I was like 21 and he was 19, and it was us two young kids really in charge of this,” he said. “I know we had backup -- technical staff if things went wrong; but Richard had to spool this tape back for the overlaying music of the opening. On the telecast you actually hear Richard spooling the tape back to cue it up, and we’re all waiting on Richard.”
Emerick couldn’t have known ahead of time how successful the moment was going to be, but he did have the presence of mind to make sure he and his team looked as if they meant business. “Before we went on air, a few seconds earlier we had a bottle of Scotch on the mixing console,” he recalled “We had to shove it under the console, so we [looked] hard at work!”
Behind the Scenes of ‘All You Need is Love’
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