On June 25, three weeks after the release of Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles represented the UK in Our World, the first live, international satellite TV hook-up. An estimated four hundred million people watched them perform “All You Need Is Love,” dressed in designer hippie chic, surrounded by a studio orchestra and a crowd of friends, also in psychedelic duds, including a visibly humbled Mick Jagger. Written hastily after weeks of procrastination, the song’s simple words and universal message were perfect for the occasion and perfectly defined the moment.
Released in mid-July, “All You Need Is Love,” was number one a month later. The song ascended the charts while “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” was enjoying a four-week stint in the top five. Performed by Scott McKenzie and written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas to promote the Monterey Festival, the song became an international hit and is credited with fueling the migration of one hundred thousand “flower children” to San Francisco. The global siblinghood of Beatle fans who watched the Beatles on Our World couldn’t have missed the conspicuous red flower in Paul’s hair—a shout out to hippies everywhere.
In its July 7 cover story, “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture,” Time magazine described these “internal émigrés” as “young and generally thoughtful Americans who are unable to reconcile themselves to the stated values and implicit contradictions of contemporary Western society” and are seeking “individual liberation through means as various as drug use, total withdrawal from the economy and the quest for individual identity.”
The article, significant in that it framed America’s perception of the youth movement while also fueling it, observed, “The cult is a growing phenomenon that has not yet reached its peak—and may not do so for years to come.” According to Time, “the most striking thing about the hippie phenomenon is the way it has touched the imagination of the straight’ society,” and that “hippie slang has already entered common usage and spiced up American humor.”
As for the movement’s leaders, readers are told that, “Except for a few spiritual gurus and swamis, the hippie movement is leaderless and loose.” Yet, the in-depth article cites the Beatles as “the major tastemakers in hippiedom,” mentioning the new “psychedelic” album, and reminding the nation that “Beatle Paul McCartney admits to taking acid trips.”