All You Need Is Love (1977)

All You Need Is Love (1977)

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All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music is the name of a 17-part television documentary series on the history of modern pop music directed by Tony Palmer, originally broadcast worldwide between 1976 and 1980. The series covers some of the many different genres that have fallen under the "pop" label between the mid-19th century and 1976, including folk, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville and music hall, musical theatre, country, swing, jazz, blues, R&B, rock 'n' roll and others.

All You Need Is Love was born out of the reaction to his 1968 Omnibus episode on popular music called All My Loving which presented the music of the 1960s with no reference to the musical forms that preceded it. Around 1973, Palmer conceived of a 16-part documentary about American popular music which, after considerable shopping around, he convinced Bernard Delfont of EMI to bankroll. He proceeded to film over 300 interviews in approximately one million feet of film and was given access to archival footage of the same length. Instead of writing a script, he enlisted the help of a dozen or so subject matter experts who wrote 2000-word essays that became the narration for each part.

John Lennon was a friend and mentor to Palmer during the production of the series, and its title is taken from the Lennon-penned 1967 Beatles song, "All You Need Is Love". Although punk rock had entered the pop music scene while the series was being constructed, Palmer was refused the funding and time to include the genre in All You Need Is Love.


The fifteen-hour-long documentary features interviews and performances (both archived and original footage) involving such notable acts as Bing CrosbyBo DiddleyJerry Lee LewisElvis PresleyThe BeatlesBob DylanThe ByrdsLeonard CohenIke & Tina Turnerand many others.

The series features a rare interview with the notoriously reclusive 1960s record producer Phil Spector. During his segment, a visibly intoxicated Spector performs an impromptu version of "Then I Kissed Her" solo and acoustic in his mansion home, a song which he originally wrote and produced for The Crystals in 1963. Palmer would later reveal that he had been coaxed into playing Russian roulette with Spector during the course of the evening.

The series features the only interview ever given by the mother of Beatles manager Brian Epstein. A tour of Harlem is given by John Hammond, the record executive who was instrumental in furthering the careers of Billie HolidayCount Basie, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and countless others. Other musical figures featured include Rudi BleshLiberaceEubie Blake, and Charles Aznavour.


  1. God's Children: The Beginnings
  2. I Can Hypnotise 'Dis Nation: Ragtime
  3. Jungle Music: Jazz
  4. Who's That Comin?: Blues
  5. Rude Songs: Vaudeville & Music Hall
  6. Always Chasing Rainbows: Tin Pan Alley
  7. Diamonds as Big as the Ritz: The Musical
  8. Swing That Music!: Swing
  9. Good Times: Rhythym and Blues
  10. Making Moonshine: Country Music 
  11. Go Down, Moses!: Songs of War and Protest
  12. Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll: Rock and Roll
  13. Mighty Good: The Beatles
  14. All Along the Watchtower: Sour Rock
  15. Whatever Gets You Through the Night: Glitter Rock
  16. Imagine: New Directions