28 Sep 1968: The Beatles “Hey Jude” Hits Number One in the US
On this day in 1968, The Beatles had their biggest hit reach number one in the US
The song, “Hey Jude” is not only their biggest hits but also their best-selling song, as well as the best-selling song of the entire 1960’s. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to McCartney-Lennon, “Hey Jude” evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song McCartney wrote to comfort Lennon’s son, Julian.
“Hey Jude” was released in August 1968 and came as the first single from Beatles’ label Apple Records. It reached number one in the US a month later, and began a nine-week stretch at the top of the charts, the longest for any Beatle’s single, simultaneously holding a sixteen week run in the UK. The track also broke records as the longest single to ever top the British charts, with an extensive runtime of over seven minutes.
The track was recorded at Trident Studios, London, in July/August of 1968, and the group reportedly had multiple heated disagreements over parts of the song, but with the help of multiple producers, including George Martin, the song was completed on good terms. Once the single was pressed, it was launched alongside three other singles from the label in an event they named “National Apple Week”. Gift-wrapped packs of the records were delivered to the Royal family and the prime minister. “Hey Jude” went on to become the biggest-selling debut release for a record label ever, and was certified four times platinum in 1999, having sold over four million units in the US and eight million units worldwide.
“Hey Jude” is acclaimed by Beatles’ fans and critics alike and has earned numerous accolades, including number eight in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time list. John Lennon himself was full of rare praise for McCartney’s writing, calling it one of his “masterpieces”.