Co-written and first recorded by Albert Hammond (1972).
Also recorded by Phil Everly (1973).
Hit versions by The Hollies (US #6/MOR #3/UK #2/CAN #5/AUS #2/NZ #1 1974), Simply Red (UK #6 1998), The Mavericks (C&W #59).
“‘The Air That I Breathe’ was written by the songwriting team of Albert Hammond (‘When I Need You‘) and Mike Hazlewood shortly after they moved to Los Angeles. Hammond was the first to record this – it appeared on his 1972 album It Never Rains In Southern California.
“Phil Everly (‘When Will I Be Loved‘) was the first to cover the song, in 1973, for his first solo album, Star Spangled Springer.
“The first cover to chart, and the most successful arrangement to chart, was recorded by The Hollies in 1974. It became the group’s last Top-10 hit in the US. Trivia: The audio engineering for The Hollies’ recording was done by Alan Parsons (The Beatles, Alan Parsons Project).
“In 1998, this was a UK #6 hit for Simply Red. In the US, the Mavericks covered the song on their self-titled 2003 album. Their version peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
“In the 1990s, Radiohead recycled the chord progression of ‘The Air That I Breathe’ on their song ‘Creep’. The group co-credited the track to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood – but only after getting sued.”
Phil Everly, “The Air That I Breathe” (1973):
The Hollies, “The Air That I Breathe” (1974):
Simply Red, “The Air That I Breathe” (1998):
The Mavericks, “The Air That I Breathe” (2003):
Radiohead, “Creep” (1993):