This song was a major hit for The Hollies in early 1974, reaching number two in the U.K.. In the summer of 1974, the song reached number six in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100chart and number three on the Adult Contemporary chart. In Canada, the song peaked at number five on the RPM Magazine charts. The audio engineering for "The Air That I Breathe" was done by Alan Parsons.
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- The song was first covered by Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers for his 1973 album Star Spangled Springer.
- Also covered by Olivia Newton-John in 1975 on the album Have You Never Been Mellow.
- Also recorded by The Shadows in 1975 for their album Specs Appeal but released as a B-side on a single. The title appeared on the CD, as bonus track, on Tasty plus as well on the Magic Records CD Specs Appeal / Tasty
- Hank Williams Jr. covered this song on his 1983 album, Man of Steel.
- Rex Allen, Jr. recorded a cover version in 1983, releasing his version for the country music market. Allen's version peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in December 1983.
- Julio Iglesias offered his version of the song on 1984's 1100 Bel Air Place. The Beach Boys sang the background harmonies on this version.
- Judy Collins recorded a cover version in her 1990 album Fires of Eden
- In the film version of The Little Rascals, released in 1994, the character of Alfalfa sings the song during a contest for his sweetheart, Darla.
- Barry Manilow covered the song on his 1996 album, Summer of '78
- Steven Houghton covered the song on his 1997 self-titled album.
- k.d. lang covered the track on her 1997 album Drag.
- The song was also covered by Simply Red in 1998 on the album Blue.
- Jorge González, former leader of the Chilean band Los Prisioneros, covered it as Necesito poder respirar (Spanish for "I need to be able to breathe") on his 1999 album Mi destino.
- The Mavericks covered the song on their self-titled 2003 album. Their version peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
- This song was covered by the group Semisonic and appears on the CD single for "Singing In My Sleep." It appears as "Air That I Breathe."
- This song was covered by the Brazilian country group Chitãozinho & Xororó with Portuguese lyrics under the title "É Assim Que Eu Te Amo" (translated as "This is how I love you").
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead shares writing credits with Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood on "Creep" due to similarities between that song and "The Air That I Breathe."
- Steve Wynn covers the song on his 1999 album Pick Of The Litter.