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by Alan L. Chrisman
(This is part of a series of blogs Ive been doing on some of the groups and on some of the
perhaps lesser-known songwriters and players behind some of rocks classic artists and songs.
So far: Bob Seger, Long John Baldry, Tony Joe White, Harry Nilsson, Glen Campbell, Paul Revere
& The Raiders, Johnny Rivers, The Rascals, Rick Nelson, Del Shannon,Badfinger, Bob Marley,
Jeff Lynne was the brains behind Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and their many
hits in the 70s & 80s. But he is also one of rocks most respected producers,
having produced albums for the ex-Beatles, Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, Roy
Orbison, Dave Edmunds, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, etc.
Lynn was originally from Birmingham, England. He was in an early band, Idle
Race, which put out two albums in 69. But in 1970, he joined The Move, led by
Roy Wood. The Move were well respected and popular in England and known for
their theatrical performances, but were not known very much in America at the
time. They recorded 4 British albums: The Move, Shazam, Looking On and
Message from The Country and several great singles, I Can Hear The Grass
Grow, Flowers in The Rain, Brontosaurus, California Man and Do Ya,
from 1966-72.
Then Roy Wood and, now Jeff Lynn who joined The Move in 1970, had this idea to
combine rock and classical, which led to ELO. Wood left around that time to form
his own band, Wizard, which had some success in England. But Lynne carried on
with the original drummer, Bev Bevan, from The Move, and added Richard Tandy
on synthesizer and others on string instruments. Lynne, Beatles-influenced, said
he hoped to create the kind of sound used in John Lennons, I Am the Walrus.
ELOs first album, contained their first hybrid classical-rock hit, Roll Over
Beethoven, in 1972. They were to go on to have many successful: On the Third
Day (73), Eldorado (74), Face The Music (75), New World Record (76), double Lp
Out of The Blue (77), Discovery (79) and several more into the 80s. And off
these albums they would have several, especially in America, massively popular
hits, Evil Woman, Livin Thing, Strange Magic, Telephone Line, Mr. Blue
Sky, Hold on Tight, Dont Bring Me Down, and many more.
But in the mid-1980s, Jeff Lynne (who wrote the songs and was basically ELO),
disbanded them to concentrate on his other love, producing. In 1987, he
produced and co-wrote songs for George Harrisons, Cloud 9, and co-wrote his
This is Love. Then as part of the supergroup, Traveling Wilburys (Harrison,
Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Lynne), he co-produced with Harrison their
two classic albums. This led to Lynne producing Orbisons Mystery Girl in 88 and
co-producing Tom Pettys next two albums, Full Moon Fever and co-writing hits, I
Wont Back Down, Free Fallin, and Into The Great Wide Open (Learning to
Fly) in 1989 and 91. He also produced songs for Brian Wilson, Duane Eddy and
Randy Newman., and a posthumous album for Del Shannon, Rock On.
Lynne put out his first solo album, Armchair Theatre, with the single, Every Little
Thing, in 2001, including George Harrison and old ELO bandmate, Richard Tandy.
But it was when he was chosen to produce two left-over John Lennon songs,
Free As A Bird and Real Love, with the remaining Beatles for their Anthologies
in 95 and 96, that he finally got to work with all his long-time heroes, The
Beatles. He then produced one of Paul McCartneys best recent albums, Flaming
Pie, in 97.
In 2001, Lynne put out one more ELO album, Zoom, with guests George Harrison,
Ringo and Richard Tandy. And he produced George Harrisons excellent last
album, Brainwashed, before Harrison died in November, 2001 and produced the
live tribute CD, Concert for George, in 2003. He produced an album, Analogue
Man, for Joe Walsh in 2012 and Lynne released his second solo album, Long
Wave, in 2013. He also provided a song for the Hollywood film, American Hustle.
For the 50
anniversary of The Beatles coming to America Grammy Tribute, in
Feb, 2014, Lynne performed Something and Hey Bulldog. Its also been
announced that he is producing Bryan Adams new CD.
Lynne re-visited his hometown, Birmingham, England and received an award in
September-not bad for a Birmingham lad, who realized his dream of combining
rock and classical and getting to work with some of rocks biggest artists. Jeff
Lynne also has the distinction of being one of the few producers to work with The
Beatles, besides their long-time producer, George Martin, and legendary
producer, Phil Spector, and to become one of their close friends.
I was fortunate to see Jeff Lynne and ELO three times: The first for their 1st album
with Roll Over Beethoven in 1972. At that concert they did a version of the
original Move rocker, Do Ya, originally written for The Move. I remember they
also did a great cover of The Beatles,Daytripper too.
I next saw them in 80 in Montreal at the Man & His World, former Expo 67 site
for their album, Eldorado. It was a beautiful summer night, and the first time I
saw lasers used in a concert.
And again at the Montreal Forum in 77 for their double album, Out Of The Blue,
with their Flying Saucer stage. ELO always had a very theatrical part to their live
shows. They were always one of my favorite bands, besides The Beatles.
Above: The Move and ELOs classic
album, Eldorado with its Abbey Road-like production by Jeff Lynne
See ELO perform Cant Get It Out Of My Head from their 1974 Eldorado album:
ELOS version of DO YA, originally written by Jeff Lynne for The Move, 1971: