incredible 37 years since their formation, the music of
the Electric Light Orchestra and songs of ELO leader Jeff
Lynne are now more popular than ever.
recognition of a career full of memorable hit singles and
albums, inspired songwriting and innovative production,
James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers
presented Jeff Lynne with Q magazine's prestigious
"Q Icon Award" on 30 October 2006 in London.
admiration and respect for the Birmingham-born singer-songwriter,
producer and multi-instrumentalist, Bradfield explained
that Lynne's music had "
been pure genius to me
" - and
it seems everyone agrees! ELO songs play constantly
on radio and TV, in movies and as samples in chart-toppers
by acts such as the Pussycat Dolls. Whether
it's seeing the crème de la crème of
the worlds' models cavort to 'Mr.
Blue Sky' in the popular Marks & Spencer
ad, feeling your ears pinned back by the power chords
of 'Do Ya' for Monster.com
or catching an episode of award-winning BBC TV
drama Doctor Who full of ELO music, a whole
new generation of fans are discovering the magic of
Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra.
also celebrated the start of the ELO Reissue Series,
a major upgrade of the band's classic albums. Produced
under the full supervision of Jeff Lynne and digitally
remastered from the original analogue master tapes,
'On The Third Day', 'Face
The Music', and 'A New
World Record' (featuring the all-time No.1
track 'Livin' Thing')
joined new editions of 'No Answer'
and 'ELO II' released
earlier in the USA. Each definitive edition includes
a wealth of bonus material, previously unreleased
tracks, full-colour booklets packed with rare photos
and in-depth liner-notes from both Lynne and ELO archivist
is the 30th anniversary of ELO's most famous album 'Out
of the Blue' and SonyBMG/Epic Records will
release a definitive edition remaster with 3 previously
unreleased bonus tracks (including new single 'Latitude
88 North') during February. A Limited Collector's
Edition in hardback book format adds a 24-page deluxe
colour booklet with commentary by Lynne, in-depth sleeve
notes, previously unseen photos and a push-out-and-build
ELO space station!
ELO's last album of the 20th Century, 'Balance
Of Power', reaches its 21st birthday and also celebrates
in February with an expanded remastered edition that includes
7 bonus tracks (5 previously unreleased).
thrived under the guidance of Lynne, recording twelve original
studio albums and releasing twenty-eight hit singles in
the UK alone. At their peak between 1974 and 1981, ELO amassed
a string of nine consecutive gold, platinum and multi-platinum
albums. The band were one of the biggest arena and stadium
draws during the seventies and early eighties, with spectacular
shows including massive flying saucer stage sets and vibrant
light and laser displays.
Before all the hit albums, singles and live extravaganzas,
ELO began from much humbler beginnings - as an experimental
offshoot of sixties hit English band The Move. Legendary
singer-songwriter Roy Wood had the initial idea for
an Electric Light Orchestra during Tony Visconti's
orchestral arrangements for his early Move songs such as
'Cherry Blossom Clinic', 'Mist
On A Monday Morning', and 'Flowers
In The Rain' but it was Jeff Lynne who composed '10538
Overture', a planned Move b-side that became the
first ELO song on 12 July 1970. According to Lynne, '10538
Overture' was "the very birth of
the realisation of the sound".
- Live on stage, 2001.
joins the Move
Bev Bevan, Rick Price, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood.
copyright Move Productions)
a single from ELO's critically acclaimed eponymous debut album (retitled
'No Answer' in America) it reached
no.9 in the UK during August 1972, but within a week of its release,
Wood had dramatically left the group to form Wizzard and
the beginnings of a critically acclaimed solo career.
at the Banqueting House, London England
Bev Bevan, Roy Wood & Jeff Lynne.
copyright EMI Records)
under Lynne's leadership, the new ELO made a triumphant debut at
the 1972 Reading Festival. Their inspired show-stopping, 5th Symphony-quoting
cover of Chuck Berry's 'Roll Over Beethoven'
fast became ELO's theme song and a top ten UK hit single
in January 1973. The song also laid valuable groundwork in the USA,
where it became an FM radio favourite. An extended version on second
LP 'ELO 2' helped the album into the
UK charts but the next single, released as the band returned from
their debut American tour in September 1973, was a radical departure.
New World Rising...
Jeff Lynne and the 'new' ELO debut at the Reading Festival,
copyright Fin Costello/Redferns)
Bev Bevan, 1972
copyright Alan Johnson)
ELO getting ready to perform "Roll Over Beethoven"
on Top Of The Pops, 1973
Wilf Gibson, Richard Tandy, Mike De Albuquerque , Bev Bevan.
Front L-R: Mike
Edwards, Jeff Lynne and Colin Walker.
copyright Sony Music)
Lennon commented live on a New York radio show how much he liked
'Showdown' and ELO (dubbing them "son
of Beatles") - and so did the record-buying public.
The track was the first Jeff Lynne-penned song to achieve chart
success in both the UK and USA. 'Ma-Ma-Ma
Belle', probably the heaviest piece of music ELO ever recorded,
followed as a single and featured an uncredited Marc Bolan
playing twin-lead guitar with Lynne. 'On The
Third Day', the album from which the single was taken, achieved
a silver sales award in America and was the beginning of the group's
successes in that country.
- A Symphony By The Electric Light Orchestra' was
ELO's first concept album and collaboration with arranger Louis
Clark and saw the band augmented by a full choir and orchestra
instead of overdubbing their usual two cellos and violin. Taking
Dorothy's ruby slippers and wicked witch album cover theme to their
hearts, many of ELO's burgeoning American fanbase began arriving
at concerts dressed as their favourite Wizard Of Oz character. It
was this dedication that helped propel Eldorado to gold status,
followed by their first-ever top ten USA single, 'Can't
Get It Out Of My Head'.
Jeff Lynne & Bev Bevan
Plummer / SonyBMG)
with lacklustre album sales, sporadic single chart successes and
unreceptive UK audiences outside of home city Birmingham and critically-aware
London, ELO focused their touring strategy on the USA. Lengthy and
exhausting tours of America ensured each subsequent ELO release
sold more than its predecessor. The excitement of "the
English guys with the big fiddles" conquering America
can be heard on the excellent live album 'The
Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)'.
shows in 76 days!
performing live 1976
Mik Kaminski, Melvyn Gale, Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt, Jeff
Lynne, Hugh McDowell and
copyright Epic Records)
Facing The Music
L-R (from top): Hugh McDowell, Bev
Bevan, Jeff Lynne, Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski, Melvyn
Gale and Richard Tandy
(Photo copyright Sony/BMG)
gave Lynne his first worldwide smash with the single 'Evil
Woman', and at 6 minutes, the fastest song he ever wrote.
The album became ELO's first platinum disc in the USA but follow
up single 'Nightrider' was ignored in the UK, while 'Strange
Magic' was only a minor hit. ELO, now comprising Lynne, co-founder
drummer Bev Bevan, keyboardist Richard Tandy, Kelly
Groucutt on bass guitar, violinist Mik Kaminski and cellists
Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale, then embarked on their
biggest and most ambitious tour of America, playing a gruelling
68 shows in 76 days. By the end of the tour, the entire group were
suffering from exhaustion, barely able to celebrate their gold award
for 'Strange Magic' or the news they were now firmly established
as one of the USA's top-selling bands.
Lynne, Bev Bevan, Hugh
Gale, Richard Tandy and
(Photo copyright Moshe Brakha)
finally achieved success in their home country in December 1976
with the Top 5 arrival of 'Livin' Thing'.
The haunting love song proved to be their most popular single to
date and helped pave the way for 'A New World
Record', arguably ELO's most consistent album. Though it
achieved a Top 10 chart placing and gold sales status in the UK,
in the USA it exceeded all expectations and became the band's first
double platinum disc. 'Rockaria!' and
were huge single hits worldwide while a new ELO version of
Lynne's Move composition 'Do Ya' was
released in America and Europe and became a hit for the second time.
serious pressure to surpass his already considerable achievements,
Lynne (armed with guitars, amp and piano) locked himself away in
a Swiss mountain chalet to plan his masterpiece, 'Out
Of The Blue': "The first four
days, I couldn't get a thing. The fifth day I was playing bass notes
on the moog, and out of that came 'Turn To Stone'. I bashed away
on a bucket for drums, and punched the microphone for bass drums.
'Mr. Blue Sky' was the hardest after that. It started as a chord
sequence that I pounded for nine hours in a row one day."
Out Of The Blue
ELO take time out during promotional video shoot for "Out
Of The Blue"
Kaminski, Hugh McDowell, Jeff
Lynne, Richard Tandy,
Kelly Groucutt, Melvyn Gale and
Bev Bevan, 1978
(Photo copyright Sony/BMG)
by Lynne to be his greatest ELO achievement and recently voted
"Anthem Of The Midlands"
by the public, 'Mr. Blue Sky'
continues to appear in film and TV ads to this very
intensive two-week writing period during May 1977 gave birth
to a double album's worth of new songs and just three months
later, ELO's definitive album was delivered. Global success
followed, with further singles 'Wild
West Hero' and 'Sweet Talkin'
Woman' both Top 10 hits.
live at Wembley 1978
copyright Gary Merrin)
Worldwide attendance and sales records were smashed on album pre-orders
alone and wherever tour dates were announced. ELO's all-conquering
sell-out tour began in February 1978 and lasted nine months. Audience
records were broken wherever they played, especially in the UK where
ELO headlined Wembley Arena for 8 sell out nights, the first band
ever to do so. By the end of the tour in October, ELO were firmly
established as one of the most popular bands in the world. They
finished 1978 with the unique feat of having a single, EP, album,
double album and three album box-set, 'Three
Light Years', all in the UK top 50 at once. The EP, featuring
'Can't Get It Out Of My Head', reached No 34.
an announcement ELO would not tour during 1979, the year soon became
business as usual as 'Discovery' went
to No. 1 in almost every country it was released. The album also
produced four massive hit singles, including 'Shine
A Little Love' (sampled most recently by The LoveFreekz)
and 'The Diary Of Horace Wimp'. 'Don't
Bring Me Down' (the first ELO single not to feature strings)
became the group's biggest-ever single hit while double a-side 'Confusion'/'Last
Train To London' continued chart success to the end of the
finished 1979 as Music Week's top album band, complementing
Jeff Lynne's Ivor Novello Award and an 'ELO's
Greatest Hits' package that immediately went Top 10 around
soundtrack work beckoned and ELO contributed to the 1980 movie
'Xanadu', which spawned hit singles
'I'm Alive', 'All
Over The World' and 'Don't Walk Away'.
Though the movie itself was heavily criticised, the music was
warmly embraced and the title track, sung with Olivia Newton-John,
gave Lynne his first No.1 UK single and another Ivor Novello Award
for Best Film Theme Song.
Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt and Richard Tandy.
copyright Epic Records/Frank Griffin - LFI International)
Bottom: The TIME Tour
Pictured here: Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy and Dave Morgan.
copyright Epic Records/Frank Griffin - LFI International)
signalled a departure from the traditional ELO sound with the release
of the keyboard and synthesizer dominated 'Time'.
It was preceded by the bi-lingual rocker 'Hold
On Tight', with Lynne describing Time as a significant change
in direction: "I've tried to create
a different sound for Time which is a concept album set in the future..
and by using fewer strings, the end result has been a far heavier
became another ELO no. 1 platinum album and three further singles
were released: 'Twilight', the double
a-sided 'Ticket To The Moon'/'Here Is The
News' and 'The Way Life's Meant To
Be'. With the success of the new singles, a planned 'Across
The Border EP', with tracks taken from a 4-LP compilation
box set entitled 'Four Light Years',
spent a year touring the world but this time with a scaled down
live show and an emphasis on their live sound rather than spectacle.
Out went the giant spaceships, lasers and cellists, and in came
long-time orchestral arranger Louis Clark and old friend and Birmingham
musician Dave Morgan, both on keyboards. Though the Time
Tour was meant to be ELO's swansong, Lynne soon regrouped the band
for rehearsals for 'Secret Messages'.
Originally intended as a double LP, the concept album was based
on Lynne's reaction to ELO being bizarrely labelled "devil-worshippers"
as a result of supposedly backward-masking satanic messages in their
was one of the bands' politer responses.
Kelly Groucutt, Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy.
copyright Sony Music)
Ultimately, 'Secret Messages' was a fine - if somewhat unfulfilled
- single album when finally released in 1983. The lead single, 'Rock
'N' Roll Is King', saw Top 20 chart success on both sides
of the Atlantic but subsequent singles 'Secret
'Four Little Diamonds' failed to make much impression.
1986's 'Balance Of Power', ELO were
now down to a trio of Lynne, Bevan and Tandy. While the music itself
was uplifting and bright and contained hit singles 'Calling
America' and 'So Serious', the
album was filled with a lyrical sadness that seemed to foretell
ELO's imminent split. 'Getting To The Point'
became ELO's final single of the 80's and its lyrics left
no doubt that Lynne had reached "the
point of no return" - he disbanded the group shortly
and Richard share a joke, 1986
(Photo copyright Michael Putland/RETNA/Epic Records)
Right: Richard during the Discovery
copyright Fin Costello/Redferns/Epic Records)
contemplating what to do next, Lynne was thrilled to be contacted
by George Harrison to collaborate with him on the ex-Beatle's
'Cloud Nine' album. Lynne then
joined Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and
Tom Petty as the Traveling Wilburys on 1988's
Grammy Award-winning 'Volume 1' and
1991's 'Volume 3'. In between,
Lynne produced and co-wrote Orbison's 'You
Got It', Petty's 'Full Moon Fever'
in 1989 and 'Into The Great Wide Open'
in 1991 and his own debut solo album 'Armchair
Theatre', which contained the hit single 'Every
memorably produced 'Free As A Bird'
and 'Real Love'
for 'The Beatles Anthology'
project, following which he collaborated with Paul McCartney
on his album 'Flaming Pie'.
Dream Come True
Jeff Lynne with Sir George Martin and Neil Aspinall at
the launch of "Beatles Anthology 1" in London 1995
copyright Andy Davis)
Bottom: Michael Kamen presents Jeff
with the Ivor Novello for Outstanding Services to British
In 1996, Jeff Lynne's formidable musical talents were recognised
when he was presented with his third Ivor Novello Award, for Outstanding
Services to British Music.
During 2000, ELO's 30th anniversary year, Lynne decided to
reactivate the Electric Light Orchestra. The return began
with 'Flashback', a definitive
career-spanning retrospective boxset: "To
me this is a real flashback of musical memory. I feel good
about returning to this. It's taken me awhile to get enough
distance from ELO to see what it was. At the time I didn't
see what it was. When you're in the middle of a thing, it's
'What the hell is it?'" 'Zoom',
released a year later, featured long-term ELO keyboard player
Richard Tandy plus guest appearances from George Harrison
and Ringo Starr and was ELO's first brand new album for 15
years: "I thought, what about
using this new knowledge that I'd got - after working with
all these guys that I really respected - to putting that towards
an ELO album, to see what it'd be like now. ELO was always
my group, so I had no qualms about when or far between albums
you've got to have (laughs). Could be 20 years - this is only
also saw the beginning of definitive and expanded remastered
editions of ELO's albums: 'Electric Light Orchestra' and 'ELO
2' on EMI in the UK and 'Eldorado - A Symphony By The Electric
Light Orchestra', 'Discovery', 'Time' and 'Secret Messages'
on Sony. 'Zoom Tour Live' was
a spectacular surround-sound DVD that captured a live ELO
concert in Los Angeles during May, while VH-1 dedicated a
Storytellers TV special to Lynne's music that was filmed in
New York in front of an invited audience of ELO fans that
had flown in from "all over the world".
live at CBS studios, Los Angeles May 2001
by Annamaria DiSanta, copyright Sony Music/Epic Records)
2002, Lynne was back in the recording studio working on a
variety of projects, one of which involved co-producing and
helping complete George Harrison's posthumously released album,
'Brainwashed'. He was also heavily
involved in the tribute memorial concert, held at London's
Royal Albert Hall in November 2002 and subsequently responsible
for the outstanding surround-sound production of the lavish
'Concert For George' DVD released
in November 2003. 2006 sees Lynne return to the producers'
chair for Tom Petty's acclaimed Grammy-nominated
1987 The Palace in Hollywood: Jeff Lynne with George Harrison
a Dave Edmunds concert
copyright Robert Matheu)
In 2005, Jeff Lynne compiled and digitally remastered 'All
Over The World - The Very Best Of ELO' which reached no.6
in the UK album charts and experienced similar success worldwide.
The 20-track compilation has stayed around the charts ever since,
highlighting ELO's incredible popularity and longevity since their
Jeff Lynne's considerable talents have seen him recognised as
one of the finest producers and songwriters of his generation,
admired and respected by fans and music industry alike. Whether
balancing a solo, songwriting, production or ELO career, Lynne's
major contribution to popular music now spans four decades.
With further ELO remasters and projects scheduled for 2007 and
beyond, Jeff Lynne's outstanding musical legacy looks set to shine
on for many more years!
ALBUMS IN THE FTM SHOP
read about them - now hear them! ELO and the music of Jeff
Lynne remastered and now available in the FTM Shop...