Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne, both still performing at the top of their game in their seventies, could actually be standing at the top of rock and pop’s greatest family tree.
The Beatles are, without question, the most popular band to have ever existed and the most influential too.
Jeff Lynne was a little younger than the Beatles and in awe of them. He was also a big fan of Roy Orbison. Roy was a little older than The Beatles and influenced them including the second single “Please Please Me”, which started as a slower Roy Orbison type ballad, until John’s Aunt Mimi suggested they speed it up.
The Beatles toured supporting Roy Orbison in the UK. They were so popular, that the bill was flipped to have The Beatles on last to appease the attendant audiences.
When The Beatles entered the second half of their career, their use of George Martin orchestrations was a key feature. Jeff Lynne joined The Move towards the end of their career following big hit singles such as “Fire Brigade” and “Blackberry Way” in the late 1960’s. As the seventies started, The Beatles went their separate ways and Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood from The Move formed Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) with the intention of continuing The Beatles’ symphonic pop vision perhaps best exemplified by their song “I Am The Walrus”.
John Lennon fondly called ELO “Sons Of Beatles” in 1974 and loved the song “Showdown”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqaIH2U8vRI
He appreciated the nod to The Beatles and appreciated bands who wore their influences on their sleeves.
Throughout the seventies, the only Beatle to tour significantly was Paul McCartney with his band Wings. The mid to late 70’s pop charts were dominated by Wings and ELO, so Lynne and McCartney were separately carrying The Beatles’ baton. Think about those massive hits from 1976 onwards: Let ‘Em In, Silly Love Songs, With A Little Luck, Mull Of Kintyre (still the biggest non charity UK single), Goodnight Tonight, Coming Up, along with ELO’s Livin’ Thing, Telephone Line, Mr Blue Sky, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Turn To Stone, Wild West Hero, The Diary Of Horace Wimp, Don’t Bring Me Down, All Over The World, Xanadu and that is just in the space of 4 years from 1976 to 1980.
Fast-forward to 1987 and George Harrison had his hit album “Cloud Nine” produced by Jeff Lynne. The album included an affectionate Beatles pastiche called “When We Was Fab”. In 1988, when the 3rd single “This Is Love” was being readied for release, a bonus track was required. George and producer Jeff set about recording this with the help of friends Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Bob had been friends with the Beatles since 1964, especially George. Bob had toured with Tom Petty extensively from 1985 to 1987. The resultant song “Handle With Care” was deemed too special by George’s record company Warner Brothers to be used as a b-side, so George, Jeff, Roy, Tom and Bob ended up recording Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 and having a hit album on their hands. Roy sadly died in Dec 1988, but not before Jeff had produced tracks for his Mystery Girl album (released posthumously in 1989).
Tom was next up for Jeff’s magical production. He recorded the solo album “Full Moon Fever” which contained the hits “I Won’t Back Down”, “Runnin’ Down A Dream” and “Free Fallin”.
In 1994, while filming the Beatles Anthology TV series, three double albums were prepared with outtakes from across The Beatles’ career. Two unreleased “new” songs by John Lennon were chosen to be recorded by the three surviving Beatles (performing with John on tape) to help promote the project. The producer chosen by the surviving Beatles for both “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” was Jeff Lynne.
The success of this in turn lead to Paul McCartney choosing Jeff Lynne to produce his highly acclaimed “Flaming Pie” album in 1997.
When Jeff Lynne was recording the ELO comeback album “Zoom” in 2001, he called on George to play guitar. When George was working on his final “Brainwashed” album, Jeff was there producing.
After George’s untimely death at the end of 2001, a tribute “Concert For George” was arranged. Playing at this concert were Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and Ringo Starr.
Sadly now with John Lennon, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison no longer with usit feels, more than ever, that Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne are carrying the Beatles’ symphonic pop legacy on in arenas and stadiums the world over.
It is in celebration of this unique association, that we started ELO Beatles Beyond to play the fabulous crossover catalogue of Lynne and McCartney and the various Beatles / Beatles Solo and Wilbury related artists in theatres and venues across the UK…and Beyond!