ELO’s Jeff Lynne Reflects On Producing The Beatles’ ‘Anthology’ Singles In New Interview 

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

A lifelong Beatles fan, Jeff Lynne first met the Fab Four at Abbey Road when they were recording The White Album.

I was recording with the Idle Race in London in 1968,” Jeff recounts in a new interview with Louder. “A friend of our engineer phoned the studio to say he was working on a Beatles session at Abbey Road.”

I saw Paul and Ringo in Studio 3,” he continues, “doing a piano and vocal. Then I got invited into Studio 2, where John and George were in the control room. Down below, in the actual studio, George Martin was hurling himself around this pedestal, conducting the string section for ‘Glass Onion’.”

There is a saying in showbusiness that one should never meet their heroes, but clearly this didn’t apply to Jeff.

I was blown away,” he beams. “Nobody had heard it yet, but there I was in Abbey Road, actually listening to it being made. I stayed for maybe half an hour, then I thought it would be polite to leave, because you feel a bit of a dick in that company. So I went back to where the Idle Race were recording and, of course, it didn’t sound quite so good.”

After rising to greater prominence with the chart-topping tELO in the 1970s, Lynne would later befriend and produce albums for George Harrison in the 1980s.

The pair would then form the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan.

This was no doubt a dream come true, but for Lynne but during the 1990s this was followed by an even bigger break.

To commemorate John Lennon‘s death the surviving Beatles would record together again.

Geroge had put Lynne’s name froward to work with George Martin to co-produce two unfinished Lennon songs.

This was more than a little intimidating.

I think Paul was a bit wary of me,” Lyne confides. “He might have thought that I’d be in George Harrison’s camp and that I would favor whatever he said. But it was never going to be like that. They’re all Beatles to me, and I wanted to do my best to make it a record that they were all pleased with.”

I was staying in a cottage in Paul’s grounds during the recording of ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love,” he continues, “with George in another part of the house. Every morning he’d shout up: ‘C’mon, ya lazy bugger! Your porridge is ready!’ Then it was off to work on the new Beatles record. It was surreal.

While Lennon, who had died in 1980, never worked with Lynne, Jeff’s interviewer brings up the fact that Lennon had once expressed that he was an ELO fan during the 1970s.

I’ve actually got a recording of him saying that,” he notes. “He was a guest DJ on an American radio show in New York, and he said: ‘Nice little group, these. I love this group.’ He got talking aboutShowdown, and said: ‘I thought this would be Number One, but [label] United Artists never got their fingers out.’ It was fantastic.

You can read Jeff Lynne’s full Louder interview here.

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