2015 – The Burning Questions: Why did Jeff Lynne think ELO were over?
Sick of touring, Lynne wondered if ELO still had an audience. After Hyde Park 2014, a renewed creation is ready to hit the stage.
In the 1970s the Electric Light Orchestra owned the airwaves in Britain and the US. They’ve racked up 27 hits in the UK alone, including Sweet Talking Woman, Telephone Line and Mr Blue Sky; songs which fused Beatles-inspired harmonies with swooping riffs and lavish strings. Behind it all was Jeff Lynne, the group’s perma-bearded, sunglasses-wearing guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer.
ELO disbanded in 1986. Lynne revived the brand briefly for 2001’s underwhelming Zoom album before calling time on the group again. “I thought that was it for ELO,” admits Lynne, who spent the 2000s producing albums for George Harrison and Tom Petty and making the occasional solo record.
But the man – and the brand – have enjoyed an Indian summer, beginning with September 2014’s headline appearance at BBC Radio 2’s Festival In A Day in front of a 50,000-strong crowd at a sold-out Hyde Park in London, and culminating with a just-released new ELO album, Alone In The Universe.
In 2015, the 67-year-old Jeff Lynne – still bearded, still wearing those sunglasses – has been on the comeback trail. And he can’t quite believe his good fortune.