SMG Musician Spotlight: Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra

Over the years I’ve listened to countless hours of rock and roll radio.  When I would hear something I liked I would purchase the album, on vinyl, later on cassette tapes, and then on CDs.  One of the first songs that caught my attention was, Fire On High by ELO.  It’s an odd tune for a few reasons.  First it’s an instrumental, (if you don’t count the strange back-masked voices), and last because it just sounds really frantic, but at the same time very cool.  It’s one of my all time favorite instrumentals.

Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed that song I mostly ignored ELO and Jeff Lynne for many years.   About two years ago I picked up a double CD collection called, Light Years, that consisted of their greatest hits, and I was blown away by their sound.  I had no idea what I’d been missing.  Before that, I’d enjoyed Jeff Lynne in the Traveling Wilburys and his various other projects, including his production of Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, and Into the Great Wide Open.

ELO had lots of hit singles but they never had a number one hit.  However, they do hold the record for the most top 40 hits of any band in US history.  Lynne has a loyal following, but for the most part his music has always been underrated.  I would say the closest sound to ELO was a mixture of The Beatles and Queen who were much more popular and more successful.   I would not say Queen was better then ELO by a long shot, and I think that much of ELO’s music holds up better with time.  With the artistic direction and production talents of Jeff Lynne, they created some very original and unique music.

Jeff Lynne spent time with The Beatles in the recording studio during the recording of the White Album.  The experience greatly influenced Lynne in his musical direction.  I cannot think of another lead guitarist who has more respect for making and producing music.  Even his idols, The Beatles, choose Lynne to produce their last two songs, one of which, Free as a Bird, won a Grammy.   John Lennon called Lynne the son of The Beatles.

Don’t overlook ELO, or Jeff Lynne’s other projects.  To do so would be to miss out on one of the great sounds in rock and roll history.  Enjoy the music.


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  • Mickey

    Great little piece on Jeff Lynne. I’m a huge fan and the dude’s got that Midas touch you know, everything he does is golden!

  • Esty Clark

    I thought your article was fantastic! I love ELO and have since I was 10. I will always be a fan of ELO, as their music is so much fun to listen to plus I think Jeff Lynne knows his stuff!! 🙂

  • Mickey

    Hi Esty, Thanks for reading the post and taking time to leave the nice comment. I’ve been listening to the best of ELO over the last few days and LOVIN’ it!!! Take care and hope to talk again.

  • Esty

    Hi Mickey! hopefully others from the forum will read the article, I would like to get some more of their cd’s, the two I have are ELO’s greatest hits, and I also had an 8 track tape of this as well, and the very best of ELO, All Over the World, play them so much!!! Nice talking with you, 🙂

  • I started listening to ELO at 8 or 9 years old. We heard Mr. Blue Sky on the radio and went out and bought a copy of it on a 45 single. I’m 45 now, and have been hooked ever since.

    I have Discovery on LP, and on CD. I have Afterglow, which I’m very protective of. I have all the Greatest Hits, Out of The Blue, OLE/EDO, A New World Record.

    My absolute favorite song is Wild West Hero.

    But, here is what is the true indicator of musical genius. It stands the test of time.

    My 14 year old son is hooked. He took my Afterglow albums, got them on iTunes, and now he listens to ELO more than he listens to 2009 rock or pop music.

    ELO music is showing up in commercials everywhere. Mr. Blue Sky was kind of obvious, but I think I have clearly heard the intro to Showdown, and possibly a couple of others out there.

    Finally, I REALLY think that Jeff Lynne could move this music into the Symphony Hall and into the Band Halls of America, getting yet another generation hooked on ELO, and making it “Classical” music. It’s that good, and Jeff deserves the recognition of not just being a rock music genius, but an all-time music genius, up there with Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

    That’s my two cent’s worth. Jeff, go get this great music into the Symphony Halls and Band Halls of America and Europe, so it can be heard for the next 200 years!

    Glen Austin
    Lifetime Fan

  • Esty

    It is good to see younger kids being taught about bands such as ELO. And expand thier knowledge of classic artists. Sounds like you have quite a collection!! And Jeff Lynne does derserve more recognition for his talents.

  • Bladerunner

    One of thee most underrated artists and producers. Jeff Lynne deserves much more recognition. And I can’t wait for his next musical move. All I can say is Thank You for writing the music that weaves in and out of my life and heart!

  • Rob Kowal

    Previous to ElO Jeff Lyne was a member of a band called the Move. If fact ElO’s Do Ya was first recorded as a 45 and on the Move lp Split Ends. This lp is a must have for ELO fans. More trivia: the 1st ELO lp was actually the Move!!! Before the Move Jeff Lynne was in another Birmingham band called the Idle Race. The progression from the Idle Race to the Move to ELO is a facinating journey that all ELO fans should know about!!!

    • hi Rob, that’s really good to learn. I’ll have to be checking me out some… The Move 😉

  • The backward masked voice in “Fire On High” says this: “The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back, turn back, turn back”  Yes, I had the album many years ago and ran it backwards to find out what the hell he was saying.

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