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Apr 7 17 9:38 PM
"Tonight is about celebrating that Big Bang ... when we welcomed ELO ... a musical galaxy right between Chuck Berry and Beethoven," says musician
Dhani Harrison inducted the Electric Light Orchestra into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Friday night, led by his father's former Traveling Wilburys bandmate Jeff Lynne. The group has had many members come and go over the years, but the Hall of Fame only inducted keyboardist Richard Tandy, drummer Bev Bevan and multi-instrumentalist Roy Wood alongside Lynne. (Bevan was unable to make it due to a prior commitment.)
"It's like my dad said, everything comes to him who waits," Jeff Lynne tells Brooklyn crowd
Dhani grew up around Lynne, who produced his father's 1987 comeback LP Cloud Nine and stayed close with him for years afterwards. The singer talked about going to see ELO, his first rock concert with his father and the surprise he had when his dad jumped onstage with Lynne and Co. to play "Johnny B Goode." Read the full speech below.
I'm truly honored to induct one of my all-time favorite bands, Electric Light Orchestra, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can't imagine any of us being here tonight, least of all myself, without the tremendous life and music of Chuck Berry and on behalf of my band, nice one, Chuck. Now, if my father was still with us I would imagine he would be standing where I am right now graciously inducting the original members of the ELO into the hall of fame. He loved ELO. People loved ELO. I'd like to introduce the four original members who will be inducted tonight. The powerhouse drummer, Bev Bevan. With his rocking solo on "Don't Bring Me Down," he oftentimes would bring the house down. Even the keyboard player, Richard Tandy, still with him today but unfortunately not with us today. The groundbreaking, multi-instrumentalist Roy Wood. He wrote many of ELO's early songs. While Roy's time in the band may be shorter than the others he will always be an architect of ELO's DNA.
Last and certainly least, just kidding, my dear, dear pal, Jeff Lynne. A great songwriter, producer, musical [genius] of our time, a rare genius, a real live legend, ELO's mastermind for nearly 50 years. Jeff is one of my father's dearest friends and it was March of 1986 when I had my first close encounter of the ELO. My dad took me to a benefit concert in England. A massive arena packed to the roof for a headlining set by their hometown heroes. Bev, Richard and Jeff were all there. I'm remember it just like it was yesterday. This is my first big rock show. I was seven-and-a-half and from my distinction, ELO's performance that night was less like a regular rock band and more like what I think a 21st century, extraterrestrial space man with bizarre instruments. Their songs sound like a symphony. I stood there in silent astonishment watching these guys offer up incredible songs like, "Evil Woman," "Telephone Line," "Do Ya," "Mr. Blue Sky." Right? I thought, why do I need to see anyone in our house playing such strange looking instruments. I mean we all had guitars in our house but that guy had a tiny blue guitar jammed under his chin and that other guy has a massive big guitar on his side playing it. Very strange.
Anyway, onstage, the band appeared to be having as much fun as we were. That's when I decided they reminded me of a Star Wars cantina band. Only with lots more hair. Smoke all around in the air around them. The leader of the space band stood in the middle, singing falsetto like an angel. He seemed affable and occasionally he'd exchange pleasantries with us humans: we mean your planet no harm. I wanted to be transported, beamed up, probed, whatever, I just wanted to join their team and never go back. So after a dozen or so songs my father gets up from his seat and tells me to wait for him with this candy man who had taken us to our seats. He walked off and moments after he disappeared from view suddenly he reappeared onstage carrying a guitar. I began to panic because this was first time I had ever seen my dad play an instrument, ever, onstage in my entire life. Out of nowhere, in perfect unison, they all kicked into "Johnny B Goode." I remember thinking "What is going on? My father is being abducted by an intergalactic space orchestra." ELO has taken my father and left me behind.
The candy man assured that he would eventually be returned to us. So we made it back home together eventually and to my joy and surprise with ELO extraterrestrial wizard captain, the man with it all, Jeff Lynne. He had come to live with us on Earth and Jeff was soon a permanent fixture at our house. Him and my dad drove the same car. We were a traveling family. I got to see Jeff work in his secretive ways often late night. This was the dawn of an incredible blast of creativity for Jeff. He worked with dad on "Cloud Nine" and he produced Roy's "Mystery Girl." Co-wrote, co-produced "Full Moon Fever." I began to learn the Jeff Lynne studio lexicon you know words like "trilby" and "model scum." It's a tremendous category of artists that Jeff worked with – Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh. They aren't musicians who needed a lot of help, but they just needed Jeff. During one of those sessions I began to realize that all of my dad's friends were in fact from outer space like Jeff. You could tell because of their eyes, right? Their eyes were far more sensitive to Earth's bright sun. They communicated with each other via jukeboxes [and] secret messages through records.
These UFO-esque machines that I came to discover, were the albums of ELO. Starting from disc one, track one of the New World record. It just starts so quietly that I had to turn it up and then the terrifying sound of my roof caving in straight into the giant orchestral arrangement with a choir with big strums and that laser guitar. You're allowed to start a record like that? Somebody actually wrote an album like that and my life was changed. And years later, on a personal level, it hits back to home. [When] my father was lost we were trying to find a record, it seemed we had run out of time, but he told me seek out once again that space wizard, Jeff and that together we would know what to do. Jeff knew exactly how to cross that bridge. And within the process, I finally learned what "trilby" meant. Yes, I actually speak fluent Jeff now.
Working with Jeff is one of the most amazing times I've ever had. Seeing those beautiful blue eyes peeking over the top of those space lenses has carried me through some of the toughest musical moments of my life and for that I thank you. ELO is alive and well in the galaxy. There were ELO sightings last year at Glastonbury. They were seen by hundreds of thousands of people over a Hyde Park. I saw ELO two nights in a row over the Hollywood Bowl. It was in November right after the election and trust me when I tell you I was staring at their spaceship thinking, "take me with you." I saw some kids there that could have been seven-and-a-half and more of them that were probably seventy-seven-and-a-half all wanting to get beamed up.
Jeff, thank you for bringing the spaceship back with that "Mr. Blue Sky" laser guitar sound. Tonight is about celebrating the beginning, the birth, that Big Bang in 1970 when we all welcomed ELO, right? It's to celebrate these four superbly talented musicians, Roy, Bev, Richard, and Jeff who didn't always get along, but who were there in the beginning, willing to throw down together on these joyous rock, classical harmonies, these killer songs, that have lived longer than any of us now, somewhere around in a musical galaxy right between Chuck Berry and Beethoven. And so it's my great, great honor on behalf of all the humans that voted for this, because on some other planet I'm sure they've already done this, to induct ELO into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Apr 7 17 11:55 PM
NEW YORK - Opening a show that features one of the biggest bands of the 25 years, the most iconic rapper of all time and an endless number of brilliant musicians can be a tough task. But Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra were up for it.
ELO was the first artist honored at Friday night's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Lynne and the current lineup of the ELO hopped on stage right after a moving tribute video for Chuck Berry and performed a cover of the guitar legend's "Roll Over Beethoven."
It was the perfect way to begin a ceremony that took place less than a month after Berry's death. Lynne and company used "Roll Over Beethoven" (a song they've been playing for 45 plus years) to kickoff a set highlighted by a great rendition of "Evil Woman."
It was a pretty straightforward way to begin the ceremony with ELO's thrilling musicianship. Dhani Harrison, the son of George Harrison, took the stage to honor his late father's longtime friend.
Harrison joyfully recalled an ELO show in which his father joined the band on stage.
"The leader of a space band stood in the middle, singing like an angel," Harrison said of Lynne. "My father [was] being abducted by a space orchestra."
Harrison threw tons of praise Lynne's way, all of it deserving for "ELO's extraterrestrial captain."
During ELO's induction speech, Roy Wood praised Lynne for writing the music that earned the band its spot in the Rock Hall.
For his part, Lynne kept things brief. He recalled, touchingly, the musical education he received from his parents, before ending things. It was a subdued induction, but one with a touch of class.
"Thank you all very much indeed," Lynne said. "And I'll hand you over to someone else." Extraterrestrial captain out.
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It seemed obvious that when Roy Wood walked out on the Electric Light Orchestra in June 1972, and left the band in the hands of Jeff Lynne, there had been an inevitable outbreak of “musical differences.”
You couldn’t have two equally creative and talented and focused people in one little band, could you? So the headlines spoke of artistic tension and personal grievances, and Lynne’s ELO became a huge success while Wood’s Wizzard had their own taste of success along the way.While perception is often regarded as reality, it’s not always the truth. Despite Lynne’s own comments (“We couldn’t work together – it was like having two bosses,” he’s reported to have said), Wood always maintained there was a different story to be heard behind the scenes. The problem was, Wood was a quiet sort of chap, something of a recluse offstage, so he wasn’t often in the position to offer his version of events.
But the way he tells it, manager Don Arden was to blame for Wood’s decision to depart soon after the launch of ELO’s self-titled debut album. The group had been built in 1970 on the foundations of Wood’s psychedelic pop band the Move, and Lynne had been invited to join purely because Wood wanted him there. It had been a meeting of musical minds, an ambitious attempt to introduce the widest possible sonic background to the world of pop music, along with larger-than-life stage personas, and that’s exactly what they’d achieved by the time debut track “10538 Overture” was heard.
Their mission, said Wood, was “to produce a widely based jazz and classically influenced free-form music.” One reviewer described the first LP as “sonic terrorism.” By the time “10538 Overture” was enjoying chart success, at the end of June 1972, Wood had already left.
Arden wasn’t the type of character you crossed easily. Infamous for having allegedly hung a rival out of a fourth-story window, and for any number of violent and aggressive outbursts at those he didn’t like (even if temporarily), the father of Sharon Osbourne had his own vision of how his bands should operate. He’d also managed the Move – and even though they’d eventually escaped his clutches, they’d wound up back with him again.
Arden’s aim was for Wood and his band to be massive; but by all accounts, he wasn’t interested in what Wood had to say about it. What he says now on his official website is that “Roy unfortunately had political disagreements mainly with the management, and with true regret decided he had to leave the band.”
“He was the man that ruined my career,” Wood said of Arden in 2009. “His business dealings all came out in the end. At the time it was reported that I’d had a huge row with Jeff Lynne. That simply wasn’t true. We’ve never had a real row and we’re still mates now.”
Wood had taken a potshot at Arden two years earlier, soon after the impresario’s death. “The bloke ruined my career,” he stated. “He enjoyed the image of being some sort of mafioso, but all he was was a crooked manager who couldn’t keep his fingers out of the till. I had as much chance of becoming lord mayor of London as getting my money back from Don Arden. But there was a lot of that around in those days.”
Asked whether he had any warmth for the businessman in the light of his death, Wood said, “Unfortunately, I seem to have mislaid the number for Interflora,” the flower-delivery company.
It’s been suggested that Arden positively wanted Wood and Lynne to fall out, because he could make more money if they both ran their own bands. If that’s true, he was right. While ELO are regarded as having soared higher than Wizzard, it was the latter group, in the first years of its operation, that made a real impact. And even though Wood might prefer to be remembered for his Move track “Blackberry Way” or WIzzard’s “Angel Fingers,” he laughed warmly in 2012 at being described as having “owned Christmas” for a number of years with the eternal anthem “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.”
Lynne and Wood have met on a number of occasions since the split, although, with all that water under the bridge, it seems that any kind of musical collaboration is the stuff of dreams. But they shared the stage together in 2017 when ELO were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those who haven’t had much experience of the dry and lightly spoken humor that emanates from Birmingham might suspect Wood of speaking with hollow words when he said, “I thank Jeff for his dedication to writing the songs, otherwise we wouldn’t have been invited here tonight.”
Those sentiments echo quotes he gave in 1974, when he said of ELO, “Even though I’m not part of it anymore, I am glad it came to light. It would have been frustrating if it hadn’t. It’s a good band, and Jeff is still a good friend of mine.”
The upside is that we did get two very different, but equally off-the-wall and awe-inspiring bands out of the split. We also got some incredible music, the likes of which we might never hear again. “It feels now that it’s all been done and we’re treading over old ground, just trying to make it slightly different,” Wood said of pop music in 2012. “We were pioneering the way in the old days, and I think that’s why we were successful. We were different.”
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Jun 10 17 4:04 PM
Charles Crossley Jr wrote:That wasn't just any rival that Don Arden hung over the balcony. That was Robert Stigwood (can we say "Bee Gees"?). It started when subordinates of Stigwood asked the Small Faces if they were interested in different management. Arden then took two of his "minders", hired two more muscled men, went over to Stigwood's office, smashed an ornate ashtray to put across that he was very angry, and then hoisted Stigwood out of his chair and hung him over the balcony so Stigwood was looking at the ground. He asked his four men if he should drop him or forgive him, and his men chimed in with the previously rehearsed "Drop him!" Arden then hauled Stigwood back to his chair and warned him never to interfere with any of Arden's acts ever again.Unless memory fails me, I do believe this incident found its way into Spinal Tap. The character was a combination of Don Arden and Peter Grant, whose cricket bat also made it into the film.
Jun 10 17 4:09 PM
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