Martin Cooper checks out symphonic pop masters ELO and the guitar style of their mighty frontman, the multi-talented Jeff Lynne.
Martin Cooper bows to the multi-talented frontman of ELO – the wonderful Jeff Lynne.
The Electric Light Orchestra was formed in 1970 by Birmingham multiinstrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood, along with The Move drummer Bev Bevan. Having disbanded The Move, Lynne and Wood started ELO with a desire to create symphonic songs that fused superb, Beatles-influenced pop writing with classical ideas and instrumentation. Wood left to form Wizard and, along with keyboardist Richard Tandy, ELO saw incredible success during the 1970s and 80s, before Lynne moved on to other projects. He was to reunite with Tandy only last year to form Jeff Lynne’s ELO – with so many tribute bands and off-shoots from former members trading on the ELO name, the current name and line-up leaves no doubt as to who’s steering the ship.
In the early days the orchestral string parts were overdubbed in the studio, but after the success of the first few albums Lynne began to hire orchestras to more authentically interpret his epic arrangements. At the time ELO sold over 50 million albums and played to full-to-capacity stadiums all over the world.
During a lengthy hiatus from the band – he left in 1986 as he was losing interest in ELO – Lynne was hardly sitting idle, and co-wrote, produced and played on records by Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and The Beatles. More recently he has produced albums from Joe Walsh and Bryan Adams. He was also part of supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. When Lynne reformed the band under the official ELO name and announced a show in London’s Hyde Park, all 50,000 tickets sold out in 15 minutes and subsequently led to them headlining the Legends slot at Glastonbury.
The track this month is in the key of D (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#), but uses notes and
Bb, chords outside the key including C, and which lends a distinct Beatles-style quality. While not difficult, be careful to play the chords accurately and in time, as there is a lot of space in the arrangement to incorporate the melody and harmony parts played by the string section , piano and organ. The chart has the implied chords written. These are what the acoustic guitar on the recording is playing, with the electric guitar playing some embellishments to the underlying chord harmonies.
LYNNE CO-wROTE, pRODuCED AND pLAYED ON ALBums BY TOm pETTY, ERIC CLApTON AND ThE BEATLEs
Jeff Lynne: so much more than ELO’s guitarist!