For a confirmed Beatlemaniac like Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame, working with members of the Fab Four had always been a dream. Beginning in the late 1980s, every one of them came true.
It started when Lynne was tabbed to produce George Harrison’s comeback album Cloud 9, which led to the formation of the Traveling Wilburys — and all-star amalgam that included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison.
“George said to me one night, when I was working on Cloud 9: ‘You know what? Me and you should have a group,'” Lynne tells Dennis Miller. “And I said: ‘That’s a good idea. Who should we have in it, then?,’ not thinking anything, really. And he said: ‘Oh, Bob Dylan.’ I said: ‘Oh, yeah, that’s great. That’s a great idea.’ (Laughs.) It just went on and on. It was just a fantastic time.”
After having last issued a solo album in 1990’s Armchair Theatre, Lynne has returned with a flourish over the last months — issuing a new album of standards, another of redone classic songs from the Electric Light Orchestra, reissues of Armchair and 2001’s Zoom, as well as a rare live concert recording by ELO.
Still, his intersections with the Beatles remain touchstone career moments.
Lynne would ultimately create two albums with the Wilburys, before going on to oversee the creation of two new Beatles tracks, with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Harrison collaborating on left over tracks from the late John Lennon. Later, Lynne produced solo albums for Starr, McCartney (his terrific Flaming Pie) and Harrison — including the final recordings by the latter, 2002’s Brainwashed.
“You do actually get what you wish for,” Lynne adds, “and I really did wish to have out with and play with the Beatles themselves — and all of my other heroes, like Del Shannon and Roy Orbison. I got to do all of them, and nobody let me down. So, it’s always been a great feeling for me — having looked at them from the outside, and then suddenly I was in the middle of it all, doing those singles ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love.'”