‘Don’t know if I’ll take the plunge': Jeff Lynne on touring, and the possibility of reunions with ELO and the Traveling Wilburys

Jeff Lynne discusses the prospect of a new tour, and ruminates both on reforming the Traveling Wilburys and reuniting with other original members of the Electric Light Orchestra in advance of a hometown honor tonight in Birmingham.

He participated in a live set with fellow ELO stalwart Richard Tandy at the recent Children in Need event, sparking questions about a long-hoped-for tour from the famously studio-bound Lynne. Offers for a series of concert appearances, including a residency at the 02 in London, have followed.

“I’m flattered when I’m told that I could sell out six nights but I can’t really imagine it,” Lynne tells The Birmingham Mail. “It’s great that people still want to hear my music, but the O2? And six nights? Like I said, I’m flattered. I don’t know if I’ll take the plunge and go back out on the road again, despite the offers that have been coming in. There are people wanting me to play and either I will do it or I will not. I’m still undecided. I totally prefer working in the studio to touring. I always have.”

Lynne is back home tonight for a gala ceremony where he will be inducted into Broad Street’s Walk of Stars, joining a group of honorees that also includes former Electric Light Orchestra members Roy Wood and Bev Bevan, among others. The bandmates, also members of the legendary pre-ELO band the Move, haven’t seen each other in decades, Lynne confirms — though Wood is expected to attend the Walk of Stars event. [UPDATE: Click here for a report on the reunion between Lynne and Wood.]

“Would we ever get back together? Probably not,” says Lynne, who recently reworked an album of old ELO favorites alone. “We’ve all moved on in our separate ways since we first played together in the Move and the original Electric Light Orchestra line-up.”

Lynne is more bullish, however, on the possibility to reforming a new version of the Traveling Wilburys, an all-star amalgam that rose to quick fame in the late 1980s before losing Roy Orbison and then, much later, Lynne’s friend George Harrison. Tom Petty and Bob Dylan rounded out the lineup.

“Could we do it again, start a new version of the Wilburys? Possibly, yes,” Lynne tells the Mail. “I think if a couple of us wanted to do it, and the right people were interested, then it could work.”

Ultimately, Lynne says that working alongside Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and (with a pair of old demos provided by John Lennon’s widow) the Beatles remains the highpoint of his storied career: “I’m proud of the Traveling Wilburys; I’m proud of ELO; I’m proud of working hard and making things happen. But the Beatles? That was special.”

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