‘There was just them three, and me': Jeff Lynne on the Beatles reunion’s tense initial moments

Many was the fan who longed to be a fly on the wall in the mid-1990s when the surviving Beatles reconvened for the first time since 1970 sessions for “I Me Mine.” Jeff Lynne, the Electric Light Orchestra mastermind who would produce these reunion tracks, is proud to say he was that fly.

Things started tentatively, however, as George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr began sessions work that would ultimately result in the completion of two old John Lennon demos, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” Both new tracks were included on the Anthology series, with the former becoming the Beatles’ 34th Top 10 U.S. hit.

“When we got in the room, they hadn’t been in the same room for, like, 20 years or so — the three of them, all at once,” Lynne tells Itv News Central. They would break the ice by returning to the old days. “We sat and listened to these tales of the Beatles, and all of the things you ever wanted to know,” Lynne adds. “I was just thrilled to bits with that. I was in the club. There was just them three, and me — that was it.”

Lynne, who to that point had already worked with Harrison and Starr on solo projects, would later produce McCartney’s Flaming Pie project and a posthumous release by Harrison, as well.

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  • rslawsky

    I could tell from the Anthology show that the cracks in the reunion started to show fairly quickly. Ringo, in particular, looked by the end of it that he’d rather be somewhere else. I was hoping for some insight into those sessions.

  • EdSullivan

    I want to know why Jeff Lynne was there. Never liked his production style.

    • Richard Galvin

      George and him were friends, and “Cloud Nine” is wonderful.

      Some folks don’t have taste I guess.

      • amorelle hill

        Not to mention that they were both in the Traveling Wilburys. LOVE Jeff Lynne!!

    • Matilda Milhouse

      You and nobody else.

  • https://www.facebook.com/#!/yonahcd?fref=nf Yonah C D

    didn’t like what he did with dave edmunds as a producer, but he did a good job on the 2 beatles tunes.

  • bc62

    I believe Jeff did a great production number with this single.

    • Bruiser in Houston

      Especially when you consider the technology of 20-years ago.
      I heard a demo recently. Someone had taken Lennon’s original Free As A Bird and reworked it himself. Clear as a bell, too.

  • Bruiser in Houston

    That was the rumor in the mid-80s. Heard it first spoken by Alan Hunter on MTV in the summer of 1985. The Beatles would re-form, Jeff would join, and ELO would vanish. This is after Secret Messages, and no one knew about Kelly Groucutt’s departure back then, but before Balance of Power.

    A funny thing. Balance of Power was a “contract fulfillment” album. Jeff owed that one more album. That same record company refused to let him record Secret Messages as a double album, citing a lack of interest from the buying public. Me, I think it was all about revenue streams. Double albums weren’t priced twice the price of singles, only about 50% higher (say, $9.99 and $14.99) back then.