b. December 30, 1947
Jeff Lynne was born in Birmingham, UK, a medium-sized industrial city in England's West-Midlands section. Though he had not yet taken interest to learning any particular craft, Jeff did develop a strong childhood interest in music. Jeff was first exposed to music first with his grandparents, who were very musical. His father, who was not a musician, would often listen to classical music, much to the young Jeff's chagrin! Soon Jeff would find himself listening to rock music by the Beatles, and ballads by great musicians like Del Shannon and Roy Orbison. Though Jeff would later develop a very "Beatlesque" sound, he first did not like the Beatles, saying that he thought 'Love Me Do' was a completely horrible song. Shortly thereafter he heard 'Please Please Me' and decided that he wanted to get a guitar! Soon Jeff got his a guitar and he began practicing day and night.
From his home in the Shard End section of Birmingham, Jeff started to collect instruments and recording equipment, which he filled his parent's home with. It wasn't very long before Jeff quickly developed a talent with piping notes he heard into his guitar, though he admittedly could not even read music! He would listen to the songs and play a single string until he was able to duplicate the sound of the notes by ear, then he would figure out the right chord progression and tempo, all in his head. By this time Birmingham was developing a significant musical scene similar to Liverpool's, and Jeff was able to get local influences. Local familiar groups like The Move would later ask Jeff to join their lineups. The local pop talent was quickly given the moniker 'Brum Beat' and Jeff would find himself growing more and more restless to establish himself. Playing guitar in a couple of small bands, Jeff began to seriously look for a band that he could play and record with.
It was during this time that, after sitting in with a few local bands, that he got to play extensively with the Chads. It was here that Jeff's guitar playing was first recorded. Not long after the Chads Jeff joined The Nightriders, who were impressed so much with Jeff's talent that he quickly became their main songwriter. The Beatles had changed rock & pop music all over Britain, with bands achieving success by writing their own music and lyrics. The Nightriders would later become The Idle Race, and Jeff would gather valuable studio experience as he produced two albums with the band.
In 1970 Jeff left The Idle Race for another Birmingham group that was already very successful. After another invite from Roy Wood, the Move's front man, Jeff joined the band that would be the roots of The Electric Light Orchestra. Roy Wood, who was impressed with Jeff's technique on guitar and vocals, brainstormed with Jeff about forming a group that would play symphonic rock similar to their inspiration of one song: 'I Am The Walrus' from The Beatles' album Magical Mystery Tour.
Jeff's first solo work appeared in 1976, with 'Doin' That Crazy Thing' and 'Goin' down to Rio'. Jeff had an unabashed liking of disco, which he would indulge in during the making of the ELO Discovery Album. During this time Jeff also induged in giving homage to his idols during his Beatle cover song contributions to the soundtrack of All This And World War Two.
As ELO exploded on the international pop charts, Jeff became weary of the publicity surrounding the band. Around 1979, at the age of 31, Jeff found time to try settling down and took vows with Sandi Kapelson, whom he had met sometime earlier at a Jet Records party. It is no surprise that little is known of this facet of Jeff's life as he has always been, understandably, a fiercely private person. The two secretly married in California. It was during these years that Jeff became a father of two daughters, and one of them would later get to sing with him on an album track in the studio. Jeff worked hard to keep any and all parts of his family isolated from the fandom that was exploding with ELO. In fact, the fan newsletter picture above is the world's only publicized photo of Jeff's personal life from the late 70s.
Less than a year after the end of ELO, Jeff's career transformed as he began to take on a production role in several projects like Cloud Nine with George Harrison. This album was highly successful and brought Harrison back to the charts after a 7-year absence.
Roy Orbison and Tom Petty would also decide to work with the newly established producer and in turn had highly successful solo albums, Mystery Girl and Full Moon Fever. Del Shannon recorded his last solo effort under Lynne's guidance as well. One trend that Jeff helped start in the rock industry was crossovers of recording artists. Lynne productions had Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and other legends lending their talents to various projects. In fact, by 1988 Jeff and George found themselves spontaneously recording with their new friends in the studio and recording songs together, which evolved into 1989's The Travelling Wilbury's Vol I, an album with huge success that won them a grammy. Consisting of Lynne, Harrison, Petty, Orbison, and Bob Dylan, the Willbury's were tentatively talking about plans for a huge tour when Roy Orbison suddenly died.
In 1990 Lynne produced his own solo album, "Armchair Theatre", which gave him radioplay with 'Every Little Thing', and contained some great cover versions of 'Stormy Weather' and 'Don't Let Go'. Many of the instruments on the album were recorded at Jeff's home, in various rooms and produced a unique sound by the time it hit the mixing board. Next The Travelling Willbury's released Vol 3, minus the late Roy Orbison. Jeff moved on in 1992 to produce material by 'Miss B Haven' and another former Beatle, Ringo Starr.
By 1994 Jeff was approached to produce new Beatles material. "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love", two songs that evolved from demo tapes of the late John Lennon, were remastered and completed by the rest of the group. By late 1995 the first of the Beatle songs were released and were met with great enthusiasm by fans and skeptics alike. In 1996 the "Real Love" single came out with similar results, helping to catapult the Beatle's Anthology albums to multi-platinum and eventually causing the Beatle's to break their own world record for album sales. Also in 1996 Jeff Lynne won England's prestigious Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Services to British Music.
In 1996 Paul McCartney asked Jeff to help him produce his solo album Flaming Pie, which was nominated for a Grammy for best album 1997. In 1998 Jeff wrote a couple of songs along with girlfriend Rosie Vela for the soundtrack to Still Crazy. Within the next two years Jeff would look upon ELO with more interest and desire to have another go at an ELO album. In 2000 Jeff would finally obtain full creative ownership to the ELO name, and in November of that year he put the finishing touches on the excellently-mastered ELO retrospective Flashback. Flashback contained new material that Jeff recorded earlier in the year, as well as music digitally mastered from the original source tapings.
The biggest surprise of 2000 was revealed in the pages of Flashback and in a press-release: ELO would release its first album in 15 years in 2001, titled Zoom, and Jeff had completed 13 tracks for the album (and a number of bonus tracks are expected later). The first single from Zoom, "Alright", is released in May.
On April 20th, 2001 Jeff and ELO returned to the stage for a rare, intimate live performance on VH1 Storytellers. This marked Jeff's return to live stage since departing for an extensive studio career after 1987's Prince's Trust concert. This amazing event in Jeff & ELO history airs in June 2001 and heralds the release of Zoom
Jeff is 53 and is reported to be planning ELO's first world tour since 1981's Time Tour.
1996-2001 Julian West, with research from liner notes of albums, Billboard archives, UK Daily Express Newspaper, and various sites on the Web.