Jeff Lynne Recalls Witnessing 1968 Beatles Sessions


ELO's Jeff Lynne recalled the first time he laid eyes on the Beatles in a recording studio, during the sessions for the band's 1968 “White Album.” While talking to The Sun, Lynne, who was recording at Abbey Road with his early band, the Idle Race, said he was able to watch his heroes up close and personal on October 10th, 1968.

Lynne, who went on to produce the two 1995 Beatles reunion tracks, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” remembered seeing the band at work: “Through the window into Studio One, I could see Paul (McCartney) on the mic and Ringo (Starr) giving him the starting note of 'Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?' Then I looked into Studio Two and there was (producer) George Martin diving around the room, conducting about 12 cellos for 'Glass Onion.' I couldn’t sleep for nights afterwards. The Beatles were my heroes, the heroes of all of us.”

In the liner notes to the new archive edition of his 1997 Flaming Pie album, which Jeff Lynne co-produced, Paul McCartney sang Lynne's praises explaining, “I knew he made good records and I enjoyed working on (the Beatles' reunion track) 'Free As A Bird' with him. He’s a fun guy and we share a similar school of thought. He’s good on harmonies and precise with his production. You don’t get too many rough edges.”

He went on to say, “Despite the success of the Beatles, none of us could ever read or write a note of music. And Jeff was the same. He quite rightly said, 'We just make it all up, don’t we?' And that’s it. That’s our skill. Obviously, we work like mad. We put in our 10,000 hours — and that’s the equivalent of going to the Berklee School of Music.”

Back in 1968, upon the release of the “White Album,” Paul McCartney spoke about how the then-new double album showed the Beatles' artistic progress: “It is another step — y'know, but it's not necessarily in the way people expected. Uh, on Sgt. Pepper, we, we had more instruments. . . instrumentation than we ever had, more orchestral stuff than we ever used before, so it was more of a production. We tried to play more like a band this time, only using instruments when we had to instead of using them for the fun of it.”

Jeff Lynne broke down exactly what the Electric Light Orchestra means in purely musical terms — and — not surprisingly — it sounds like someone describing the “Fab Four's” classic works: “You've got your rock n' roll, harmony, classical bits, stick 'em all together — and what've you got? You've got ELO. I knew kinda what I wanted to do, I didn't know how to go about it. It was only when I started realizing — 'Hang on. Instead of just using two cellos and one violin, I just wanted to see what it was like to have big stuff instead of just little stuff all the time. (It's) kinda symphonic. I mean, it's kinda poppy, as well. It's 'classical pop' they always used to call it. And that's what I sort of, think it is, too.”

Jeff Lynne On ELO Being Classical Pop :

Paul McCartney On The Production Of The ‘White Album’ :