Here’s a list for you (in no particular order):
- Neil Finn
- Brian May
- Tom Jones
- Bryan Ferry
- Petula Clark
- David Essex
- Rod Stewart
- Andrea Corr
- Graham Nash
- Olivia Newton-John
- Dusty Springfield
- Trevor Horn
- Kylie Minogue
The thing that links all these people, aside from music, is that they have all been recipients of either an OBE, MBE or CBE.
Without wishing to denigrate any of the above, whom I have selected out from a long list of recipients, when you consider the length and success of the musical career of Jeff Lynne in comparison (as well as to others I could have mentioned), it almost beggars belief that Lynne has been overlooked for such an award.
Jeff Lynne was born in Shard End, Birmingham in 1947. By 1963 he was forming bands and playing guitar and within a few years of that he was mixing/producing music. This was before joining a band called The Nightriders, who later became the Idle Race, a band that achieved a cult following around Birmingham. Lynne however moved on in 1970 – in more ways than one – when he joined Roy Wood’s band, The Move.
Together with drummer Bev Bevan, Wood and Lynne would together become Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), with their first (and eponymous) album appearing in December 1971.
An album called ELO2 followed in 1973 but with little more success than the first album (two charting singles as opposed to one). A split within the band meant Roy Wood and others departing and form the band Wizzard, leaving Lynne and Bevan.
The split worked for both parties. As Wizzard moved into Glam Rock and Christmas song immortality, ELO albums and singles continued to appear steadily and reliably for the next ten years, with a couple of year gap before their final album, Balance of Power, in 1986.
During this time, ELO brought us Can’t Get It Out of My Head, Evil Woman, Strange Magic, Livin’ Thing, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone, Mr Blue Sky, Wild West Hero, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Shine a Little Love, The Diary of Horace Wimp, Don’t Bring Me Down, Confusion, Last Train to London, I’m Alive, Don’t Walk Away, Hold On Tight, Here is the News, Ticket to the Moon, Calling America – and – Xanadu, their only UK and multi-national number one; a duet with Olivia Newton-John AO, OBE.
By the time that ELO disbanded in 1986, Lynne was already moving on to studio work and writing for others, amongst them, Dave Edmunds, George Harrison, Agentha Faltskog (of ABBA fame), Duane Eddy, Del Shannon and Tom Petty. Much of this work over-lapped with the coming together of one of the most, if not the most, super of super-groups; The Traveling Wilburys.
The Traveling Wilburys consisted of Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. They produced two albums, co-produced by Lynne and Harrison, however the sad death of Roy Orbison led to the band being curtailed, although its members continued to work on separate projects in smaller groups.
In the 1990s, Lynne was called upon by George Harrison to assist The Beatles with their Anthology and produce the singles, Free as a Bird and Real Love. He also produced for McCartney and Starr individually.
Following George Harrison’s death in 2001, Lynne was heavily involved in the making of a Concert For George that took place at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002.
Lynne also has performing credits on album tracks performed by Tom Jones OBE and Hank Marvin, who turned an OBE down.
More recently, Lynne produced the 2015 album Get Up for Bryan Adams OC, OBC (too subtle, too much?).
Jeff Lynne is not entirely without awards. He has three Ivor Novello awards, has a Star on the Walk of Fame in Birmingham, as well as the one in Hollywood (he now lives in Beverly Hills). Lynne has just been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Musical Performance in a Talk Show/Morning Program”.
He has however yet to be inducted into either the Songwriters or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – although all his fellow Traveling Wilburys are all Hall of Famers in one or both.
Hopefully these oversights will be remedied sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, Jeff Lynne is touring again as Jeff Lynne’s ELO and I very much look forward to seeing him in April 2016.
Hopefully, in the not too distant future, Jeff Lynne will become at least an OBE and a musical Hall of Famer – as he must surely deserve to be both for his outstanding body of work and contribution to popular music.