British band ELO marks 40th anniversary with live album, new songs

Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:40pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra, the British rock group that mixed electric guitars with classical cellos, violins and woodwind, are celebrating their 40th anniversary with new material and a slew of album re-issues.

The band had a string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s like "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic" and "Mr. Blue Sky." But by the late 1980s it had run its course, and Lynne had teamed up with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty to form another supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys.

Lynne and ELO mark the milestone of becoming a band with the never-before released "Electric Light Orchestra Live" with two new songs, and two reissues - ELO's "ZOOM" and Lynne's debut solo album "Armchair Theatre" (also with two new tracks) - all out on Tuesday.

Lynne, 65, talked to Reuters about the band's legacy, why there are no plans for touring, and old pals Petty, Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Q: Did you ever think you'd be celebrating ELO's 40th anniversary, and how special is it for you?

A: It's pretty special and a marvelous thing that my songs are still getting played after all these years. But it took me by surprise. It just sort of creeps up on you without you knowing, and when you try and think about where those 40 years went, it's hard to imagine.

Q: What can fans expect from the new releases?

A: Maybe some fans missed the albums the first time around, and "Armchair Theatre" is one of my favorite albums I did, including all the ELO ones. I love "Zoom" too, and they didn't get much of a look-in last time around, so it's a chance for fans to catch up. I'm very proud of the songs and the live one is great too - and I'm not a big fan of live albums usually.   Continued...

Rock greats Jeff Lynne (L) and Tom Petty play with Dhani Harrison (R), son of ex-Beatle George Harrison, at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York on March 15, 2004. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen