Electric Light Orchestra
~ Jeff Lynne ~
April 20, 2001
VH1 Storytellers finally got around to doing an episode on The Electric Light Orchestra, and was kind enough to make some tickets available to the public. As you can probably tell, I was one of the fortunate fans to get picked to go, and on the spur of the moment, flew to New York City and became a part of music history.
What follows is an account of what I experienced on this Friday in April. Because so many other people have written their reports on what Jeff sang and how he sounded, I am going to write about my emotions, because *that* is what I don't ever want to forget.
I do want to say thank you to all the wonderful people I met while I was there. I can't express my gratitude enough to everyone that *took care of me*. It was great to see everyone watching out for each other and making sure that we all got what we needed in order to have an excellent night. My personal thanks go out to..........
· Julian West, for experiencing it ALL with me, and understanding each time I got *somewhat* hysterical.
· David Rizzo, for making me smile at myself and for making it difficult for me to stay "reserved"
· Woody from Cincinnati, for thinking of me and my hunger and for taking the time to introduce me to new music.
· Tim Malloy, for taking the pictures while I got us the autographs (and for helping me find a way to the front of the line)
· Corey Gomel, for the CDs and for the encouragement before and after the show
· Jerry Polovick and Jon Boba, for making me feel comfortable when I got there so early.
· Jeff (Geffer), for taking an interest in my opinions and making me feel at ease talking about my music obsessions
· Bill Claiborne, for saving me from having to ride in a cab alone and for sharing his gift from the stage
· To the guy that snuck into the front row that got me the stage notes at the end of the show.
· And a few more people that I am forgetting....I can see your face in my mind, but I can't put a name to it.......
· And of course Lynn Hoskins. A wonderful woman who made sure ALL of us had the information we needed, and who did more for our group than anyone expected her to.
Here are but a few of
the WONDERFUL people I met on my trip.
Are you ready for the story?
My day started out like most of the fans who got invited to go to the taping of this special event. It felt pretty much like any other day, except that I just got off of a 6 am flight and was getting dressed to go meet some strangers who knew *so* much more about Jeff Lynne than I did. I was feeling intimidated, to say the least. And still I never really thought much about where I would be at seven that very evening. It still didn't feel real.
I brought my dad with me to NY (can't be alone in a big city like that!), and we got to the restaurant quite a bit early, so we decided to walk around a little. Bad idea as most of the people who were with me that night can attest to....don't wear sandals in NY for prolonged periods of time. By this time I was in a bad mood and didn't even feel like going to the concert (imagine that!). But when I walked into the restaurant (2 hours early) and met fellow ELO fans Jerry and Jon, everything changed and my spirit got back into ELO.
Soon, with each new person that I met, a little bit of their enthusiasm became a part of me, and I was psyched! It was great to suddenly see someone remember that they were about to see Jeff, because their face would light up and they would get this huge grin on their face. No doubt I was one of them. I'd just be sitting there when it would dawn on me that *I am going to see this man that I adore*!!!
Still gives me shivers.............
The walk to the theater was eventful, as that's when I became the "Fan who drew blood for Jeff". Remember the sandals dilemma? Well, lets just reiterate that it is NOT a good idea to wear sandals for a long time in NY.
Julian and I were lucky enough to sit together, and I can't imagine anyone else that I would have enjoyed it with more. He made me feel comfortable gushing about Jeff, and got just as excited as I did when we thought of Jeff being so close to us. When Julian and I walked in, the lady that we were suppose to follow guided us up to the second row of the second tier of seats on the side! No way! We were NOT going to be sitting in that awful location. So we snuck our way into the 4th row dead center! It was perfect. The stage was ground level, and it was small. But that made things even more exciting because you had the feeling of intimacy and closeness with the performers. It was nice.......
After the stage managers gave us directions about what to do and how we should act, one by one the members came out. People were on their feet, and it was hard for me to see the musicians with my vertically challenged handicap <g> But there was no missing Jeff. He came out and all I remember thinking was how I thought his hair looked redder than I thought, and that he was, well, small. I pictured him being about 6 feet, broad shoulders, and carrying a commanding presence. (Apparently, as Julian informed me later, I was imagining Jeff to look as he did during his Traveling Wilbury days....and the way I am seeing him today is a healthier Jeff. I'll take that!) .
And yet seeing him up there, breaking into "Do Ya," I still didn't *feel* like I was witnessing a beautiful moment.
And as I had anticipated, I could barely understand him speaking with my Yankee ears. He has that mumbly deep voice that is hard to hear. And then add the Birmingham accent and you got yourself one difficult time trying to hear him tell his jokes <g> Although I always seemed to hear him say those swear words..........
So here I was, clapping along to "Do Ya" and totally into the moment, but still not really getting as emotional as I thought. I thought I would be in tears the minute I saw him. I have been obsessed with this man for so long that I thought I would be one of those screaming, crying fans that were made so famous back in 1964.
But I wasn't. Until "Telephone Line."
There are no words that can describe how I felt when he started singing this song. And it's not even one of my favorites! But the way he sounded, and the acoustic sound of the instruments together with his clear voice....... cut right through my heart and put tears in my eyes. It was beautiful. THIS was the voice I fell in love with. THIS was the Jeff I go weak for. And when he would hit one of the high notes and drop down to a deeper note......I was in heaven. That song alone had me captivated and I literally had to wipe the tears away.
I can't remember much more about the songs and their effect on me. I just remember every now and again coming back to reality and realizing that I was sitting in front of this amazing man.
We gave standing ovations to each song, and I remember thinking "I wonder if Jeff can see me," so I tried to stay standing as long as I could. Pathetic? Of course not!
I also remember him announcing that he was going to play a song off of the new album, and when he said the title, everyone started screaming and clapping. He laughed and said something about us knowing it already and that the song must have sneaked out early. It was funny. Hehehehehe..............
Ready for the best part of the night?
Before the show Julian and I were trying to come up with some questions to ask him just in case we were allowed to during the show. It was a terribly difficult thing to do! And as I said earlier in this story, I felt unworthy of being with all these fans who knew every tiny little detail about Jeff. Sure I consider myself an obsessed fan, but my knowledge only goes so far. So here we are thinking of questions. I was so lucky to have Julian with me, because I knew that since he runs his own Jeff Lynne website, he would know if any of my questions were stupid. I came up with a few of them, including wanting to know what Shangri-La means to him in the song, "Shangri-La." I passed on that one because I wanted to ask a question that wasn't so specific to ME. And I know that lots of people usually ask about the inspiration behind the artwork on album covers, so I chose to go in that direction. All the while never thinking that I would be picked.
After one of the songs (I can't remember which one...most of the night is a blur), Jeff said he would take questions. So we ALL raised our hands. He picks someone. Someone in the front row. He answers the persons question and we all raise our hands again. This time Jeff says that he can't pick and asks the stage manager guy to do it. And...........
You guessed it! *I* was picked! I asked Jeff a question!!
Now, I have no idea what his answer was, but I do remember what he said to me to make me respond. The guy hands me the microphone and I could tell Julian was dying sitting next to me, praying for me not to mess up. I was so scared. I didn't even feel like I was standing up in front of all those people, with Jeff looking directly at me. I felt like I was out of my body. When I took the microphone I said thank you, but I couldn't hear myself, so I thought that no one else could either. But I knew that if I stopped to think about what was happening that I would stumble and make a fool of myself. So I pushed on.
Here is what I remember saying, "Thank you. And thank you, Jeff, for everything that you have given to me through your music." I still didn't think that anyone could hear me, when all of a sudden people started clapping! A rush of excitement went through me and I about died. I remember gesturing to the audience in a way that said "See we are all in agreement," and waited for the applause to die down before I asked my question. I have no idea what his facial responses were, and couldn't tell you half of what he said. All I was thinking of was "don't mess up!" After the applause faded, I said, "My question relates to an album cover; Face The Music. What's the story behind that one?"
He made some comments, and one was something about him not knowing which cover it was and asked us if it was the one with the execution chair on the cover (of course he was joking), and I remember (as I was still standing with the microphone) smiling and shaking my head at him and maybe saying "yes." He said something else funny and then said, "Yes I look at it everyday." Which then I responded with "As do we."
I couldn't believe what I was doing up there. I remember putting my arm behind my back because I thought that if I didn't I would lose my balance. Don't ask me why I thought that. Cut me some slack.....I was interacting with Jeff Lynne!
When Jeff finished answering my question I said thank you and handed the microphone back and sat down. Immediately I grabbed Julian and flipped. He was flipping out, too, so I am sure that we looked like a pair of crazed fans. Which, ummm.... we were. But we all were that day!
And that's what was so perfect about that night is that we all fit in! We didn't have to apologize for loving ELO. We didn't have to explain who they are or why it was so important for us to see Jeff that night. It was a magical night.......
Near the end of the show, Jeff and the others walked off stage and gave the impression that it was all over. Yeah right. Like we were going to fall for that one! But a few people in the second row left. So Julian and I grabbed their seats and stayed there for the next and final song. Sure it was only 4 feet closer than we were, but 4 feet is 4 feet!
After the real departure of Jeff, I knew I would see him again and I didn't get too emotional. I saw a few people go up to the stage area and started taking things from it. Well, I had to get myself in on all the action! One of the fans was taking the stage notes that Jeff used to keep track of the order of the songs he was going to sing and what he was going to say about each song. I asked him if he could get me one, too, and he fought off the others and made sure that the stage manager gave it to me and not to any of the other hungry hands that suddenly appeared. I don't remember his name, but that fan made me extremely happy!
Julian, Andrew, and Me with the Stage Notes that we were able to "obtain" off of the floor.
Here are my Notes close up...........I personally think that he knew I was going to be the one to get this paper and so in his explanation about who inspired Moment in Paradise, well, I think it was ME!
We all eventually got pushed outside as the crew began the clean up. We all still had a great amount of hope that Jeff would come greet us and sign a few autographs. Of course the guards all played dumb and loved to keep us guessing. It's all part of their job.
At one point Rosie (his girlfriend and performer) came out and signed a few autographs. I remember someone asking her to tell Jeff to come out, and she said that she would try and see what she could do. What better influence over a man than a woman right? (well, not that *I* would know......)
A picture of Rosie signing autographs after the show
When we got word that sure enough, Jeff would come out and sign autographs, we all rushed to the gate and tried to get in front. I would like to say, that even though there were a few fans that were not "team" players and seemed to make the experience a little aggravating, most of us made sure that we all got what we needed signed and we all got photo opportunities. I was with a great bunch of guys, that I have to say were the kindest men I have ever met. That's one of the things I will remember most about that trip.
Oh, that and the fact that Jeff Lynne Yelled at me! Yes he did. Well, not directly, but it felt like it. Here's what happened......
I got my turn to be the next in line for autographs. I got the two that I needed for me and Tim, and tried to get some for other people who were still in the back. When I was finished, I tried to move so that I could let some other people get up close. I had my chance and I wanted someone else to have what I did. But no one would let me move! So....I kind of just stood there.
Standing there with my camera in my hand.....
I can be quick sometimes and every now and again I have a good *intellectual* moment. This particular moment I decided that it might be a good idea to take a few pictures. So there I was taking about 3 or 4 pictures, with the flash on, when I suddenly hear Jeff say to the guy next to him "Too close." The guy turns to the crowd, not singling out anyone in particular, and says "Ok folks you're getting a little too close now, especially up close with the flashes."
I felt so bad, but hey.....Jeff isn't going to remember me as being the one that blinded him (sounds like a good song....Blinded By Kimberly's Light), and I got some good pictures out of it, so I decided to forget the comment and go on loving him and his music and being a die-hard fan!
And now for the pictures you have all been waiting for!
(The above picture was kindly provided by Bob Dunn. You can link to his site below....)
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the story! I know that the pictures are pretty bright, but I did the best I could without making them too dark. In a couple of the pictures I can see a little smile, which makes me know that he was posing for the picture. I KNOW at one point he waited to look away from me until I had taken the picture. What a guy.
It was a truly magical night. I was blessed the entire time.
~* Thank you, Jeff, for all that you have given to me through your music *~
Go to Rosie Vela's Site: Click Here!