The Legendary Group John Lennon Called ‘Son of Beatles’

Since the Beatles broke up, many music fans have wondered what would have happened if they stayed together. John Lennon had an idea of what they would have sounded like if they kept making music. Surprisingly, he pointed to another famous British band as sounding like a continuation of the Beatles.

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and John Lennon in 1963 | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The British band the Beatles would have resembled

Electric Light Orchestra, commonly known as ELO, was one of the most popular British bands of the 1970s. Many critics compared ELO to the Beatles. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, John said he said they were “a nice group. … I call them ‘Son of Beatles.’ … I remember a statement they made when they first formed was to carry on from where the Beatles left off … and they certainly did.”

In an interview with Loudersound, ELO founder Jeff Lynne was asked about this comment. “Oh yeah. I was shocked when he said it. I’ve actually got a recording of him saying that.”

Lynne recalled that John “was a guest DJ on an American radio show in New York, and he said: ‘Nice little group, these. I love this group.’ He got talking about [our song] “Showdown,” and said: ‘I thought this would be Number One, but [label] United Artists never got their fingers out.’ It was fantastic.”

“Showdown” by the Electric Light Orchestra

Jeff Lynne was there when the Beatles recorded a classic track

When asked if he was a Beatles fan, Lynne said “Right from the start. Please Please Me turned me on to them and I became a really great fan. I’ve had lots of luck when it comes to the Beatles.”

He added “When I was recording with the Idle Race in London in 1968, a friend of our engineer phoned the studio to say he was working on a Beatles session at Abbey Road. He told us we could go down there to have a look if we wanted. Maybe it was only me who went in the end, but I saw Paul and Ringo in Studio 3, doing a piano and vocal.”

He added “Then I got invited into Studio 2, where John and George were in the control room. Down below, in the actual studio, George Martin was hurling himself around this pedestal, conducting the string section for ‘Glass Onion.’” “Glass Onion” has one of the most haunting string sections in the Beatles’ catalogue, so it was certainly an honor for Lynne to be there.

Jeff Lynne’s disappointment and triumph

The Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Lynne recalled more details of his experience. “I was blown away. Nobody had heard it yet, but there I was in Abbey Road, actually listening to it being made. I stayed for maybe half an hour, then I thought it would be polite to leave, because you feel a bit of a dick in that company. So I went back to where the Idle Race were recording and, of course, it didn’t sound quite so good.”

Lynne’s admiration for the Beatles eventually evolved into a collaboration of sorts. AllMusic says he worked on the Fab Four’s track “Free as a Bird.” The same publication says that song was released as a single in the 1990s. Since John said the Beatles would have evolved into a band like ELO, Lynne was a perfect choice for the track.

Also see: Beatles: Why You Never Got to Hear Their Lost Song ‘Carnival of Light’