Electric Light Orchestra - Beatles Forever [Unreleased Double Album Version]Details

"Beatles Forever remains the band's greatest mystery. We only have tantalising hints as to how it sounded. Bev has described it as a slowish track with a Strawberry Fields Forever (that song again!) feel to it, and believes it would have been a huge hit single, a view shared by Kelly in an interview he gave to Hit Parader in 1983; 'The Beatles song is going to be a big hit single. It's one of those songs that you know is going to be a smash while you're working on it. You can't wait to get it finished so that people can hear it.' If it was so good then, why was it never put out originally, and why was it never picked up when Afterglow was released? The clue lies in the lyrics. All we at FTM know the chorus refrain; 'Beatles forever, Rolling Stones never.' Apparently, the lyrics partly consisted of Beatle song titles, so maybe at the time there were copyright problems. However, now that Jeff is on first name terms with both George Harrison and Ringo Starr, couldn't this have been sorted out in time for Afterglow? The rumour goes that out of all the Beatles titles that crop up, not one of them is a George Harrison song - potentially very embarrasing for the man who produced Cloud Nine - and hence the song is unlikely ever to appear. I guess we'll never know."
Andrew Whiteside (1993 - Face The Music fanzine #15)

"The original double album had... the still unreleased Beatles Forever."
Rob Caiger (January 10, 1996 alt.music.elo newsgroup)

"The reason [Beatles Forever is unreleased] is that Jeff thought it to be embarrassing to release such a song after having worked with George and Ringo. The chorus line of the about 5 minutes long track was: 'Beatles forever, Rolling Stones never...' with John, Paul, Ringo and George being mentioned and excerpts of The Beatles songs being played. Unfortunately no George Harrison track was included, which was possibly the reason Jeff didn't want to get it published! Kelly: 'The Beatles song is going to be a big hit single. It's one of those songs you know is going to be a smash while you're working on it. You can't wait to get it finished so that people can hear it.'"
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)
Editor's note: This information is slightly incorrect in that the chorus does not mention the Rolling Stones and the song does not play excerpts of Beatles songs, but rather mentions several Beatles song titles.

"Yes, I sang on [Beatles Forever]. I did my John Lennon take off. I remember it yeah, but it was one of many songs we worked on. I thought it was a daring thing for Jeff to do. I was doing a John Lennon take off on it, and I was saying 'Is that all right Jeff? Shall I do this?' That's the way it went, it was a Beatles take off as well as being called Beatles Forever. Obviously Jeff liked The Beatles he made reference to them in interviews and then there was that song Shangri-La which said, 'Faded like The Beatles on Hey Jude' which a marvellous, marvellous track, so you can tell Jeff likes The Beatles from that. I guess at the end of the day, Jeff probably didn't put it out because it didn't work the way he wanted to. I don't know if Jeff's rubbed my bit off or what!"
Dave Morgan (March 4, 1999 - King Of The Universe #8)

"It's just one I'd rather keep in the cupboard. [...] It's 'cause it's so fawning, y'know. It's so over the top, y'know. Um... maybe one day it'll come out. I'd like to sort of redo it or something."
Jeff Lynne (June 6, 2001 - Rockline)

"Next, a late spurt of enthusiasm had Jeff getting into Fairlights and drum machines, creating 20 new tracks for a proposed double set, Secret Messages. But CBS decided a double vinyl album wasn't practical in the early '80s oil crisis. Piqued, Jeff dumped songs like Hello Old Friend - a hymn to his hometown which some fans consider his finest song - and a tribute to the Fabs, Beatles Forever. (Jeff apparently resisted recent attempts to restore the LP to its original format.)"
Jim Irvin (August, 2001 - The Bullring Variations article in Mojo)

"Beatles Forever is still unreleased, as is a different edit of After All."
Rob Caiger (June 1, 2001 - Showdown mailing list)

"I doubt [Beatles Forever] will ever come out. It's a bit sycophantic (laughs). I wrote it as just a bit of fun. I had a song that I'd done, and I called it Beatles Forever as a working title and started to think what it would be about. It could be about their great harmony and beat, so I built this song out of it, and it was quite good. But it's kind of a bit too reverential. It's like, "All right, we get it, you like The Beatles.' (Laughs.)"
Jeff Lynne (January 2013 - Goldmine magazine)

"One song was a tribute to Jeff’s heroes, Beatles Forever. Shortly after it had been finished, bass guitarist Kelly Groucutt gave an interview in which he confidently predicted that it was going to be a major hit single, ‘one of those songs that you know is going to be a smash while you’re working on it.’ But it was never destined to be even a track on vinyl, tape, or CD, let alone a single, and there has been much speculation as to why it was kept in the can. A refrain of ‘Beatles forever, Rolling Stones never’ might have seemed a little derogatory to Mick Jagger’s group, while the lyrics verged on being an infringement of copyright as they were taken largely from Beatles lyrics. Jeff did not know the surviving Beatles personally at this time, although that would change within a few years. But as his closest working relationship would always be with George Harrison, it might have been embarrassing for him to note that all the lyrics and titles used in Beatles Forever were lifted from Lennon and McCartney compositions. Some years later, Jeff was asked about the chances of Secret Messages ever being released in the form in which it was originally intended, complete with Beatles Forever. Initially, he suggested that it all depended on whether the record company really wanted to release old stuff that it found lying around. Pressed further as to what he would have done if he had had the final say, he explained that some of his material had not been officially released because he had felt he could record it much better. Fans had ended up getting what he believed was the best he could do at the time."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

  • Running Time: 4:29 (approximate)
  • Record Date: 1982 or 1983
  • Record Location: Wisselord Studios, Hilversum, Holland
  • Written By: Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Bill Bottrell
  • Performed By: Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass, percussion, Oberheim DMS), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion), Richard Tandy (grand piano, synthesizer, electric piano, Oberheim DSX), Kelly Groucutt (bass)

  • Released On: Unreleased (bootlegged)