Roll Over Beethoven

 

Electric Light Orchestra -- Roll Over Beethoven

An in-depth song analysis


  • Record Date: September 8, 1972
  • Record Location: AIR Studios, London, UK
  • Written By: Chuck Berry
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: John Middleton & Denny Bridges
  • Performed By: Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar, moog synthesizer, harmonium), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion), Wilf Gibson (violin), Mike Edwards (cello), Colin Walker (cello), Michael De Albuquerque (bass, vocal harmonies), Richard Tandy (moog synthesizer, piano, guitar, harmonium, vocal harmonies)

  • Initially Released On: Roll Over Beethoven single (UK; January 12, 1973)
  • Comments and Observations

    The basic track for Roll Over Beethoven was recorded at AIR Studios in the UK on September 8, 1972. It is uncertain when the vocals and strings were recorded, although it's very possible they were recorded the same day or even the same time. It is significant in that it is the only hit for the Electric Light Orchestra that was not written by Jeff Lynne. While not a huge hit, it is also significant in that it was the song that broke the band in America and started the band to the path of worldwide success.

    Chuck BerryWhy Record a Cover Song?: Although not a Jeff Lynne composition, the decision to record the song was almost inevitable. In the early days, the band was trying to define themselves as a rock band with classical instruments as a key part of the band. Thus traditional rock 'n' roll songs such as Jerry Lee Lewis' 1957 hit Great Balls Of Fire and Chuck Berry's 1956 hit Roll Over Beethoven were incorporated into the live set, with Roll Over Beethoven being a natural choice due to the classically tinged play on words in the song's lyrics. It was an absurd idea to mix the strings into such a rock 'n' roll classic, but the band felt it was natural and necessary to help define what they were trying to do. Just three months prior to the song's recording, Roy Wood left the band and the band had since quickly adopted the song as their encore number in their UK live performances. On stage, they were experimenting with the song and often used selections from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to open the song, before finally settling on the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with its distinctive and well-known four-note motif intro which they would use in the studio recording. This four-note motif is used several times on several instruments throughout the instrumental breaks in the song. There are no known recordings of the earlier incarnation on the song before the September 1972 studio recording.

    The Studio Recording: Several members of the band were able to contribute to the arrangement of the song. Jeff Lynne was the band leader and it was his decision as to how the songs were arranged and produced, however in these early days of the band he was certainly open to the other band members' contributions. Michael De Albuquerque arranged his own bass parts and violinist Wilf Gibson contributed some (if not all) of his own violin arrangements and "the instrumental break which leads into the violin solo" (Wilf's own words). Jeff himself is credited with deliberately using a cheap microphone to record the vocals in an attempt to give them a rough, early rock 'n' roll sound. He also notably sings them in a raw voice, often slurring the lyrics in what is believed to also be an intentional effort to give the song an early rock sound. However, he has also been quoted in the late 1970s as saying he doesn't really like how the vocals turned out. Curiously, the studio recording uses no backing vocals at all and uses harmony vocals only on the repeated ending parts.

    Beatles Canadian issued Roll Over Beethoven singleDue to the recording process, the vocals were the last part recorded. When it came time for them to be recorded, the band realized that they didn't really know the lyrics! (Curiously, Jeff claims that on stage, before the studio recording of the song, he just made up the words as they performed it.) Needing the lyrics fast, the band called up Heavyhead Records, the record store that Bev Bevan owned in Birmingham with Ronny Smith (of Ronny and the Senators fame) for assistance. Most sources claim that someone at the store played the record and transcribed the lyrics for the band over the phone. Ronny Smith claims that it was him on the other end of the phone and he didn't play a record, but gave them the lyrics from memory. Either way, due to this rather primitive effort, several of the lyrics are incorrect, including the lines "need a shot of rhythm and blues" (from the third verse) instead of the correct "the jukebox's blowin' a fuse" (second verse); "a-singin' that rhythm and blues" instead of the correct "and my soul keeps a-singin' the blues" (also second verse); and "Go for cover and reel and rock it, roll it over" instead of the correct "...a trifle further then reel and rock with one another" (third/fourth verse). A few other minor lyrics were changed ("groove on up now" rather than "move on up now") and the third verse (beginning "I got the rockin' pneumonia") is completely absent from the ELO recording (except where the "I need a shot of rhythm and blues" line is used in the second verse), thus making the normal fourth verse (beginning "Well, early in the morning...") the third verse in their recording. It's also interesting that the version provided over the phone may have been the Beatles version of the song, rather than Chuck Berry's version, because some of the lyrics are closer to the Beatles recording, rather than Chuck Berry's. One example of this is the line "the music won't never stop" from the Chuck Berry version is changed to the line "the music will never stop" on both the Beatles and ELO versions.

    In various releases as a bonus track, there exists a "Take 1" version of the song that follows the basic extended album version of the song, complete with multitracked string parts and unprocessed vocals; however it also includes Jeff and Bev making "goon show" style vocal imitations of the string intro and other string parts later in the song. It's interesting to note that on all non-"Take 1" releases of the song, just after the final vocal line, a very short snippet of Jeff's vocal antics from this "Take 1" recording can be heard. In the "Take 1" recording, just after the final "Roll over Beethoven" lyric, Jeff says "C'mon, Ludwig!" On all the non-"Take 1" releases, a very brief snippet of this "C'mon" line is heard but it is quickly cut out. Obviously a studio engineer wasn't quite fast enough on the knob and left this little bit in which still survives to this day! An example of this can be heard HERE where the first part is taken from the "Take 1" recording and the second part is taken from the 2006 ELO II remaster CD. Listen very closely for the half a second bit in the second recording.

    UK ad for Roll Over BeethovenGeorge Martin Gives His Approval: AIR Studios, where the song was recorded, was owned at the time by famed Beatles producer, George Martin. When Roll Over Beethoven was being recorded, he happened to be in a neighboring studio recording the orchestra for Paul McCartney's Live And Let Die. He was invited to listen to the band's just recorded version of the song-- a song that he had produced for the Beatles 10 years prior on their With The Beatles album-- and he nodded his approval and stated: "I think you've got a hit there chaps." This must have pleased Jeff Lynne and the band as they were known to be big Beatles fans with Jeff Lynne in particular idolizing the band. Some stories of this incident also say that Paul McCartney was in the neighboring studio as well, but there is no mention of him coming to listen with George Martin.

    The Releases and the Charts: Roll Over Beethoven was first released as an edited single (Harvest HAR 5063) on January 12, 1973 in the UK with Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) from the Electric Light Orchestra album on the B-side. It was released later that month in the UK on the ELO 2 album as the last track on side 1. Rumor has it that the single was quickly recalled (although this remains unconfirmed) and reissued with the same catalog number but Queen Of The Hours from the Electric Light Orchestra album on the B-side instead. Thus there are two versions of this single commonly available in the collector market, although neither is any more rare than the other. On January 27, the song entered the UK Singles Chart Top 50 and it peaked at #6 on February 17 for one week only for a run of 10 weeks on the chart.

    In the US, the edited single was released in February, 1973 (United Artists UA-XW 173-W) with Queen Of The Hours from the No Answer (as it was called in the US) album on the B-side. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on April 28, 1973 and peaked at #42 on July 28, 1973 with a total run of 16 weeks on the chart. It also entered the alternate Cash Box chart on May 19, 1973 and peaked at #48 on July 21, 1973 and August 11, 1973 (falling during the two weeks between) for a total run of 14 weeks on the chart. It was ELO's first entry into the USA charts. It failed to crack the all-important Top 40 chart; nevertheless it was a popular underground hit and still enjoys radio airplay today, more so than even some of ELO's Top 10 hits.

    For several reasons, there exist several different edits of Roll Over Beethoven. The singles featured an edited version of the song, having been edited down to 4:32 from the full album version. There are, in fact, two "full" album versions. The UK ELO 2 album featured a 7:03 version and the USA Electric Light Orchestra II album features a longer 8:11 version. Currently, according to Jeff Lynne, the 7:03 version which was originally released only in the UK and Japan, is the correct version of the song as he had intended to release. It was through a series of mistakes by United Artists (supposedly), in a rush to release the music, that all other territories mistakenly released the 8:11 version (as well as the album being mistakenly retitled as Electric Light Orchestra II and using the wrong artwork). With the 2006 remaster of the album from Sony, the correct 7:03 version was finally released worldwide (although in this instance they again mistakenly renamed the album as ELO II). This idea that the 8:11 version is the incorrect version didn't actually surface until the 2006 remaster, so the idea may also be a bit of revisionist history. The 8:11 version has turned up on the original Harvest ELO 2 Germany LP, early issues of the USA Olι ELO LP and several European Harvest compilation albums. It also appeared on the Jeff Lynne compiled 2000 Flashback compilation (sans the harmonium intro). There appears to have been several opportunities to correct any mistake over the years, both by EMI and Jeff Lynne; so this leaves doubt about it being solely a United Artists mistake and it is likely a more recent attempt to make the 7:03 version the preferred and definitive version by declaring the 8:11 version an error. Through several promo releases and reissues on compilation albums, several more edits also exist.

    A note about the release of the song on the Olι ELO album in the US on United Artists (UA-LA 630-G)-- early issues of this LP as well as the promos for it featured the full 8:11 version of Roll Over Beethoven. However at some point in the 1970s, the LP was silently repressed using the same catalog number with the edited single version instead. No matter which pressing of the LP, the cover always indicates the full 8:11 running time and there is no other discernable markings on the cover to determine the pressing. The only way to know is to visibly examine the length of the groove on the record and/or to play it. Also of note, the version of Kuiama on this LP had a similar occurrence with early pressings featuring the full 11:19 version, then later pressings and all reissues featuring a unique 9:11 edit.

    The rock band with the big fiddlesPromotion and the Public Reaction: Although the song was never a big chart success for the band, it was a breakout hit in the US, introducing the band and their concept. The band had their first tour of the US and made several prominent TV appearances on American Bandstand and The Midnight Special, which brought them much public attention, seeing a long-haired rock 'n' roll band in tuxedos playing with "the big fiddles" (as many critics referred to them) on stage belting out Chuck Berry rock 'n' roll music. It was all very strange and different and it may be this that brought the band more attention than the music itself, thus the song was never a big chart success.

    The song was quickly adopted as the Electric Light Orchestra concert closing/encore song and it was used to close every single show from 1972 to 2001. It's not entirely clear why this song, a non-Jeff Lynne song, was chosen for such an honor. However it was probably chosen originally because it so well defined what the ELO concept was about (fusion of classical instruments in a rock band) and it was a well known and rousing rock 'n' roll number that could easily get the crowd on their feet. Over time, although ELO went on to have much bigger hits with other songs, some equally as rousing, it probably just became a tradition to always close the show with the song, no matter what. There were several different arrangements used on the various tours; however the arrangement first used on the 1975 Eldorado tour, which replaced much of the song with an extended jam session, became the most common live arrangement (with a few very slight variations from tour to tour as described below).

    Promotional image of Beethoven showing his displeasureTo help promote the single and the band, United Artists also developed a rather amusing drawing of an image of Ludwig van Beethoven with a very dour expression and his fingers jammed in his ears, as if he strongly objected to the music and was "rolling over in his grave" (from the English language idiom from which the song was derived). This image is still used today in some ELO promotional material.

    Bend Over Beethoven B-sideMiscellany: Also of note, ELO cellist Hugh McDowell wrote a rather audacious send up, at least in title, of Roll Over Beethoven entitled Bend Over Beethoven (and subtitled "The Official Follow Up To California Man!") that appeared on the B-side of the May 1973 Wizzard single, See My Baby Jive. Hugh was a member of ELO in 1972 when they were touring in support of the first album. When Roy Wood left in July 1972 to form Wizzard, Hugh left to join this new band. Shortly after Roll Over Beethoven's release in the UK, Hugh wrote the Bend Over Beethoven song (although rumor has it that Roy actually wrote it and gave the writing credit to Hugh). Other than the title similarities, the songs have no relation, with Bend Over Beethoven being a jazz influenced song. Although today the various band members attribute this song as a fun joke only, one has to wonder if it wasn't much more mean spirited at the time. Roy's (and Hugh's) defection from the Electric Light Orchestra was still quite a sore subject for the various players and they didn't like to talk about it at the time. And the subtitle ("The Official Follow Up...") on the record appears to be a major jab at the success of Roll Over Beethoven. Obviously ELO forgave any hard feelings because they allowed Hugh to join the band again in late 1973 (when they were apparently hard up for a cellist after Colin Walker left).

    Jeff Lynne states that he once crossed paths with the songwriter, Chuck Berry, but he did not approach or speak to him for fear that he would not have approved of what his band did with the song.

    ELO gave a nod to Roll Over Beethoven in their 1983 on song Rock 'n' Roll Is King with the lyric "she rolled over Beethoven and she gave Tchaikovsky back." They also gave a nod of sorts in the 1976 song Rockaria! with the lyric "and the orchestra were playing all Chuck Berry's greatest tunes."

    Structure and Lyrics

    Below is the structure of the complete version of the song as it was released on the original UK ELO 2 album. Also included are the original Chuck Berry lyrics for comparison.

    Electric Light Orchestra
    Chuck Berry
    Lyric sheet from USA Electric Light Orchestra II album
    -Intro
       Mellotron intro
       Beethoven's Fifth intro part #1
       Beethoven's Fifth intro part #2 (with bass guitar)
       Guitar intro
    -Verse 1
       Gonna write a little letter, gonna mail it to my local DJ
       A-listen to the little record I want my jockey to play
       Well, roll over Beethoven, gotta hear it again today

    -Verse 2
       You know, my temperature's risin', need a shot of rhythm and blues
       Well, my heart's beatin' a rhythm, a-singin' that rhythm and blues -- Wooh!
       Roll over Beethoven, rockin' in two by two

    -Chorus 1
       Well, if you're feelin' like it, go get your lover, and a-reel and rock it
       Roll it over and a-groove on up now, go for cover and reel and rock it
       Roll it over, roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news -- Woohoo!

    -Instrumental Bridge 1
       Descending guitar and strings riff
       Keyboard bridge part #3
       Keyboard bridge part #4
       Ascending string riff
       Violin solo part #1
       Violin solo part #2
       Guitar solo
       Ascending keyboard riff
    -Verse 3
       Well, early in the mornin' I'm a-givin' you the warnin', don't you step on my blue suede shoes
       Ah, hey, diddle diddle, gonna play my fiddle, I ain't got nothin' to lose
       Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news

    -Verse 4
       Well, she wiggle like a glow worm ,she dance like a spinnin' top
       Yeah, she got a crazy partner, you shoulda seen her reel and rock -- Wooh!
       Long as she got a dime, the music will never stop

    -Chorus 2
       Well, if you're feelin' like it, go get your lover, and a-reel and rock it
       Roll it over and then groove on up now, go for cover and you reel and rock it
       Roll it over, roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues

    -Instrumental Bridge 2
       Descending guitar and strings riff
       Keyboard bridge part #3
       Keyboard bridge part #4
       Ascending string riff Ah!
       Piano solo
       Guitar solo
       Ascending keyboard riff
    -Repeat Ending 1
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven -- Wooh!
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues

    -Repeat Ending 2
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven -- Wooh!
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues

    -Repeat Ending 3
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven
       Roll over Beethoven

    -Beethoven's Fifth closing
    -Intro
       Guitar intro
    -Verse 1
       Well, I'm a write a little letter, I'm gonna mail it to my local DJ
       Yeah, it's a jumpin' little record, I want my jockey to play
       Roll Over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today

    -Verse 2
       You know, my temperature's risin', the jukebox's blowin' a fuse
       My heart's beatin' rhythm, and my soul keeps a-singin' the blues
       Roll Over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news

    -Verse 3
       I got the rockin' pneumonia, I need a shot of rhythm and blues
       I caught the rollin' arthiritis, sittin' down at a rhythm review
       Roll Over Beethoven, they're rockin' in two by two

    -Guitar Bridge
       Guitar solo
    -Chorus 1
       Well, if you feelin' like it, go get your lover, then reel and rock it
       Roll it over then move on up just, a trifle further then reel and rock with one another
       Roll Over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues

    -Verse 4
       Well, early in the mornin' I'm a-givin' you my warnin', don't you step on my blue suede shoes
       Hey diddle diddle, I'm a play my fiddle, ain't got nothin' to lose
       Roll Over Beethoven, tell Tschaikowsky the news

    -Verse 5
       You know she wiggle like a glow worm, dance like a spinnin' top
       She got a crazy partner, ya oughta see 'em reel and rock
       Long as she got a dime the music wont never stop

    -Repeated Ending
       Roll Over Beethoven
       Roll Over Beethoven
       Roll Over Beethoven
       Roll Over Beethoven
       Roll Over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues

    Original Lyric Sheet from Electric Light Orchestra II

    Variations

    There are thirteen known non-live variations of the original studio recording of Roll Over Beethoven. They are:

    - Standard ELO 2 Album Version
    - Extended Electric Light Orchestra II Album Version
    - Edited Flashback Version
    - Quadraphonic Mix (Unreleased)
    - Stereo Mixdown of Quadraphonic Mix (Unreleased)
    - Take 1
    - Edited Single Version
    - Edited USA Mono Single Version
    - Edited USA Promo Single Version
    - Edited USA Promo Mono Single Version
    - Edited Monument Of British Rock Version
    - Edited 18 Greatest Hits LP Version
    - Alternate Instrumental Mix

    The variations can be broken into two basic categories: the album version variations and the single version variations. The 7 minute and 3 second album version, as prepared by the band for the ELO 2 LP, is the standard on which this analysis is based. It is this version that the band intended for the album. However, in error, all territories other than the UK and Japan released an earlier, extended mix that includes additional instrumentation on the instrumental bridges. There is an unreleased quadraphonic mix (of which the stereo mixdown has been bootlegged) which is the same edit as the 7:03 album version. The version that appeared on the 2000 Flashback collection is the extended album version, but is missing the mellotron intro. The 2006 remaster CD of the Electric Light Orchestra II album in the US (this time titled ELO II) did not use the extended album version; rather it used the standard 7:03 album version. Thus a remaster of the full extended album version does not exist but can be reconstructed by using the mellotron intro from the remastered ELO II CD and the remastered Flashback version. Finally, the Take 1 version uses the extended album version edit, which is the same take, but it is a rough mix without any effects on the vocals as exist on the final version. It also includes the band acting up and vocally imitating the strings behind the music as well as the take announcement and some studio chatter before and after the song. It is also missing the mellotron intro and the second part of the violin solo is a completely different solo.

    A Monument To British Rock: 20 Rock/Pop Classics From EMI - Vol 1The single version variations are based upon a single edit prepared for all territories. This single version is an edit of the album version, where the mellotron intro and the second Beethoven's Fifth sequences are cut from the intro; large chunks of the first instrumental bridge are cut; the entire second chorus is cut; and the second instrumental bridge except the guitar solo are cut. This single version served as the basis for several other edits. These include a promo edit, available only on a yellow label USA promo single, where the fourth verse and the guitar solo from the second instrumental bridge are also cut. Another edit of the single version includes a version that appeared as the first track on the 1979 A Monument To British Rock: 20 Rock/Pop Classics From EMI - Vol 1 various artists LP (EMI EMTV 17) where the first section of the repeated ending is also cut. And another such edit appeared on the 1984 Australian 18 Greatest Hits LP (K-tel NA 674) where the violin solo from the first instrumental bridge, the guitar solo from the second instrumental bridge, and the first section of the repeated ending are also cut. In addition, there is an instrumental version, available only on the 2005 Harvest Showdown CD as a hidden track attached to the end of the Until Your Moma's Gone track. It is a straight instrumental of the single edit, however it is mono only. Finally, there are simple mono mixdowns of the stereo single version and the stereo promo single versions that appeared on the flipside of the two USA promo singles.

    Song Section Lyric/Part Standard ELO 2 Album Release Extended Electric Light Orchestra II Album Version Edited Flashback Version Quadraphonic Mix
    Stereo Mixdown of Quadraphonic Mix
    Take 1 Edited Single Version
    Edited Mono Single Version
    Edited Promo Single Version
    Edited Mono Promo Single Version
    Edited Monument Of British Rock LP Version 18 Greatest Hits LP Version Alternate Instrumental Mix
    Pre-Song talking Take 1 announcement and count-in
    -
    -
    -
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Intro Mellotron intro
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Beethoven's Fifth intro part #1
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Beethoven's Fifth intro part #2 (with bass guitar)
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Guitar intro
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Verse 1 Gonna write a little letter, gonna mail it to my local DJ
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    A-listen to the little record I want my jockey to play
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Well, roll over Beethoven, gotta hear it again today
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Verse 2 You know, my temperature's risin', need a shot of rhythm and blues
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Well, my heart's beatin' a rhythm, a-singin' that rhythm and blues -- Wooh!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven, rockin' in two by two
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Chorus 1 Well, if you're feelin' like it, go get your lover, and a-reel and rock it
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll it over and a-groove on up now, go for cover and reel and rock it
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll it over, roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news -- Woohoo!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Instrumental Bridge 1 Descending guitar and strings riff
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Keyboard bridge part #1
    -
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #2
    -
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #3
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #4
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Ascending string riff
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    Violin solo part #1
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    Violin solo part #2
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but a different violin solo
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    Piano solo
    -
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Guitar solo
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Ascending keyboard riff
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Verse 3 Well, early in the mornin' I'm a-givin' you the warnin', don't you step on my blue suede shoes
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but the "Well" part is edited out
    YES, but the "Well" part is edited out
    YES, but the "Well" part is edited out
    YES, but the "Well" part is edited out
    YES, but without vocals
    Ah, hey, diddle diddle, gonna play my fiddle, I ain't got nothin' to lose
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Verse 4 Well, she wiggle like a glow worm, she dance like a spinnin' top
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Yeah, she got a crazy partner, you shoulda seen her reel and rock -- Wooh!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Long as she got a dime, the music will never stop
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Chorus 2 Well, if you're feelin' like it, go get your lover, and a-reel and rock it
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Roll it over and then groove on up now, go for cover and you reel and rock it
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Roll it over, roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Instrumental Bridge 2 Descending guitar and strings riff
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #1
    -
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #2
    -
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #3
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Keyboard bridge part #4
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Ascending string riff Ah!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Piano solo
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Guitar solo
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    YES
    Ascending keyboard riff
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Repeat Ending 1 Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven -- Wooh!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    YES, but without vocals
    Repeat Ending 2 Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven -- Wooh!
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven, diggin' in the rhythm and blues
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Repeat Ending 3 Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Roll over Beethoven
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but without vocals
    Closing Beethoven's Fifth closing
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES, but with "goon show" talk behind the strings
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    YES
    Post-Song talking Studio chatter, including "Very nice" (in falsetto), "Hot dog!" and "Oh, it's beautiful"
    -
    -
    -
    -
    YES
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -

    Music Charts

    These are the known statistics for the various countries' music charts. If you can fill in the missing information or know of charting information in other countries, please let me know at the email address listed at the bottom of this page.

    Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
    UK Official Top 50 Chart Entry Date: January 27, 1973
    28
    17
    10
    6
    (February 17, 1973)
    8
    15
    21
    35
    50
    48
    USA Billboard Hot 100 Chart Entry Date: April 28, 1973
    90
    85
    78
    74
    66
    65
    100
    79
    59
    54
    52
    50
    44
    42
    (July 28, 1973)
    57
    65
    USA Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart Entry Date: May 19, 1973
    87
    82
    73
    68
    64
    61
    58
    54
    50
    48
    (July 21, 1973)
    52
    49
    48
    (August 11, 1973)
    50
    Australia Go-Set Top 40 Singles Chart Entry Date: May 12, 1973
    33
    (week of May 12, 1973)
    Germany Top 50 Singles Chart Entry Date: March 19, 1973
    33
    50
    43
    41
    22
    (week of April 16, 1973)
    Holland Top 30 Singles Chart Entry Date: January 13, 1973
    Note, these charts were on a three week cycle at this time.
    28
    19
    (week of February 3, 1973)
    21
    27

    Releases

    Here are all the legitimate USA and UK releases of the song:

    Roll Over Beethoven (Standard Album Release)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Extended Album Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Take 1)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Single Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Mono Single Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Promo Single Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Promo Mono Single Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Monument Of British Rock Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited 18 Greatest Hits LP Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Flashback Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Quadraphonic Mix)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Stereo Mixdown of Quadraphonic Mix)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Alternate Instrumental Mix)

    Roll Over Beethoven (BBC November 1, 1972)

    Roll Over Beethoven (The Midnight Special - May 29, 1973)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Video Version)

    Roll Over Beethoven (BBC April 19, 1973)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Long Beach May 12, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Remix Version) (Long Beach May 12, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Szene '74 - October 11, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (The Midnight Special - November 25, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Eldorado Tour)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Winterland February 14, 1976)

    Roll Over Beethoven (London June 20, 1976)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Portsmouth June 22, 1976)

    Roll Over Beethoven (A New World Record Tour)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Wembley - June 1978)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Stereo Remix Wembley - June 1978)

    Roll Over Beethoven (5.1 Mix Wembley - June 1978)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Time Tour)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Heartbeat '86, March 15 1986)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Balance Of Power Tour)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Birmingham, April 23 1990)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Los Angeles, May 2001)

    Roll Over Beethoven (5.1 Mix - Los Angeles, May 2001)

    Tours

    Almost as soon as the song began being performed live by the band, it became their closing encore song at all shows. There were a few interesting variations in the early days, but by the Eldorado tour, the band settled into performing a specific arrangement of the song (with a few slight variations). This arrangement is mostly the ELO 2 version, with everything after the violin solo of the first instrumental break to the beginning of the repeated ending (which includes the third and fourth verses and the second chorus) is replaced by a long, improvised instrumental jam with guitar, piano and violin. There appears to be a lot of variation in this jam session from show to show, so clearly this was just an opportunity for the band to cut loose and have fun with the music. This live only arrangement that the band settled on is referred to here as the "live arrangement."

    In all performances, the mellotron intro was not included at all. It was probably the case that this intro was never really meant to be part of the song, but was just a between song interlude for the ELO 2 album. In the early days of the tour, the Beethoven's Fifth symphony intro was played by the cello players, however beginning with the Out Of The Blue tour, this intro was played on tape and the guitar starts at the appropriate time.

    Roll Over Beethoven was performed live by the band prior to the September 1972 studio recording, but there exists no known recording of this very early performance. These pre-studio recording performances are known to have lyrics that were made up on the spot and/or best guesses by Jeff Lynne because he did not know the actual lyrics. It was only after the September 1972 studio recording that he began singing the mostly correct lyrics.

    The earliest known live recording is a November 1972 recording for the BBC (released on The BBC Sessions (1999) and The Lost Planet (2003)) in which the band performs the song in full, including the parts missing on the UK ELO 2 album but included on the USA Electric Light Orchestra II album. (This also throws doubt on the idea that this extended version is the "wrong" version if the band was performing it at the time, although admittedly this performance is post-studio recording and pre-album/single release.) It's interesting to note that at this performance and all future live performances, Jeff corrected the incorrectly recorded lyrics from the second version ("Need a shot of rhythm and blues") to the correct "the juke box's blowin' a fuse." So clearly the lyrical error was discovered and corrected at a very early stage for the band. There also exists an April 1973 recording for the BBC in support of the ELO 2 album that was recorded at the Paris Cinema in London. This recording was released officially in 1999 on the Live At The BBC album (Eagle Records EAMCD097), although it has also appeared on numerous bootlegs in the years prior to this release. Curiously, this recording is a greatly shortened version of the song, missing the Beethoven's Fifth symphony intro (starting immediately with the guitar) and also everything inclusively between the third verse and the second instrumental break (thus connecting the first instrumental break to the repeated ending). All releases of this performance, bootleg or otherwise, have this same version and it's not entirely clear if this is the way the band performed it or it was edited. Audio evidence makes it appear to be an edit, but that remains unconfirmed. It is known that the band was not particularly proud of this performance, so perhaps they had the offending parts permanently excised before broadcast on the BBC.

    For the tours in support of the On The Third Day album, there are only two known recordings of which one is edited. From the complete bootleg performance, it appears that by this time, the band was performing the full ELO 2 version of the song (not the Electric Light Orchestra II extended version), with bassist Mike De Albuquerque singing lead on the choruses. In addition, a whirling piano part was inserted in the fourth verse following the "She dance like a spinnin' top" line. There was an officially released version of this song on the tour from the 1974 The Night The Light Went On In Long Beach album, however, it was edited such that the violin solos in the first instrumental break were cut, the second chorus was cut, and the first half of the second instrumental break (up to the piano solo) was cut. This performance was remastered and reissued on the parenthetically retitled 1985 The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach) album, but the rest of the second instrumental break (the piano and guitar solo) was also cut.

    The performances in support of the Eldorado album would present yet another arrangement that became the most common live arrangement. There are no official releases of any performance from this tour, but there exist three bootlegs which show the song's performance is fairly consistent. Most notable about this new arrangement used for this tour is that the second part of Beethoven's Fifth symphony intro was replaced by a performance of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (First Movement)-- a quiet, gentle piano and violin piece. Following this, the performance is as described above as the "live arrangement" but with Kelly Groucutt singing lead on the single chorus.

    The Face The Music, A New World Record, Out Of The Blue and Time tours are the standard live arrangement, but for a few minor changes. A December 1975 bootleg in London shows the band performing the same arrangement as from the Eldorado tour (with the Moonlight Sonata intro), but by February 1976, the band was using this same basic arrangement with the standard Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro. Starting with the Out Of The Blue tour performances, the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro was taped, rather than played by the band. And on the Out Of The Blue tour, only the first part was used. On the Time tour, both parts were used (although still played on tape rather than live). Official releases of performances from these tours include the February 14, 1976 show (numerous releases typically referred to as the "Winterland" show), the June 20, 1976 show on the Fusion Concert - Live In London 1990 VHS videotape, and the June 1978 show at Wembley (various releases). Curiously, several bootlegs exist during this period that show that on the first chorus, Kelly sometimes sings the original Chuck Berry lyric of "a trifle further..." and sometimes he sings the changed ELO lyric of "go for cover..." Thanks to video of the June 20, 1976 show, we see that cellist Melvyn Gale put down his cello during the jam portion and banged away on Bev's cymbals for a bit before jumping into Richard Tandy's keyboard den and played dueling pianos while back to back with Richard.

    The brief tour in support of the Balance Of Power album as well as the Heartbeat '86 concert used the same live arrangement, but Jeff sang the chorus as Kelly Groucutt was no longer with the band. The Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro was played on keyboard instead of taped. And interestingly, during the instrumental jam session, a short passage from the song Telstar was performed on keyboard by Richard Tandy as well. Also, in a strange mixup of lyrics, Jeff began singing the line "my soul keeps a-singin' the blues" from the second verse with the line "sittin' down by the rhythm review" from the third verse of the Beatles version of the song. This third verse was not used in the original Electric Light Orchestra studio recording of the song at all. And the line was sung as the Beatles had performed it on their With The Beatles album, rather than the original Chuck Berry lyric ("sittin' down at a rhythm review"). It's unclear why this odd change was made, but it is presumed that Jeff just mixed up the lyrics and was thinking of the Beatles recording while on stage.

    And finally, the performance from the aborted Zoom tour saw a significant change to the arrangement of the song. As cello players were on stage, actual cellos were used on the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro. In the midst of the instrumental jam, the third verse (from the ELO version: "Well, early in the mornin'...") was performed, but not the fourth verse or second chorus. And the first part of the repeated ending was also not performed. This performance is available on the 2001 Zoom Tour Live DVDs.

    Due the band's long history with the song and the fact that it was the closing song at every show since 1972, there is a wealth of bootleg and released material for the song.

    Pictures

    UK ELO 2 LP (Harvest SHVL 806) USA Electric Light Orchestra II LP (United Artists UA-LA 040-F)
    first issue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5063 second issue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5063 promo issue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5063 UK ELO 2 LP (Harvest SHVL 806) USA Electric Light Orchestra II LP (United Artists UA-LA 040-F)
    USA vinyl single * United Artists * UA-XW 173-W first promo USA vinyl single * United Artists * UA-XW 173-W second promo USA vinyl single * United Artists * UA-XW 173-W third promo USA vinyl single * United Artists * UA-XW 173-W reissue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5121
    promo reissue UK 12" vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 12-5121 reissue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5179 promo reissue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest HAR 5179 reissue UK vinyl 12" single * Harvest * 12-HAR 5179 reissue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest G45 22 (black label)
    Belgium 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 4C 006-05242
    reissue UK vinyl single * Harvest Records * Harvest G45 22 (blue label) reissue USA vinyl single * United Artists (Silver Spotlight) * XW-513-X reissue USA vinyl single * Jet/CBS (Golden Oldies) * ZS8 5152 reissue USA vinyl single * Jet/CBS (Collectables) * ZS8 5152 Belgium 7" single * EMI Harvest * 4C 006-05242
    Canada 7-inch single * United Artists * UA-XW173-W Denmark 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063? France 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * ? Germany 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 1C 006-05 242 Germany reissue 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 1C 006-06 855
    Canada 7" single * United Artists * UA-XW173-W Denmark 7" single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063? France 7" single * EMI Harvest * ? Germany 7" single * EMI Harvest * 1C 006-05 242 Germany reissue 7" single * EMI Harvest * 1C 006-06 855
    Greece 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HARG 1513 Guatamala 7-inch single * EMI * 4314 Holland Blue sleeve 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 5C 006-05.242 Holland Orange sleeve 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 5C 006-05.242 Holland reissue 7-inch single * EMI * 1A 006-06855
    Greece 7" single * EMI Harvest * HARG 1513 Guatamala 7" single * EMI * 4314 Holland blue sleeve 7" single * EMI Harvest * 5C 006-05.242? Holland orange sleeve 7" single * EMI Harvest * 5C 006-05.242? Holland reissue 7" single * EMI * 1A 006-06855
    Israel 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Italy 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * 3C 006-05242.1 Japan standard 7-inch single * Odeon/EMI * EOR-10303 Japan promo 7-inch single * Odeon/EMI * EOR-10303 Mexico EP * Capitol/EMI * EPEM-10669
    Israel 7" single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Italy 7" single * EMI Harvest * 3C 006-05242.1 Japan standard 7" single * Odeon/EMI * EOR-10303 Japan promo 7" single * Odeon/EMI * EOR-10303 Mexico EP * Capitol/EMI * EPEM-10669
    New Zealand 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Spain 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * J 006-05242 Sweden 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Yugoslavia 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * SHAR ?????
    New Zealand 7" single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Spain 7" single * EMI Harvest * J 006-05242 Sweden 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * HAR 5063 Yugoslavia 7-inch single * EMI Harvest * SHAR ?????

    Cover Versions

    Technically, Roll Over Beethoven is a cover version of the Chuck Berry song so any additional cover versions are cover versions of that original. However, there exists a version by Joe Fagin on the 1985 Roll Over Beethoven soundtrack album (under the title A Bit Of The Fifth/Roll Over Beethoven) that uses the rather unique ELO arrangement. The arrangement has also been used on a few ELO tribute albums over the years, including a Jack Livingston Orchestra and Singers album called Rock Aria's.

    Use in Movies and TV Programs

    This song has not been used in any known movies or TV programs.

    Sheet Music

           
    Sheet music as published in the UK.

           
    Sheet music as published in the USA.

    Promotional Videos and TV Performances

    Roll Over Beethoven promo videoThere was a rarely seen promo video Roll Over Beethoven from 1973. This video is somewhat unique in that it is a rare instance of the audio track being a live performance, rather than the album or single track. This video, filmed in an unidentified British theatre on unknown date, features the band on stage in front of a live audience playing the full ELO 2 version of the song, running approximately eight minutes and 30 seconds total. The video starts with a cartoon marquee introducing the band and for about the first minute or so, the band is shown with various negative/positive camera effects. It features the band at the time, including violinist Wilf Gibson (in red shirt and yellow cape) and cellists Mike Edwards and Colin Walker. In a few moments of rock 'n' roll madness, cellist Mike Edwards performs some stage antics during the second long instrumental bridge of the song by simultaneously playing Colin Walker's cello (imagine two bows on one cello), pretending to wipe sweat off of Jeff Lynne's brow during the guitar solo, and eventually reaching up between Jeff Lynne's legs to play the guitar using his cello bow. Partly because of these stage antics and being a live performance, the guitar solos are greatly extended as well. This video has never been released officially and is very rarely seen on TV-- probably due to the eight minute running time. The Roll Over Beethoven promo video can be seen HERE.

     

    RollOverBeethoven on TOTPRollOverBeethoven on TOTPAs for television appearances, one of the first and most memorable was on the UK's Top Of The Pops. The record was played over the show's opening credits on January 25, 1973, however the band's first actual appearance on the show was a week later on February 1, with Noel Edmonds hosting. This performance, although a simple mime performance, is memorable because of Jeff Lynne's attempt to follow Roy Wood's wacky stage performance by wearing thick blye eye shadow, a pink boa, and a silver wig. This performance was repeated on Top Of The Pops again on February 15. This performance can be seen HERE.

     

    Roll Over Beethoven on The Midnight SpecialThe song was also performed with a live vocal over an instrumental backing on a June 29, 1973 broadcast of the USA show The Midnight Special with Paul Williams hosting (the actual performance took place on May 29). This performance was repeated on an August 17, with comedian Richard Pryor hosting. The August repeat is bootlegged and can be seen HERE, however the original June performance is not available anywhere. The band also performed a completely live version of the song during a mini-concert set to promote the Eldorado album on The Midnight Special that aired on January 17, 1975 (with the actual performance being done on November 24 or 25 of the previous year). Although some parts of ELO's performance on this program are available, the performance of Roll Over Beethoven is not among them.

     

    Other TV show performances include a performance on the USA show American Bandstand in 1973 (other details are unknown at this time) and a completely live performance on Germany's Szene '74 program (now known as Rockapalast) broadcast on October 11, 1974 as part of another mini-concert set during the On The Third Day tour. The Szene '74 performace has been officially released in 2010 in the UK only on the Electric Light Orchestra Live: The Early Years DVD. Although this DVD was released in the USA as well, for unclear reasons Roll Over Beethoven was removed from the tracks.

     

    Fan Comments

    Enter comments only about this song. (Inappropriate comments will be removed.)


    Artwork by Lynnette Johansson for Roll Over Beethoven
    -Fan artwork by Lynnette "Cicky" Johansson

    Share your thoughts and opinions on ELO's Roll Over Beethoven. Do you prefer the extended album version, the regular version, the single version or do you not really care at all?

    Quotations

    Roll Over Beethoven (Standard Album Release)
    "We knew ELO had to make it with Roll Over Beethoven and that one will go higher."
    Author Unknown (January 27, 1973 - Record Mirror)

    "Beethoven wouldn't just roll in his grave, he'd get up and play with it!"
    Roy Hollingworth (January, 1973 - Melody Maker)

    "As John Peel said on the wireless only the other day, [Roll Over Beethoven] has been done a million times. But the ELO give it probably the best new treatment since The Beatles. It opens with the dots from 'Fifth Symphony', a groovy chart the Old Master scored a while back. Then Jeff Lynne and & Co. take off with some energetic boogie. A great production, and the strings are suitably outrageous as they de-tune in such a fashion as would send Stradivarius mental. Probably No.1 - and for three weeks at least."
    Chris Welch (13 January 1973 - Melody Maker)

    "Ah, a 1984 version of Chuck Berry's frantic classic. Unlike Berry, ELO pay a tribute to Ludwig Van as they scout beyond the sonic zone. Now Roy Wood has dropped out, Jeff Lynne is left to pursue his music fantasies as he mixes his Jerry Lee-like delivery (a la California Man) with short classical interludes, some of which turn me on while others tend to detract from the continuity. One good thing about it, the mean rhythm section doesn't quit."
    Danny Holloway (13 January 1973 - NME)

    "As one might expect not just the normal vamped up rocker. Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood's musical minds always seem to have run so closely together, it was hard to work out who had the most influence over the arrangements of this band. Certainly now they're in Lynne's hands alone, the result reeks of ELO's past efforts. Starts with Beethoven's Firth [sic] then breaks into a gotcha by golly wow and midway has a strangely workable combination of straight violins going semi-classical over a dark rock bass and drum. They seem to be so attuned to commerciality I can't see how this can fail."
    Penny Valentine (13 January 1973 - Sounds)

    "Roll over, Beethoven - The Electric Light Orchestra have put you on the pop scene again. The weird and wonderful half-classical-half-pop group have turned Chuck Berry's song into a top ten smash hit in Britain. Roll Over Beethoven originally sold a million for the big daddy of rock seventeen years ago. Then The Beatles recorded it on their hit album, With The Beatles, in 1963. Now Beethoven has rolled up again. The boys - whose stuff is mostly heavy - played Roll Over Beethoven as a bit of light relief on their recent tour of colleges and halls and found it 'got 'em all at it' as founder member Jeff Lynne puts it. So they decided to release the number as a pop single. "
    Deborah Thomas (13 March 1973 - Daily Mirror)

    "An absolutely amazing grafting of Beethoven licks onto Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven-- they come across as a demented wedding of Charles Ives and the Three Stooges."
    Author Unknown (April, 1973 - Rolling Stone)

    "Of course, Roll Over Beethoven with its incorporation of the Fifth Symphony was mentioned: Lynne disclaimed all responsibility for it, passing the buck to Chuck Berry and Ludwig Von, but he professed a preference for the single. "
    Author Unknown (July 17 1973 - The Boston Phoenix)

    "Their enthusiasm sparked a surprisingly good reception to the first ELO album and paved the way for the irresistable charms of Roll Over Beethoven, which became the group's first American smash after weeks in England's #1 slot."
    Unknown (early October 1973 - On The Third Day press kit)
    Editor's Note: Roll Over Beethoven did not reach England's #1 spot, much less spend weeks there. This is an example of the embellishment by Don Arden to hype the band.

    "My initial reaction when seeing this lying about was 'Jesus, not another Chuck Berry song.' The Faces apart, has anyone done anything new with a Berry song in the past five years? Lonnie Mack did, but that was aeons ago. However, I shouldn't have doubted Jeff Lynne's ability to come up with something remarkable. This is, in the best pop traditions, a beautiful absurdity. Corny, jokey and quite magnificent. For a start yer [sic] cellos an' that do a pretty straight bit of real Beethovening at the opening and close and Jeff plays a beautiful charging guitar that is every bit the equal of George Harrison's version and even of the original itself. There's a lot of echo on the guitar and the piano sounds as though a madman was operating it in an adjoining room. There's a faintly Jerry Lee Lewisish quality to the vocals. The strings, rocking like bitches, play sort of a ghost-train evil. It's absurd, much larger than life, genuinely witty and vastly entertaining. The ELO never lose site, in all the Grand Guignol, that 'Beethoven' is first and foremost a rocker and this thunders along magnificently. If it's not a number one I shall come along you with a whip."
    John Peel (1973 - Source Unknown (excerpt extracted from photocopied article found in the liner notes for The Lost Planet))

    "And lest we forget, there is the rocking big hit revival of Roll Over Beethoven, with its labored use of the famed four-note opening motive from [Beethoven's] Symphony No. 5, which certainly must have been a concerted effort to poke fun at Ludwig Van, chuckle at Berry and otherwise hoot at the entire hackneyed and pompous notion of 'returning to one's roots.' Yuk, yuk."
    James Isaacs (September 27, 1973 Rolling Stone #144)

    "The full nine-minute version of our recent single hit. When you listen to this one you will appreciate what a good job Jeff Lynne did with the editing."
    Bev Bevan (1973 - Birmingham Post & Mail article entitled: Chart Boost Coming For Brum And E.L.O.)

    "The reason we released Roll Over Beethoven as a single was that we hadn't a single since last June. And we thought maybe they were forgetting about us, which they were, and we needed some publicity like that to plug the album a bit. The new album's coming out this month (March). And it was so popular on stage that we thought it was the best number to release off the album, because we hadn't anything specifically recorded for a single. I think it works well. We have an original sound. Its hard to tell really how well it works, because we're only learning ourselves."
    Jeff Lynne (1973 - Source Unknown, article entitled A Spaceship Shaped Like A Lightbulb found in website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "Next is Roll Over Beethoven. This is the version that the band play on stage, about eight minutes long, three of which were edited into the single. You know it of course: interlacing Beethoven's fifth riff (try saying that fast) with Chuck's classic. It's an outrageous arrangement, really, but on this longer version, the strings get a chance to get into some truly inspired rocking with Tandy throwing out the occasional frenetic burst of boogie piano."
    Mick Drennan (1973 - Source Unknown, article entitled A Spaceship Shaped Like A Lightbulb found in website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "The symphonic Roll Over Beethoven has been out there waiting for a long time. "
    Robert Christgau (circa 1973 - Electric Light Orchestra II review on www.robertchristgau.com)

    "When WNCN, the New York classical station changed its format to rock and its call letters to WQIV, it chose an ideal transition tune as a debut: the Chuck Berry classic, Roll Over Beethoven. The choice was ideal for a second reason: The station used a version of the song by the Electric Light Orchestra, melding a rock oldie with one of the hottest new rock groups. The group had a hit with Roll Over Beethoven last year, and while it is not representative of the range of ELO's musical ambitions, it conveniently furnished them with momentum."
    Richard Cromelin (December 7, 1974 - The Gastonia Gazette)

    "Classical or not, ELO got a lot of help from good old Ludwig one time when he sat in with Chuck Berry. [Roll Over Beethoven] was a startling mixture that brought ELO to the attention of American radio listeners in 1973."
    Robert W. Morgan (late 1976 - The Robert W. Morgan Special of the Week radio show)

    "Best known from the second Electric Light Orchestra LP is Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven. 'It was the most obvious idea in the world,' recalls Bev, 'to start with a portion of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and sequeway into Roll Over Beethoven. But no one had ever done it before and it became our first hit.'"
    Chuck Marshall (1976 - Rock Around The World radio show)

    "[Roll Over Beethoven] was a good thing for us, even though I dislike the record as well. Yeah, I find it painful to listen to. Yeah, mainly because of the vocals... I sing it... The vocal are horrible. But, you learn by mistakes. Y'know, I hear that now and I go, 'Ooh, who's that? It's me.'"
    Jeff Lynne (1976 - Innerview with Jim Ladd)

    "What can you say? The perfect marriage of rock & classical (a great track for Beethoven birthday celebrations by the way)."
    Author Unknown (June 1976 - liner notes for Olι ELO album)

    "ELO didn't really get going until the release of a second album and single-- Roll Over Beethoven, from ELO II [sic]. It reached number six in the UK charts, but only 42 here [in the US]. It was enough, however, to gain ELO a significant FM following."
    Joel Bellman (December 1976 - Trouser Press #17)

    "Two tracks immediately spring to mind that verify the classical-rock tag. Roll Over Beethoven, the neo-classical treatment of the rock classic that did more than anything else to present ELO and their ideals to the mass public, and Rockaria!, the new British single, are undeniably influenced by a desire to instil some degree of operatic feel into the music. On the other hand however, it is argued that they parody the classical tag as much as they project it. 'I suppose both are send-ups of the classical-rock tags,' Lynne said. The second album ELO 2, was a meek attempt at sustaining that dominance, but Lynne soon discovered he could not exercise the same power over their experimental adaptation of strings as Wood, and the only thing that held that album above water was the excellent rousing version of Roll Over Beethoven."
    Harry Doherty (April 2, 1977 - Melody Maker)

    "And, of course, there's the anthem, Roll Over Beethoven, the rocking statement of intent. As the man said, 'Roll over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues.'"
    Harry Doherty (1977 - The Light Shines On liner notes)

    "But they still couldn't break through to a major audience and only spasmodically, with obvious adaptations like Roll Over Beethoven, did they make the charts."
    Harry Doherty (1979 - The Light Shines On Vol 2 liner notes)

    "When we very first started and we were doing all our own material, we wanted to do a song that the crowd was familiar with. And we thought a Chuck Berry song was as good as any. And I really can't remember who came up with the idea of... Oh, it's like it's so obvious. It's a bit corny but let's put Beethoven's Fifth, y'know, with Roll Over Beethoven. And it's, what, y'know, it's... The simplest ideas are always the best."
    Bev Bevan (August 8, 1980 - The ELO Story radio show)

    "...we recorded Roll Over Beethoven. It started because we were so short of material, we never had anything for an encore, so someone suggested we do the inevitable Chuck Berry number. What was it to be? We decided on Roll Over Beethoven with some genuine strings on at the start. At first we tried Beethoven's Ninth, but finally settled on Beethoven's Fifth. To our string section-- all classically trained musicians-- it was nothing. 'Sure,' they said. 'Beethoven, Mozart, Bach-- it's all the same to us.' But the moment an audience heard it for the first time, with those stirring strings sweeping into rock 'n' roll, they went wild. And when we finally released it as a single (January 1973) it made the top five in Britain and gave us a minor hit in America. It was perhaps the most important single we ever made."
    Bev Bevan (1980 - The Electric Light Orchestra Story)

    "Even more blatant was the track which had been edited down to become the band's second Top Ten single two months earlier [than the release of ELO 2]. Roll Over Beethoven combined the famous phrase from old Ludwig's Fifth Symphony with the Chuck Berry classic, harkening back to The Move's Night Of Fear which had 'borrowed' its riff from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture."
    Paul Cox (1986 - liner notes for First Movement)

    "...the track that turned an exotic musical experiment into a hugely powerful rock band was Roll Over Beethoven. The group had learned the song as an encore, making Chuck Berry's clever lyrical metaphor audibly literal with the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (and, for a while on stage, his Ninth as well). However vague the original concept for ELO, this number singlehandedly made abundantly clear how rock 'n' roll with a string section should sound. In Britain, where it was released as a single in January 1973, Roll Over Beethoven immediately became a Top 10 hit; it reached #42 in the United States. But it had a major impact on FM radio, where it was embraced by young people as an irreverent salvo in the generation battle against stuffy adult authority. From his Wizzard-ly vantage point, Roy Wood promptly made sport of his former cohorts, naming a jazzy B-side Bend Over Beethoven."
    Ira Robbins (1990 liner notes for Afterglow)

    "The track that turned an exotic musical experiment into a hugely popular rock band was Roll Over Beethoven. The group had learned the song as an encore, making Chuck Berry's clever lyrical metaphor audibly literal with the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (and, for a while on stage, his Ninth as well). However vague the original concept for ELO, this number single-handedly made abundantly clear how rock 'n' roll with a string section should sound. In Britain, where it was released as a single in January 1973, Roll Over Beethoven immediately became a Top 10 hit; it reached #42 in the United States. But it had a major impact on FM radio, where it was embraced by young people as an irreverent salvo in the generational battle against stuffy adult authority. From his Wizzard-ly vantage point, Roy Wood promptly made sport of his former cohorts, naming a jazzy B-side Bend Over Beethoven."
    Ira Robbins (1995 liner notes for Strange Magic: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra)

    "[Hugh McDowell] decided to rejoin E.L.O. at the end of 1973, after their UK release of On The Third Day. However, it caused some trouble, because he had written a song called Bend Over Beethoven [as a member of Roy Wood's Wizzard that was released] just three months after E.L.O.'s Roll Over Beethoven release. The song had been making fun on E.L.O.'s single, so they weren't that pleased about him wanting to return, but they also urgently needed a cello player."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "As for 1973's ELO II, Lynne says, 'Roll Over Beethoven was on there, and that was unbeatable as a live number. You can't help but tap your foot to it.' Lynne never heard from the song's writer, Chuck Berry, about ELO's classically tinged yet rocking version that became an FM favorite. 'No, I saw Chuck once in a coffee shop,' Lynne remembers, 'but I didn't fancy going up to him in case he said, You messed up my song.'"
    David Wild (2000 liner notes for Flashback)

    "In the studio next door, Paul McCartney was recording Live And Let Die, and producer George Martin popped into our studio to have a listen to our slightly different version of the classic he had recorded about ten years earlier. He gave a nod of approval."
    Jeff Lynne (2000 - Flashback)

    "In a corny way, Roll Over Beethoven was what we were trying to do, so I decided to use the Fifth Symphony. It turned out to be a good combination. I sing all the wrong lyrics but there's a story behind that. We were in the studio, and we had just finished the backing track, we had all played and it had sounded good and we were ready to put vocals on it. At that point, I realised that I didn't know what the words were, so we called up Bev's record shop (Heavyhead Records in Birmingham) and his assistant was there, and he read me the words over the phone. He was getting it off the record, playing a bit at a time and telling them to me. It took about an hour to get the words-- and they were wrong anyway!"
    Jeff Lynne (circa 2000) - liner notes for The Lost Planet)

    "It had always been in me mind that we should one day think about doing Roll Over Beethoven 'cause... mainly just for the name Beethoven obviously. We had these fantastic t-shirts made of... a picture of Beethoven with his fingers stuck in his ears with this incredibly horrified expression. That's, you know, 'roll over beethoven.' I mean, that was the fun thing to do. It's a bit long, it went on about eight or nine minutes. In those days you were sort of expected to have big long winding thing going on, for hours and hours, droning on and on... "
    Jeff Lynne (June 2 & 9, 2001 - Mr. Blue Sky: The Jeff Lynne Story 2001 BBC 2 Radio show)

    "As soon as you strike up with [Roll Over Beethoven in concert]... It's a pleasure to play it anyway, because it's so frantic, y'know, and you got a million guitar solos and it's a lot of fun."
    Jeff Lynne (June 12, 2001 - interview with DJs Mark & Brian on 95.5 KLOS)

    "Next door across the hallway in, um, AIR Studios in London [Paul McCartney was recording while I was recording Roll Over Beethoven] and Paul was in doing Live And Let Die with this big thousand piece orchestra. And, uh, I was doing Roll Over Beethoven in this other room across the way and George came in, George Martin. Had a listen to it and he was smiling; he was smiling and he liked it."
    Jeff Lynne (June 24, 2001 - Off The Record interview with Joe Benson)

    "A live favourite in the Sixties and Seventies with everyone from the Beatles to Uriah Heep, it's the Electric Light Orchestra cover most people know. With blistering guitar, deft string arrangements and tongue-in-cheek quotes from Beethoven's Fifth, it perfectly fitted ELO's prog-pop profile. 'We're not into experimental classical stuff, nothing discordant. I just love the melodies of the old composers,' reasoned Jeff Lynne. Already a popular encore number, it's the highlight on the band's second album, the overblown and otherwise tedious ELO II, and was earmarked for 45 release in 1973. More Moseley than Missouri, Roll Over Beethoven established the quirky Brummie band as a solid chart act. The drummer, Bev Bevan, called it 'perhaps the most important single we ever made.'"
    Robert Webb (January 18, 2002 The Independent - The Independent's Guide to Pop's Most Intriguing Cover Versions: Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry / ELO)

    "ELO's live favourite Roll Over Beethoven, an inspired cover of Chuck Berry's classic combined with elements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, was an obvious choice for a UK single and was released by Harvest in the UK on 12 January 1973. Fuelled by a high-octane Top Of The Pops TV performance, Roll Over Beethoven did even better than its predecessor [10538 Overture] and reached no. 6 [on the UK singles chart]. [...] Roll Over Beethoven exists in various edited formats. For most territories, ELO 2 included an 8:02 version but in the UK and Japan the song was edited to 6:56. [...] [In America, Roll Over Beethoven was] ELO's first USA hit at no.42. Though UA were pleased with the success, the single should have gone higher in the charts. Sadly, Billboard's new computer system for recording sales figures crashed the second week of Roll Over Beethoven's chart run and many sales were never recorded."
    Rob Caiger (2002 - liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "Personally, I really like the way I played on Roll Over Beethoven in particular."
    Bev Bevan (2002 - liner notes for The Lost Planet)

    "ELO wasn't a dictatorship as some critics have described, it was great fun, especially for those that could contribute to the songs Jeff had written. If he felt it was a good idea, it could stay, though ELO was very strictly Jeff's concept. He knew what he wanted but didn't limit the expression of the players. We all contributed to our parts - it wasn't dictated to us note by note. I know Richard contributed a lot, I did, Wilf contributed some critical things. Jeff would have told us what sort of atmosphere he was trying to create and imagery. For example, Wilf [Gibson] made some very important contributions to Roll Over Beethoven and Showdown. [...] I thought it was a very clever idea of rock 'n' roll plus what ELO stood for - the integration of strings. Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry, rock 'n' roll and all these classically trained musicians thrown in together with some nice classical arrangements. A classical version of the Blood, Sweat & Tears attempt at putting two forms of music together. It was a very conscious, clever, commercial move by Jeff to do this. Chuck Berry, The Beatles. it didn't matter, this was different again. And it worked. Rather than look for apiece of his own music, it was Jeff's decision to do Roll Over Beethoven. To this present day, that song stands as the building block for the whole ELO. However tiresome it got to play as an encore, you could never forget it was one of those ingredients that was magical, that the audience loved it and that we should be very grateful (laughs). I remember George Martin coming into the studio - and Jeff of course, idolised The Beatles. When his George-ship walked into our studio and accepted an invitation to listen to a version of something he cut a long time earlier, it was very exciting. He listened like a professor would, nodded appreciatively and said quietly 'I think you've got a hit there chaps.' Which was very exciting for everyone - and he was right! [...] When we got to the vocal for Roll Over Beethoven, of course nobody knew the words! Somebody had to send out to the music publishers, but the words weren't obtainable, so in the end it was phoned in from a friend via The Beatles record! Eventually these words were in, scribbled down on a piece of paper. The next problem was singing it. Now, in this wonderfully equipped studio, Jeff is presented with a variety of microphones, which, in today's money, might go in the region of £200 - £2,000 - maybe even more. So, there's a range of Rolls Royce microphones, all put in front of him. Jeff looked at them and being a man of few words, you could tell something was on his mind. I think he was disgusted that rock 'n' roll could be transmitted to the audience by one of these posh microphones! He made a request to the engineer for, I think, a mail-order microphone that Tandy's did, which probably cost 15 quid. They hadn't got it. So he made a request for something of similar grottyness - they hadn't got that either. Jeff was momentarily lost for words, then said, 'I know, lets use one of these and drop it on the floor!' Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know how we got the sound, but we did manage to sh*t it up somehow!"
    Michael De Albuquerque (2002 - website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "After we'd finished ELO 2, which was the first album I was on, I was sure it was going to be a massive hit, be no. 1 all over the world. I was quite disappointed when it wasn't but I remember being quite surprised to here that Beethoven [sic] was in the American charts and we were getting success. I was expecting things to be successful and they weren't and then out of the blue, the news comes in that we'd got a hit in America. I had no idea why it was picked up on as a single. It was an obvious one to do as a stage number for us, tongue in cheek I suppose. [...] I dunno [how ELO got such an incredible sound out of the studio and onto the record for Roll Over Beethoven]! It's just the way Jeff mics it, he just puts the mic in the right place. The piano was just an old upright. Paul McCartney was recording next door and George Martin looked in. That was a thrill-- it was all a thrilling."
    Richard Tandy (March 2003 - Face The Music (fanclub) News Bulletin)

    "It was Jeff Lynne's inspired idea to cover Chuck Berry's classic Roll Over Beethoven and incorporate elements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. With recording completed at AIR Studios in on energy-charged take during 1972, the song was soon a huge favourite amongst UK and European fans and critics alike when it was performed at ELO's early live shows. The only possible candidate as a single from the forthcoming ELO 2 album, Roll Over Beethoven was the group's second hit following release on 12 January 1973. Originally backed with Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) copies were quickly withdrawn and replaced with Queen Of The Hours, another Jeff Lynne composition from the first album. An even shorter single edit was released later that year in the USA (United Artists UA-XW 173-W) and became ELO's debut American hit, reaching no. 42. More importantly, constant radio airplay supporting ELO's exhaustive coast-to-coast tours and electrifying performances of the song on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and Midnight Special TV shows helped crack the lucrative American music market, Roll Over Beethoven is still ELO's preferred encore of choice..."
    Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - liner notes for The Lost Planet)

    "Roll Over Beethoven was ELO's first hit in the USA and their performance of the song on the legendary Midnight Special TV series began the groups huge success in America during the 1970's. [...] Regrouping under Lynne's leadership [after Roy Wood's departure], the new ELO made a triumphant debut at the 1972 Reading Festival. This led to their inspired 5th Symphony-quoting cover of Roll Over Beethoven in January 1973, which fast became ELO's theme song and laid valuable groundwork in the USA, becoming an FM radio favourite. A barnstorming unedited version helped second album ELO 2 into the UK album charts "
    Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "The 8 minute version [of Roll Over Beethoven] is the mix for all territories except for UK and Japan."
    Rob Caiger (April 1, 2003 - Showdown mailing list)

    "The [Electric Light Orchestra II] album only had five cuts on it, but their rather indulgent version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, that included a cello send-up of Beethoven's own infamous Fifth Symphony gave them their first US hit."
    Jaan Uhelszki (April 1 2003 liner notes for The Essential Electric Light Orchestra)

    "Also [I like] Roll Over Beethoven because it was the track which first caught the public’s imagination. In the case of Roll Over Beethoven in which everyone had a percentage of input, there is some of my own original composition as well as arrangement. One example is the instrumental break which leads into the violin solo."
    Wilf Gibson (October 2003 - Martin Kinch's Cherry Blossom Clinic website)

    "After Roy Wood's departure ELO wasted no time getting back into the studio. Ronny Smith, the former frontman of Ronny and the Senators, recalls, 'I was in partnership with Bev Bevan in the 'Heavy Heads' record shop in Stratford Road, Sparkhill. Bev was with the band down at George Martin's Air Studios in Oxford Street when I got a call from him asking if I had a copy of Roll Over Beethoven in stock.' The Chuck Berry masterpiece was to get the ELO treatment that day, the only snag was that no one in the band, in the whole building for that matter, could remember all the lyrics. Ronny Smith had no need to dig out a copy of the record. He just closed his mind and in his mind he was back performing at the Las Vegas coffee bar. With Bev scribbling frantically at the other end of the telephone line, Ronny, having taken up a Gene Vincent stance, just belted it out-- 'Gonna write a little letter, gonna mail it to my local DJ...'"
    Laurie Hornsby (2003 - Brum Rocked On)

    "The only guitar tracks I've got on Roll Over Beethoven are down as Jeff."
    Rob Caiger (April 9, 2005 - Showdown mailing list)

    "I mean Roll Over Beethoven really was just a bit of fun to finish an album off, y'know, we just needed one more track. And was [a] real long one, y'know. That was the fashion in those days, like 'How long is it? Fifteen minutes? Ah, it must be brilliant.' I've since edited it down about twelve times and got it down to about half an hour. [Laughs.]"
    Jeff Lynne (July 5, 2005 - Face The Music: The Story of the Electric Light Orchestra BBC 2 Radio show)

    "This collection doesn't include Can't Get It Out Of My Head or Roll Over Beethoven or 10538 Overture, which might make some question why it's called The Very Best of ELO."
    Angela Pancella (July 2005 - Playback St. Louis review of All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra)

    "The original vision for the Electric Light Orchestra was rather coarsely telegraphed by their name: a merger of pop, rock, and classical music that yielded some pretty embarrassing early moments (including the Beethoven/Berry mash-up of Roll Over Beethoven, not included here) and some pretty great ones (rock + opera aria = Rockaria!, included)."
    Rob Mitchum (August 8, 2005 - Pitchfork Media All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra review)

    "The earlier collection [The Essential Electric Light Orchestra] seemed perfectly sufficient for most ELO fans, going so far as to include the only non-Lynne penned song in ELO's repertoire, Check Berry's Roll Over Beethoven (the song that introduced ELO to the United States). Most shocking about All Over the World [sic] is that while the earlier collection had space to include not only Roll Over Beethoven but also included the catchy Do Ya, the newer collection includes neither. Owners of this collection will be kicking themselves and cursing the gods at this omission."
    Raul Burriel (August 14, 2005 - The Trades All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra review)

    "The US version of Roll Over Beethoven will not be used [on the USA's ELO II remaster CD] as per Jeff's instructions but I hope to make that available either as a download or as part of another project."
    Rob Caiger (January 27, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    "[Regarding the longer version of Roll Over Beethoven that was used on the USA Electric Light Orchestra II LP,] though UA did a fantastic job at the time, a lot of what went out to promote the band around their debut US tour and Roll Over Beethoven was rushed (to meet deadlines) and some things were not agreed by Jeff. There simply wasn't time and [the wrong version of the song] is one of the things that slipped through. At last, now's a chance to put the right version on the CD! In Jeff's opinion - and his is the only one that matters after all - the wrong album cover and the wrong version of Roll Over Beethoven has been out there for over thirty years and now we can sort it out. At the time, there was so much going on, this was never corrected by the young band and just left."
    Rob Caiger (February 2, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    "The original, full length version of Roll Over Beethoven is on [the ELO II CD as] the 'take 1' version which precedes the US one. And as I said, we'll make the [remaster of the 8:11] US version available at a later date."
    Rob Caiger (February 4, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    "ELO regrouped under Jeff Lynne's leadership and by 1973, the band were back in the UK top 10 with a rousing Fifth Symphony-quoting version of Chuck Berry's classic Roll Over Beethoven. It was also their debut USA hit, gaining much-needed publicity and promotion for ELO's first American tour and second album ELO 2."
    Rob Caiger (March 13, 2006 - liner notes for The Collection)

    "...they struck paydirt with their interpretation of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, also once tackled by The Beatles. [...] ELO II provided only 5 tracks, but those tracks were timed over 6 minutes with the best-known song, Roll Over Beethoven clocking in at 7 minutes (but pared down to a radio-friendly edit for AM). ...lighting up the album with their brilliant Roll Over Beethoven, with its violin beginnings before popping into the rollicking piano/guitar Berry version. Even though radio couldn't handle the lengthy version presented on the album, it is classic (no pun intended) with its manic violin and rock hybrid. [...] And no matter how you read it OR hear it, ELO's interpretation of Roll Over Beethoven is still the king of all versions."
    Matt Rowe (March 22, 2006 - MusicTAP No Answer and ELO II review)

    "We were doing Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven on stage at this point so it was an obvious one to record. On stage I'd just make up some of the words because I'd never really learnt all of them. When it was time to do the vocals on the record I thought I'd better sing the real ones. From the studio we phoned someone with a record player who played Chuck's record down the phone over and over again and I wrote down what I though I heard. Oops, I got a few words wrong on my version and that's the way it stayed for the last thirty four years! We recorded Beethoven [sic] at Air Studios and in the next room was Paul McCartney recording Live And Let Die. George Martin, who owned the studios, was producing the Wings classic and came into our studio to have a listen to this strange version of Roll Over Beethoven, a song that he had recorded with the Beatles some years before. He smiled and nodded his head so I think he enjoyed it."
    Jeff Lynne (March 28, 2006 - ELO II Remaster)

    "ELO's live favourite Roll Over Beethoven, an inspired cover of Chuck Berry's classic combined with elements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, was an obvious choice for a single and was released by the band's UK label to instant chart success. The new album followed the single into the charts, gaining enthusiastic and positive reviews. ELO II [sic] was also making waves across the Atlantic thanks to heavy FM radio interest in Roll Over Beethoven."
    Rob Caiger (March 28, 2006 - ELO II Remaster)

    "With Lynne in charge for 1973's ELO II, the band plugged in, enlisted a string section and became a hit with a cover of Roll Over Beethoven that playfully quoted Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. [...] An intriguing bit of pop history is also revealed in Lynne's new liner notes. It seems famed Beatles producer/arranger George Martin was recording Live and Let Die with Paul McCartney in an adjoining studio while ELO was cutting Beethoven [sic], and he dropped by to offer Lynne encouragement."
    Author Unknown (April 14, 2006 - No Answer and ELO II review in the Lexington Herald-Reader)

    "Roll Over Beethoven was Lynne's inspired Fifth Symphony-quoting cover of the Chuck Berry classic and an obvious single choice. Released in January 1973, it reached no.6 in the UK but importantly, was also ELO's debut hit in America and the start of the group's spectacular success in that country."
    Rob Caiger (July 31 2006 - The Harvest Years 1970-1973 liner notes)

    "It'd always been in my mind that we should one day think about doing Roll Over Beethoven, mainly because of the name Beethoven obviously. They had these fantastic t-shirts made up, with a picture of Beethoven with his fingers stuck in his ears with an incredibly horrified expression-- let's roll over Beethoven!"
    Jeff Lynne (July 31 2006 - The Harvest Years 1970-1973 liner notes)

    "[ELO] had dabbled in pub rock (the unspeakable Roll Over Beethoven)... [...] After ELO had their first big hit in 1973 with a reworking of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, Wood penned a song titled Bend Over Beethoven (sic)."
    Author Unknown (September, 2006 - Q Magazine Sep 2006)

    "ELO II, with the single Roll Over Beethoven, did pretty well on both the U.K. and U.S. charts. This modest breakthrough allowed ELO to visit the States on its first tour that summer, creating a forever loyal American fan base."
    Rock Cesario (October 16, 2006 - The Daily Sentinal (Grand Junction, Colorado))

    "It took him some time to nail down what he wanted the band to sound like. The single from ELO II, a ham-fisted version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven augmented with themes from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, epitomizes the foibles of the classical music approach to rock. Even Lynne now admits this clumsy amalgam was 'corny.' (Wizzard parodied the concept with its single Bend Over Beethoven, which also gives one a sense of the terms on which Wood departed). Nevertheless it achieved modest success, particularly in the US, setting the stage for the band's emergence in America."
    Rob Horning (2007 February 16 - On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record reissue review on popmatters.com)

    "Aside from a blistering cover of the Chuck Berry song Roll Over Beethoven, Lynne and company (originally Lynne and Wood along with bassist Rick Price, drummer Bev Bevan with several string players) had their eyes set squarely on the future."
    Scott Homewood (2007 February 2 - On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record reissue review on cdreviews.com)

    "We made the second album [ELO II [sic]], and that had [a version of Chuck Berry's] Roll Over Beethoven on it. It went Top 40 in America. So suddenly we've got our foot in the door over there."
    Jeff Lynne (December 2012 - Classic Rock magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Extended Album Version)
    This extended (maybe better described as unedited) version of Roll Over Beethoven was used on all Electric Light Orchestra II albums in all territories except the UK and Japan releases of ELO 2. It was apparently released by mistake during United Artists haste to release the LP. It includes two additional keyboard sequences on the first instrumental bridge, an additional piano solo before the guitar solo on the first instrumental bridge, and two additional keyboard sequences on the second instrumental bridge. The Early ELO (1971-1973) CD incorrectly puts to mellotron onto the end of the previous song on the set, Momma, rather than Roll Over Beethoven

    "Unfortunately, EMI also saw fit to release the 7-ingh version of Beethoven [sic]; my reaction to its inclusion can be seen in the sleeve notes. What I did want was the rare U.S. 8:02 extended version of the track, never issued in the UK, but perhaps EMI don't own the rights."
    Rob Caiger (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #10)

    "All issues [of Electric Light Orchestra II issued in 1973] included the 8:02 version of Roll Over Beethoven except the British and Japanese ones which had a 6:56 minute version."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "Even though the long [version of Roll Over Beethoven] is still a bit hard for me to listen to, the long version, I realized that when we did the box set, Flashback, we'd put the long version on there. Because a lot of people had asked for it, y'know, 'cause they'd only had the edited version for a while. It does certainly have a lot of energy, that track."
    Jeff Lynne (July 2001 - Electric Light Orchestra - Up Close US Jones Radio Network Radio Show)

    "Roll Over Beethoven exists in various edited formats. For most territories, ELO 2 included an 8:02 version but in the UK and Japan the song was edited to 6:56."
    Rob Caiger (2002 - liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "The 8 minute version [of Roll Over Beethoven] is the mix for all territories except for UK and Japan [where the edited seven minute version was used]."
    Rob Caiger (April 1, 2003 - Showdown mailing list)

    "A barnstorming unedited version [of Roll Over Beethoven] also helped second album ELO 2 into the UK album charts..."
    Rob Caiger (March 2004 - liner notes for Early Years album)
    Editor's note: The version on the UK ELO 2 album was edited down from the full version.

    "The US version of Roll Over Beethoven will not be used [on the USA's ELO II remaster CD] as per Jeff's instructions but I hope to make that available either as a download or as part of another project."
    Rob Caiger (January 27, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    "[Regarding the longer version of Roll Over Beethoven that was used on the USA Electric Light Orchestra II LP,] though UA did a fantastic job at the time, a lot of what went out to promote the band around their debut US tour and Roll Over Beethoven was rushed (to meet deadlines) and some things were not agreed by Jeff. There simply wasn't time and [the wrong version of the song] is one of the things that slipped through. At last, now's a chance to put the right version on the CD! In Jeff's opinion - and his is the only one that matters after all - the wrong album cover and the wrong version of Roll Over Beethoven has been out there for over thirty years and now we can sort it out. At the time, there was so much going on, this was never corrected by the young band and just left."
    Rob Caiger (February 2, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Take 1)
    This version is pretty much the same extended version that appeared on the USA issued Electric Light Orchestra II album except it is a raw, unedited version. The harmonium intro is missing and Bev Bevan and Jeff Lynne are making goofy sounds imitating the Beethoven's Fifth intro. They also make humorous sounds during the instrumental bridges and at the Beethoven's Fifth ending. The second violin solo of the first instrumental bridge is completely different. There is also studio chatter at the beginning and end of the track. The total mix is a bit more raw, with no processing of Jeff Lynne's lead vocals.

    "The first session at AIR Studios began on 8 September 1972 with Kuiama (take 1), Number Four (Momma take 2) and Roll Over Beethoven (take 1). Roll Over Beethoven exists in various edited formats. The previously unreleased 'Take 1' is the most complete (with Jeff and Bev Bevan's Goon Show-style ad-libs left in)."
    Rob Caiger (2002 - liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "Roll Over Beethoven Take 1 took forever to prepare. The channels were all over the place, with instrumentation bounced down (or hidden) on tracks not shown on the channel breakdown on the tape box. It took us ages to find and bring out Richard's piano. Great fun though!"
    Rob Caiger (April 1, 2003 - Showdown mailing list)

    "The original, full length version of Roll Over Beethoven is on [the ELO II CD as] the 'take 1' version which precedes the US one."
    Rob Caiger (February 4, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    "[The ELO II remaster CD] completes with a silly alternate mix of Roll Over Beethoven that begins with a capella rather than the all violin beginning that is found on the officially release version as welll [sic] as in-studio chatter. The vocal track sounds the same but the rest of the 8+ minutes variates between the familiar and sometimes spare, sometimes full music elements. It is a worthy and quite interesting bonus track to be attached to this Legacy expanded version. And no matter how you read it OR hear it, ELO's interpretation of Roll Over Beethoven is still the king of all versions."
    Matt Rowe (March 22, 2006 - MusicTAP No Answer and ELO II review)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Single Version)
    This song is edited from the full 7:03 ELO 2 album version, where the mellotron intro and the second Beethoven's Fifth sequences are cut from the intro; one of the keyboard sequences, the guitar solo and the following keyboard/cello part are cut from the first instrumental bridge; the entire second chorus is cut; and the second instrumental bridge except the guitar solo is cut.

    "[Roll Over Beethoven] as recorded for the album lasted over eight minutes (and still sounds sublime), but Wonderful Radio One wasn't likely to react too well to a single that long in early 1973, so an edited version lasting a mere four and a half minutes was created. It reached the UK Top 10 and also, more crucially, became the group's first US Top 50 single. [...] As it is, [ELO fanclub] 'Face The Music' editor Andrew Whiteside and his cohort, Rob Caiger, have differing views on the single edit of Beethoven -- Caiger calls it 'an abomination', while Whiteside feels less strongly on the subject."
    John Tobler (1991 liner notes for Early ELO (1971-1973))

    "Unfortunately, EMI also saw fit to release the 7-ingh version of Beethoven [sic]; my reaction to its inclusion can be seen in the sleeve notes. What I did want was the rare U.S. 8:02 extended version of the track, never issued in the UK, but perhaps EMI don't own the rights."
    Rob Caiger (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #10)

    "In January 1973, Roll Over Beethoven was released as an edited version which was taken from the new recording sessions for a second album at the end of 1972."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "...my views on the [Roll Over Beethoven] single edit haven't changed at all. One of the worst hatchett jobs ever - and still a massive hit. This version was also [to be] on Flashback because Jeff (modestly) felt the original was too long for people to listen to on a box set full of shorter tracks. Both myself and Al Quaglieri shouted very loud enough times to get a (quick) change of mind and the complete version on there instead. Funny enough, everyone's still keeping quiet as to who did the original edit..."
    Rob Caiger (August 26, 2002 - Showdown mailing list)

    "Roll Over Beethoven exists in various edited formats. [...] For most territories, ELO 2 included an 8:02 version but in the UK and Japan the song was edited to 6:56. The single version was further edited to 4:31 and released on 12 January 1973, reaching no.6 in the UK charts."
    Rob Caiger (2002 - liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "We have heard Roll Over Beethoven too often to find it much of a novelty here [on the Early Years collection]."
    Richard Warburton (February 21, 2004 - Birmingham Post)

    "Roll Over Beethoven is ELO's inspired cover of Chuck Berry's classic, released as [an edited] UK hit single on 12 January 1973."
    Rob Caiger (March 2004 - liner notes for Early Years album)

    "The Early Years is a fine additional collection to the already well-received reissues of both ELO and ELO II, and includes a wealth of previously unreleased material [such as] the opening orchestral roll of the seven-inch version of their cover of Roll Over Beethoven, the band's first major hit all over the world."
    Jerry Ewing (March 2004 - Classic Rock magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Mono Single Version)
    This is a mono version of the standard single version of Roll Over Beethoven.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Promo Single Version)
    This version, only available on one of the USA Roll Over Beethoven promo singles (there were two and this version appears on the one with yellow labels), uses the same edits as the standard single version, but with addition edits. It further cuts the fourth verse ("Well, she wiggle like a glow worm...") and the guitar solo from the second instrumental bridge.

    "Roll Over Beethoven exists in various edited formats. [...] For most territories, ELO 2 included an 8:02 version but in the UK and Japan the song was edited to 6:56. The single version was further edited to 4:31 and released on 12 January 1973, reaching no.6 in the UK charts. Following the demands of American radio, Lynne and United Artist' Dan Bourgoise took another minute off to 3:34 and scored ELO's first USA hit at no.42. Though UA were pleased with the success, the single should have gone higher in the charts. Sadly, Billboard's new computer system for recording sales figures crashed the second week of Roll Over Beethoven's chart run and many sales were never recorded."
    Rob Caiger (2002 - liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

    "An even shorter single edit was released later [in 1973] in the USA (United Artists UA-XW 173-W) and became ELO's debut American hit, reaching no. 42."
    Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - liner notes for The Lost Planet)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited USA Promo Mono Single Version)
    This is a mono version of the short, promo single version.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Monument Of British Rock Version)
    This version is the same as the edited single version, but is further cuts the second chorus and the first two sequences of the repeated ending. It only appeared on the 1979 various artists compilation entitled A Monument To British Rock: 20 Rock/Pop Classics From EMI - Vol 1 (EMI Harvest EMTV 17).

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited 18 Greatest Hits LP Version)
    This version is the same as the edited single version, but is further cuts the violin solos of the first instrumental bridge, the guitar solo from the second instrumental bridge and the first sequence of the repeated ending. It only appeared on the 1984 Australian compilation entitled 18 Greatest Hits (K-tel NA 674).

    Roll Over Beethoven (Edited Flashback Version)
    This version is the same as the USA issued Electric Light Orchestra II 8:11 version, but is missing the first 23 seconds of the mellotron intro.

    "Even though the long [version of Roll Over Beethoven] is still a bit hard for me to listen to, the long version, I realized that when we did the box set, Flashback, we'd put the long version on there. Because a lot of people had asked for it, y'know, 'cause they'd only had the edited version for a while. It does certainly have a lot of energy, that track."
    Jeff Lynne (July 2001 - Electric Light Orchestra - Up Close US Jones Radio Network Radio Show)

    "Most of [the 8:11 version of Roll Over Beethoven from the USA Electric Light Orchestra II album] is on Flashback..."
    Rob Caiger (April 9, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Quadraphonic Mix)
    This is a special (and unreleased) quadraphonic mix of the standard ELO 2 album version.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Stereo Mixdown of Quadraphonic Mix)
    This is a stereo mixdown of the quadraphonic mix of the standard ELO 2 album version.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Alternate Instrumental Mix)
    This is only released as a hidden track, attached to the Until Your Moma's Gone song on the Harvest Showdown album. It is the standard Roll Over Beethoven single edit, but cuts all vocals and pushes the piano down in the mix. It is mono only.

    "Possibly [the upcoming Harvest Heritage collection will have the 'US album version' of Roll Over Beethoven], or the instrumental backing track prepared for [The] Midnight Special."
    Rob Caiger (February 7, 2005 - Showdown mailing list)
    Editor's note: By The time of release, the Harvest Heritage collection was retitled Harvest Showdown.

    "There is a hidden track on Harvest Showdown but EMI didn't know about it because we didn't tell them. You'll enjoy it!"
    Rob Caiger (August 8, 2005 - Showdown mailing list)

    "Oh yes, there's also a hidden track [on the Harvest Showdown collection] that no one will have heard before (and still won't if they don't find it...) but will enjoy singing along to. If we told you what it was, it wouldn't be so hidden any more, so happy hunting..."
    John Van der Kiste (September 5, 2005 - Harvest Showdown review on ftmusic.com)

    "[Harvest Showdown includes] the instrumental backing track of ELO's take on Roll Over Beethoven."
    Titus Jennings (November 2005 - Record Collector issue 316)

    Roll Over Beethoven (BBC November 1, 1972)
    "Though the original BBC session tapes were wiped, the three-song performance survives, copied for Brian Matthew's European BBC Top Of The Pops programme. His excellent 'classic BBC-style' introductions to the tracks have been included and the session versions of From The Sun To The World, Momma and Roll Over Beethoven have been remastered for the very first time."
    Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)
    Editor's Note: Actually four songs survived as In The Hall Of The Mountain King was from this session was included on the The BBC Sessions CD from 1999.

    Roll Over Beethoven (The Midnight Special - May 29, 1973)
    This performance is of a new lead vocal by Jeff Lynne while the rest of the band mimes to a tape of the single version instrumental backing. It was first broadcast on the The Midnight Special on June 29, 1973 and although this broadcast is not available on the bootleg market, a re-broadcast from August 17, 1973 survives, complete with song introduction by Richard Pryor.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Video Version)
    This is a live performance from the music video produced to promote the song. It's a unique video because it is a live performance, rather than a staged and/or mimed performance to the studio recording. The video shows the band performing the song on stage in front of an audience, however there are no identifying things to tell when or where the song was performed and recorded. The performance is a typical live performance for the band at the time, using the basic UK ELO 2 album arrangement, but no mellotron intro, greatly extended piano and guitar solos during the instrumental breaks, and the unique whirling piano bit after the "dance like a spinning top" lyric. Most amusing is that during the guitar solo of the second instrumental break, the string players have fun with violinist Wilf Gibson grabbing one of the cellos and dragging it across the stage (listen for the violin when it stops playing) and cellist Mike Edwards reaching up between Jeff's legs and playing the guitar with his cello bow.

    Roll Over Beethoven (BBC April 19, 1973)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Long Beach May 12, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Remix Version) (Long Beach May 12, 1974)
    This remix version of Roll Over Beethoven is different from the original 1974 The Night The Light Went On In Long Beach album in that a piano and guitar solo between the second verse and second chorus is cut, thus running the verse and chorus together. This cut bit runs from [3:04] to [4:08] on the original mix. The sound is mixed to better sound quality.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Szene '74 - October 11, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (The Midnight Special - November 25, 1974)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Eldorado Tour)
    "ELO did several songs from the recent El Dorado [sic] album and finished its set with Roll Over Beethoven, which alternates between Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll."
    Peggy Mulloy Glad (December 12, 1974 - The Milwaukee Journal)

    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Winterland February 14, 1976)
    "The ovation was tremendous, with the crowd stomping and calling for 'ELO' and rock. The orchestra returned with the electrified chords of Beethoven's Fifth, a massive dose of green lights dousing the arena, followed byt eh ear-splintering sounds of their famous Roll Over Beethoven with the musicians letting loose all over the stage. The well-planned ending to their performance with exceptionally done, creating one of the finest rock musical moments the auditorium has ever witnessed. If Beethoven could have heard it, he would have probably enjoyed it too."
    Jonas Kover (1976 September - Unknown newspaper's review of September 12th concert)
    Editor's Note: These comments are not necessarily for this Winterland performance, but the database does not have another place to store the comments at the moment so they are being placed here for posterity.

    "In 1976 pre-recorded backing tapes were used for the first time to support the group, providing the intro's of Fire On High, Roll Over Beethoven and the prologue of Eldorado Overture."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (London June 20, 1976)
    "A brief hint of a laser (I think they sneaked one in), then the one we're all screaming for, Roll Over Beethoven. I checked to see if it was 'cool' to stand-- it was-- and then it was pandemonium on stage-- not only instruments getting thrashed, but musicians as well. More 'meltdown' than 'fusion'-- witness the human punchbag-- sorry, bass player. Bear in mind that Hugh sharpens his cello spike with a file pre-gig, so as to stab the stage and any wayward bass players that get in the way! Any danger money probably went on stage repairs... Beethoven [sic] trundles on-- Mel does his one man band bit, playing cymbals, piano, cello and Kelly's leg! Poor sod, I thought-- sat on, stabbed, kneed, dragged across stage, and still expected to sing in tune! With Jeff winding up the song, it's all over... bar the shouting (and review!)."
    Rob Caiger (1991 - Face The Music fanzine #9)

    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Portsmouth June 22, 1976)
    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    "The highlight of the evening had to be ELO's encore number. Returning to the stage in darkness-- without the stomping, match-lighting audience's knowledge-- the group suddenly broke into their screeching rendition of Roll Over Beethoven. The song quickly became a jam session between all members of the band, especially for songwriter-guitarist-lead vocalist Jeff Lynne. The vaudevillian antics during this encore (chasing, dancing, dueling, juggling their instruments while still playing) gave more examples of what excellent musicians and showmen ELO is composed of. The only heckles all evening were when they failed to come out for a second encore."
    Bill Wilson (April 1976 - unidentified newspaper review of the April 14th concert)

    Roll Over Beethoven (A New World Record Tour)
    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Wembley 1978)
    "The show's two lengthy encores were its finest moments, especially the thrilling, pull-out-the-stops finale of Roll Over Beethoven. Though the crowd clamored for more, ELO had given all it had in that number, and it was a fitting conclusion."
    Bruce Westbrook (July 5, 1978 - The Oklahoman review of Oklahoma City concert)

    "The band's second and final encore, Roll Over Beethoven said it all. The song is a fusion of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll hit, all with a '70s-era shine. Ludwig von B. would have loved the hair-standing finale, one of the best the arena has ever hosted. The band, equipped with wireless electric instruments, was all over that stage as thin green laser beams streaked everywhere. There was no need for a third encore. It would have been anticlamtic. [...] Near the end of Roll Over Beethoven McDowell and Melvyn Gales [sic], the band's other cellist, tossed their bows aside and played their instruments guitar-style."
    Zach Dunkin (1978 August 15 - The Indianapolis Star)

    "Called by for two encores, ELO finished the job with a muddy blast of Roll Over Beethoven that did sorry injustice to the song, but including the most exciting laser effects of the show. Green beams flashed in sync with the music in a dazzling diplay of assymetrical patterns."
    Carl Diltz (August 20, 1978 - St. Paul Pioneer Press concert review)

    "Also from tape [during the Out Of The Blue tour] came the intros of Roll Over Beethoven and Night In The City. Melvyn played piano with Richard again during the Roll Over Beethoven solo part."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "Roll Over Beethoven ([backup tapes were used for the] intro only) - 17 seconds"
    Rob Caiger (July 20, 2003 - Showdown mailing list)

    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Stereo Mix Wembley 1978)

    Roll Over Beethoven (5.1 Mix Wembley 1978)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Time Tour)
    "Pre-recorded tapes were only used for the Prologue and the 5th Symphony of Roll Over Beethoven."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    "On Roll Over Beethoven [in concert] we used to do verse and verse about; someone does a verse and gets a rest on the next one."
    Kelly Groucutt (March 3, 2006 - Guitar & Bass magazine)

    "'Be on your guard tonight,' Bev said, 'the roadies usually have something up their sleeve for the last gig of a tour.' It had become a tradition apparently, and 7 November 1981, was the last concert of the American tour, at Bloomington, Indiana. Ever mindful of Bevs' warning, as I played that night I kept a watchful vigil on what the road crew were up to, especially during the bits when the lights were low. But nothing happened. - I thought maybe the idea of a dastardly prank has lost its shock value for them, or perhaps they planned to wreak some other kind of havoc, by spiking our drinks later, or something....? But as we were playing the last song, Roll Over Beethoven, I saw the unmistakable shape of roadies scurrying about, carrying something, and I knew the hour of reckoning was drawing nigh. Sure enough I turned to see Brian Jones advancing up the steps of my rostrum clutching a paper plate, which had on it a white gooey mass. I danced around the plinth with him for few seconds while he grinned at me, but I had nowhere to go. I couldn't even lift a finger to protect myself when he finally let me have it in the face. It was a sort of cross between custard soufflι and shaving cream and it obscured my view of everything for a moment, until I could blow if off my eyes. Looking around I could see Bev was equally afflicted and Lou Clark and Mik Kaminski were about to get theirs. Then I looked down at the rest below. Kelly was at the front of the stage, oblivious to what was happening behind him. He stood with one foot on a foldback speaker, legs set wide apart, the neck of his bass guitar pointed into the air triumphantly. Half of ELO had by now turned into Christmas decorations and looked like frostbitten Eskimos, but Kelly couldn't see. The crowd at his feet beamed, and as Brian Jones approached him from behind across the big stage, their beams became beamier and they gagged and screamed in ecstatic delight. All eyes in the University of Indiana were focussed on one person. And he was loving it, his guitar neck rose higher, the crowd roared louder... Brian Jones stood right behind him barely a foot away, holding his paper plate like a waiter in a period play. He was a star in his own right for a full ten seconds. Finally he tapped Kelly on the shoulder and, as he turned his head, let him have it, full frontal. It was the quickest fall from grace I ever saw"
    David Scott-Morgan (2011 December - Patterns In The Chaos)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Heartbeat '86, March 15 1986)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Balance Of Power Tour)
    "The '5th Symphony Intro' of Roll Over Beethoven was played on a string synthesizer and the song got a new solo part, this time from Richard [Tandy] playing the main theme of Telstar by The Tornados, a guitar group from around 1962, on his synthesizer, with the whole song being performed in a different version with Duanne [sic] Eddy-like guitar riffs from Jeff."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    Roll Over Beethoven (Birmingham, April 23 1990)
    This song, only available on the Mike Sheridan self-produced Memories Are Made Of This DVD, is only partially played and features Mike Sheridan speaking over much of the music.

    Roll Over Beethoven (Los Angeles, May 2001)
    Roll Over Beethoven (5.1 Mix - Los Angeles, May 2001)

    This page is intended to be a complete record of information on the Electric Light Orchestra song Roll Over Beethoven. If you notice any errors or omissions, please contact me at elofan@juno.com and let me know. I strive for accuracy.

    Robert Porter
    April 2014