Electric Light Orchestra - Roll Over Beethoven [Album Version]Details

Roll Over Beethoven page in Wembley Or Bust book"The Electric Light Orchestra are to release Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven as their next single. The song, on Harvest, follows up their 10538 Overture from their first album, and is featured on their second album, set for release in January."
Unknown (December 9, 1972 - Record Mirror)

"Ah, a 1984 version of Chuck Berry's frantic classic. Unlike Berry, ELO pay a tribute to Ludwig Van as the scoot 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."
Unknown (January 13, 1973 - New Musical Express)

"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 (January 13, 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 (January 13, 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 (January 13, 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 (March 13, 1973 - Daily Mirror)

"The term 'wall of sound' has been tossed around a lot, but this LP [Electric Light Orchestra II] is one case where it applies. Best cuts: From The Sun To The World (Boogie # 1) [and] Roll Over Beethoven."
Unknown (March 24, 1973 - Billboard)

"Jeff and the rest of ELO have just had their second album-- called appropriately ELO 2-- released, and they're now searching for a follow-up single to Roll Over Beethoven. Jeff plans that this single will be one of his own compositions and I asked him why he had decided to follow the unusual course of releasing an already well known and recorded number fo rthe group's last single. 'The reason we did that one was because we hadn't had a record out for so long and it was really the only one inclined towards being really commercial.' [Jeff] explains, pulling a seat nearer and resting his feet on it. 'Our manager Don Arden advised us that it would be the best thing to do, and as the track was on the new album we could advertise the two together. I've never released anyone else's material before and I didn't mind because I didn't think there was anything else that could make a single.' Though Roll Over Beethoven gained a lot more fans for E.L.O., they have found, through their recent British tour, that their newly acquired fans are happy to sit and listen to their material."
Val Mabbs (March 28, 1973 - Record Mirror)

"The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) is another UA group that has had sufficient public nibbling at their Roll Over Beethoven recording that the company has decided to launch a campaign."
Unknown (March 31, 1973 - Cash Box)

"[Jeff Lynne's] finest effort to date is Roll Over Beethoven, a magnificent single that has enjoyed a lengthy reign over the British charts and is now breaking out like crazy within days of its U.S. release. The record is an astonishing mixture of classical instrumentation and hard rock, molded by the advanced structural concepts of Lynne, Bev Bevan and other group members. There are so many things happening in this record that you'll never tire of hearing it. It's one of the classics. The eight -minute version of Roll Over Beethoven can be heard on the Electric Light Orchestra's second album, ELO II."
Unknown (April 14, 1973 - United Artist's ad in Billboard)

"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)

"This collection [ELO 2] showcases a much improved ELO. Roll Over Beethoven has proved itself already, and deservedly so. It's the only non-Lynne composition..."
VM (May 5, 1973 - Record Mirror)

"LOS ANGELES -Roll Over Beethoven should enjoy a higher position on this week's Hot 100 Chart than is shown. The reason for the discrepancy is the fact that the chart's check-sheet whereby retailers are sampled failed to list the Electric Light Orchestra, but instead, named another artist As a result, retailers sampled reported on the other artist, and not the hot-selling Electric Light Orchestra. Next week's chart will rectify this MOT."
Unknown (June 9, 1973 - Billboard)

"Electric Light Orchestra now in States promoting Roll Over Beethoven which is now shooting up the American Cash Box charts."
Unknown (June 9, 1973 - Cash Box)

"At home Carlin [Music] has formed yet another company, Jeff Lynn Music [sic] to take care of all Lynn copyrights. Lynn, of course, is at the helm of The Electric Light Orchestra who are currently having big international success via their Roll Over Beethoven single and ELO 2 album."
Unknown (June 16, 1973 - Cash Box)

"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)

"As their UA hit single, Roll Over Beethoven, demonstrates the ELO has perfected a weirdly satisfying gestalt of manic hard-rock and lush classical tags."
Nat Freedland (June 23, 1973 - Billboard)

"Combining the amorphous instrumental feel of I Am The Walrus with the subtle rock grace of the Move at their Chinatown weirdest, the chief composer-arranger Lynne has pieced together a maddening collection which offers everything from a cello-infested boogie to a truly inspired version of Chuch Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, which mixes Berry's bounce with Beethoven's Fifth."
Ed Naha (July 1973 - Circus)

"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 review of Electric Light Orchestra II issue #144)

"[A reformed ELO was] soon scoring with ambitiously arranged re-working of Chuck Berry rock 'n' roll classic Roll Over Beethoven before going in totally different direction with 1973 hit Showdown, which could pass as black American soul production."
Unknown (October 27, 1973 - New Musical Express)

"It crashed liked [sic] a torpedo into the early days of 1973, sending Chuck Berry into a spin as it sped back to turn Ludwig himself around and around in his grave. Roll Over Beethoven burst apart a dormant music scene, providing the unexpected when such a move was, well, unexpected. Roll Over Beethoven brought in a new twist with each succeeding verse and drove relentlessly for its duration, rocking and reeling with a joyful abandon that left a wake of bulging eyes and gaping mouths. The Electric Light Orchestra had arrived in America. [...] [American Move fan's] 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 (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.

"Jeff Lynne joined Wood in the Move before heading up Elo [sic] and he subsequently led them to two massive hits in recent months- Roll Over Beethoven and his own Showdown."
Ron McCreight (December 8, 1973 - Record World)

"...their first on Warners- On The Third Day by the Electric Light Orchestra- this includes their two hit singles Roll Over Beethoven and Showdown."
Ron McCreight (December 22, 1973 - Record World)
Editor's Note: Roll Over Beethoven was never on On The Third Day.

"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))

"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 - Screen & Heard, 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 - Screen & Heard, article entitled A Spaceship Shaped Like A Lightbulb)

"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)

"All I'll tell yer, whenever I walk up to that neon machine [jukebox] I hunt for one thing in particular, and that's Roll Over Beethoven from ELO. I'm not that only one-- for every darned time I walk into a pub, der's old Jeff Lynne and his cats playin' de fiddle and de guitar, and de drumblies. [...] Jeff, as is shown here, was maybe more responsible for the style of writing [rock 'n' roll orchestra songs] for this unusual ensemble than maybe Woody was. For a nice start, there's the prolonged version of the Chuck Berry classic of classics-- Beethoven wouldn't just roll in his grave, he'd get up and play with it! Suppose there's a lot about who'll snarl and tut-tut at the 'misuse' of strings and french horns, and cellos. But, it ain't no misuse when it's well thought-out, well delivered and damned well written."
Ray Hollingsworth (1973 - Melody Maker)

"Crashing like a torpedo into the early days of 1973, a record called Roll Over Beethoven burst apart a dormant music scene, leaving a wake of bulging eyes and gaping mouths. It was that kind of record. At a time when the unexpected in music was, well, unexpected, Roll Over Beethoven brought in a new twist with each succeeding verse, the whole thing driving with a relentless abandon that kept listeners rapt with wonderment. The Electric Light Orchestra had arrived in America. [...] ...in 1973 Roll Over Beethoven became the first American smash hit for the group, after weeks of being #1 in England."
Essida Shirley (January 1974 - Hit Parader)

"There's two instrumentals on [On The Third Day] as well and I suppose In The Hall Of The Mountain King was put on by popular request, as we tend to do that as our encore number. It was the only thing we could follow Roll Over Beethoven with because the crowds really went crazy over that number in the States."
Bev Bevan (February 2, 1974 - Record Mirror)

"Yeah, we play some serious stuff-- well, let's just say: as serious as we want it to be. But we've always managed to offset that part of our programme with some harmless nonsense. That was the reason we came up with Roll Over Beethoven and In The Hall Of The Mountain King. We weren't doing any rowdy rockers at the time and we thought it would be good fun to arrange them for our instrumentation as a bit of a laugh."
Jeff Lynne (March 2, 1974 - Melody Maker)

"The Electric Light Orchestra has the distinction of bringing Beethoven to the AM airways last year. Granted, it was played on a Moog, and strangely legitimized by a heavy dose of updated Chuck Berry, but it was a feat of distinction at any rate."
Mark Dorsett (May 1, 1974 - The Daily Texan)

"It was a bit strange to see the band having a hit with Roll Over Beethoven when they have so much good material themselves. However, they'd been doing the number onstage as a bit of light relief, and it had been going down so well, so they thought it would be as well to release it."
Rosaline Russell (early 1974 - Disc)

"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)

"Lynne soldiered on alone (for comparitively so), and came up with a single of Chuckleberry's Roll Over Beethoven that was by far the best musical joke of it year..."
Charles Shaar Murray (December 14, 1974 - New Musical Express)

"That sound [using Barcus Berry pickups] took off in striking fashion last year with the success of Roll Over Beethoven, wherein Chuck Berry meets Ludwig van. Though not really representative of the range of ELO's musical ambitions, it conveniently furnished them with momentum."
Richard Cromelin (December 19, 1974 Rolling Stone)

"The Orchestra's subsequent hit singles suggested a lack of originality. Tartin' up Roll Over Beethoven with bits of the composer's work was a pleasant, jokey idea, but not quite the refreshing, amalgam of rock and classics sketched out in the blueprint."
Bob Edmands (February 1975 - New Musical Express)

"Last year, on the strength of ever-swelling ranks of stateside Move cultists and two moderately successful singles-- Roll Over Beethoven and Ma Ma Belle [sic]-- the Move [sic] came to the colonies for an extended tour."
Ellen Mandell (February, 1975 - Circus Raves)

"And the recipe worked well, with the ELO earning two smash hits in Britain in 1973 with Roll Over Beethoven-- to which Lynne added a piece of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony-- and Showdown, which was more R&B than anything else."
Brian Harrigan (Fall 1975 - Melody Maker)

"It seems perfectly feasible that if American kids treat ELO's Roll Over Beethoven as their national anthem, then British kids could follow suit, and do it in a more frenzied, more spectacular fashion than their Campus Cousins."
Jan Iles (January 17, 1976 - Record Mirror & Disc)

"When I did ELO II [sic], I thought you had to do long numbers. Otherwise people would think there was something wrong with us. So we had an 11 minute version of Roll Over Beethoven, incredible. I find it impossible to listen to, now. Boring, really boring."
Bob Edmands (April 1976 - New Musical Express)

"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)

"[The Light Shines On includes] raucous rockers like Roll Over Beethoven in which Berry meets Ludwig in a head-on crash."
David Brown (March 30, 1977 - Record Mirror)

"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)

"Best known from ELO II is the groups version of Chuck Berry's classic Roll Over Beethoven. Bevan: 'It was the most obvious idea in the world, to start with a portion of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and segue into Roll Over Beethoven but no one had ever done it before and it became our first hit.'"
Jim Evans (November 12, 1977 - Record Mirror)

"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)

"[ELO's] first click was Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven, with a contrapuntal splice of Beethoven s Fifth."
Fred Hauptfuhrer (February 13, 1978 - People magazine)

"In 1973, ELO 2, bearing the hit single Roll Over Beethoven was released. [...] On ELO 2, ELO were deadly serious in their adaptation of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, making the song a statement of intent and hence the band's anthem."
Harry Doherty (May 27, 1978 - Melody Maker)

"We never learned [Roll Over Beethoven] originally as a number to record, but instead as a stage number to use in our act. You see, at the time we weren't well known, and the audience was taking a one hour set of unknown material. Sometimes that's hard to take, so we thought it would be good to throw in something they were familiar with; we chose Roll Over Beethoven. We played it for several months on stage, and it got real popular in England. People said that we should release it as a single, so we included it on our first album. [Editor's Note: actually, it was on the second ELO album] It was the strength of that single that we did our first American tour."
Bev Bevan (July 21, 1978 - Performance magazine)

"[ELO had] their first hit in 1973, an inflated version of Roll Over Beethoven."
Mikal Gilmore (August 24, 1978 - Rolling Stone #272)

"ELO II, with Richard Tandy on keyboards, is heralded by many as the true beginnning of the now-classic ELO sound. It also contained the hit, Roll Over Beethoven."
Jackie Kallen (Summer 1978 - 1978 Pontiac Silverdome concert program)

"One such favorite [classical piece of the band] was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, whose main theme was segued by Jeff Lynne into Chuck Berry's immortal Roll Over Beethoven on ELO II providing the group with its first U.S. hit and one of their consistent live showstoppers."
Unknown (May 1979 - Discovery press kit)

"ELO recorded their second album at Air Studios London and ELO II contained a track which had originally been intended only as a live encore but became one of their best and most successful singles, Roll Over Beethoven. Continuing the themes of Beethoven's chief d'oeuvre the Fifth Symphony, with Chuck Berry's rock anthem it became the definitive example of what they had set out to accomplish-- a complete and attractive fusion of rock and classical music. It gave the group their second British Top 10 hit and also had an impact on the European markets and entered the Top 50 in America, opening the way for the band's first US tour in '73."
James Parade (June 16, 1979 - Record Mirror)

"One such favorite [classical piece to include] was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, whose main theme was sequed by Jeff Lynne into Chuck Berry's immortal Roll Over Beethoven on ELO II providing the group with its first U.S. hit and one of their consistent live showstoppers."
Unknown (November 1979 - Song Hits magazine)

"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)

"There were disagreements when the band hit with Roll Over Beethoven, a clever mix of Chuck Berry and Tchaikovsky. Roy Wood felt there should be less Classics and more Rock 'n' Roll and left to form Wizzard."
Chris Welch (March 1982 - IM & RW)
Editor's Note: The author distorts many facts here. Roll Over Beethoven was not a mix of Chuck Berry and Tchaikovsky, but rather Chuck Berry and Beethoven. (Duh!) And the song was produced after Roy Wood left the band, so it had no bearing on Roy's leaving the band.

"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)

"EMI/Harvest were obviously very surprised that this LP [The Light Shines On] did not become the commercial success they had hoped, and in 1979, undaunted, they released Showdown/Roll Over Beethoven on 7-inch coupling (Harvest HAR 5179), completely unchanged [from the 1977 re-issue], apart from lack of writing on the label. However, in a rare burst of originality, they also put [it] out as a 12-inch single (Harvest 12-5179). Roll Over Beethoven was advertised as an 'extended version', but was of course the ELO 2 version. Its mint value is 3.5- 4, and the 7-inch version 1.50. It also featured (unlike the 7-inch), a picture sleeve similar to the 'new' album, imaginatively titled The Light Shines On Vol. 2, which was far less adventurous than it's predecessor. [...] [The 1986 First Movement album] features a nondescript illustrated cover, and some interesting, if at times rather odd, sleevenotes by Paul Cox. I mean, do you think that Nellie Takes Her Bow sounds like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlement? Or, From The Sun To The World resembles B Bumble And The Stingers? There are also some inaccuracies as well. Roll Over Beethoven is not the first track on ELO 2, nor is From The Sun To The World the longest (that honour goes to Kuiama). [...] In complete contrast is the side closer, Roll Over Beethoven, which is the full length version of the single, about three minutes longer. What can I say about this song that hasn't already been said? It's something of an anthem nowadays, and it's common knowledge amongst fans that it's been played at ever gig since 1973. Speaking personally, I find it slightly sad that with all the great songs Jeff has written, Roll Over Beethoven is still the encore. Although just about everyone in the band loosens up for this song, and turns in some dynamite playing (particularly Bev), they all go rather overboard, and the goes on far too long. (There is in fact, an even longer version of Roll Over Beethoven, which is available on the US copy of ELO 2, and also on the OLE ELO [sic] compilation album, which is easily available on import). Indeed, this is the major criticism I have about ELO 2. The shortest song is just under 7 minutes in length, and nearly all of them outstay their welcome."
Andrew Whiteside (1987 - Face The Music fanzine #2)

"...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)

"[Flashback includes] Roll Over Beethoven (the song that brought ELO to the American top 40 for the first time in 1973)."
Unknown (October 2000 - Flashback press kit)

"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)

"The [Flashback] set emcompasses the group's 21 U.S. and U.K. chart singles, ranging in time from the seminal 10538 Overture ('the very birth of the realization of the sound,' says Lynne, recorded in 1970 with Roy Wood when they were still in the Move) and Roll Over Beethoven (the song that brought ELO to the American top 40 for the first time in 1973 all the way to Calling America (ELO's final top 20 hit of 1986)."
Unknown (February 2001 - Zoom press kit)

"...it was not until summer '72, when the [Electric Light Orchestra] LP's brilliant single 10538 Overture (written and sung by Lynne) reached the U.K. Top 10, that ELO was truly launched."
Unknown (May 2001 - 2001 ELO remasters press kit)

"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 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)

"After Roy left, I had bundled the group back into the studio to record a new album. it was important to get something out quickly, to prove that the loss of Roy didn't necessarily spell the end of ELO. To cover for the loss of its main hit maker, I had encouraged them to release their version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven as the second single, replete with droll da-da-da-dah! classical intro. It was a wonderfully inventive stopgap, which also served to prove that having this extra 'classical' element to the band didn't make them boring. Sure enough, in January 1973, it became their second Top Ten hit. It was perfect. It kept the band in the public eye-- and bought us enough time to find out whether Jeff had it in him to come up with some hit material of his own."
Don Arden (2004 - Mr. Big)

"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 (February 16, 2007 - 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 (February 2, 2007 - On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record reissue review on cdreviews.com)

"By [Out Of The Blue] Lynne had developed the idea far beyond the cheesy primordial mashups like his Roll Over Beethoven..."
Rob Mitchum (March 1, 2007 - Pitchfork Media Out Of The Blue remaster review)

"Roll Over Beethoven, Electric Light Orchestra, originally by Chuck Berry. This syrupy, overwrought low point for ELO took a simple, rockin' call to arms and turned it into kitsch. More like bend over, Beethoven, which begs the question: What did Chuck Berry ever do to ELO?"
Ed Bumgardner (January 8, 2008 - Relish)

"Picking up where 2005's collection, All Over The World [The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra], left off, Ticket To The Moon [The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra Volume 2] gathers 20 additional cuts, some of them being obvious exclusions from the All Over The World. This second volume, just as the first, was compiled and supervised by ELO mainman, Jeff Lynne, and yet, both volumes still manage to exclude the band's first success in Roll Over Beethoven. The problem with this 'mistake' is that it either points to a third volume by its very exclusion, or it will simply be a glaring omission until Epic does a recompile a decade from now. [...] As a fan, I wish that I could point to a single track included here and say that this could have been left off in favor of adding Roll Over Beethoven, but I can't."
Matt Rowe (February 15, 2008 - Musictap)

"Their fantastic interpretation of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven and rock tracks such as Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, Do Ya, 10538 Overture and Rockaria to name a few, but then live, well they rocked too!"
Alun Williams (2008 - About.com Ticket To The Moon - The Very Best Of The Electric Light Orchestra Volume 2 album review)

"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)

"The second album, ELO 2, produced the first single to chart in the United States; charting at 6 in the U.K., Roll Over Beethoven charted at 42 on the U.S. Billboard. Though not a huge success, it was a precursor to the massive success they would enjoy in the United States in the coming decade."
Kayla Roth (2012 - South Central Music Bulletin Volume XI, Numbers 1-2 (Fall 2012 Spring 2013))

"The B-side [of Wizzard's See My Baby Jive], Bend Over Beethoven, credited to Hugh [McDowell] as composer, was a gentle dig at the expense of ELO, who had just charted with their second single Roll Over Beethoven. Jeff was 'a bit choked about it,' said Roy, 'but we only did it for a laugh, not to knock them.' Even more cheekily, the label bore ('The official follow-up to California Man.') after the composer credit. That had been added in a lighthearted moment by Roy, remembering that EMI's ads in the music press for ELO's Roll Over Beethoven had made a similar claim."
John Van Der Kiste (December 8, 2014 - Roy Wood: The Move, Wizzard and Beyond)

"[Roll Over Beethoven was originally recorded] by Chuck Berry. Oh did [ELO record a version]? I mean, Chuck Berry is an iconic, classic black rock 'n' roll singer and I always loved his stuff."
Cliff Richard (August 23, 2015 - Solid Gold Sunday on KISSFM)

"If much of their music demanded repeated listening and was far too long for daytime airplay on the radio, ELO did make one concession to radio-friendly commerciality. During rehearsals the group realised they were rather short of material and needed something for an encore, so somebody suggested that like many a group before them in time-honoured fashion they should play something from the Chuck Berry songbook. There was one obvious Berry title which seemed tailor-made for an outfit that prided itself on mixing rock and the classics Roll Over Beethoven. This and Great Balls of Fire had been in the live set almost from the beginning, as the group s way of defining themselves as a rock group with classical instruments, with the former s title being particularly appropriate. Initially they tried it with a few bars of Beethoven s Ninth Symphony, until they realised that the opening bars of the Fifth would fit far better. While they were recording it in September, as Jeff fondly recalled many years later, Paul McCartney and Wings were in the studio next door recording Live And Let Die, with George Martin producing them as he had done in the days of The Beatles. George came to have a listen to the new version of the rock n roll standard which he had overseen as a cover version on the second album by his most famous clients nine years before, and he gave a nod of approval. The full album version lasted seven minutes, but a four-and-a-half-minute edit was released as a single in January 1973. The press ads showed a drawing of Beethoven with his fingers in his ears, above the strapline 'The follow-up to California Man.' Copies with the initial B-side, Manhattan Rumble, were withdrawn and re-pressed with Queen Of The Hours instead. Music press, radio, and TV reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and it entered the chart at No. 28, peaking at No. 6. As Jeff said, it was unbeatable as a live number, and 'you can t help but tap your foot to it.' What the writer would have made of it, he never knew. A while later he saw Chuck in a coffee shop, but I didn t fancy going up to him in case he said, You messed up my song. Of course, Chuck would have been justified in pointing out that the lyrics were incorrect. When the backing track had been completed, Jeff realised that he did not know the words properly, so they rang Bev s record shop, Heavyhead. The assistant obligingly played the record, a bit at a time, and read the words to him over the phone. It took about an hour to get all the words, 'and they were wrong anyway!' History does not tell us whether Jeff actually bought the record as well and duly sent the receipt to his accountant or not. In America, interest was building in the group, and the single reached No. 42 on the Billboard charts. [...] Reaction to the second album was good, and it reached No. 62 in the album chart, while Roll Over Beethoven peaked at No. 42 as a single. [...] During [\Hugh McDowell's] year with Roy Wood and Wizzard he had contributed the B-side to their first No. 1, See My Baby Jive, an instrumental Bend Over Beethoven. The obvious mickey-take was not really appreciated by Jeff or the rest of the group, but his musical skills as well as his suitability meant that he got the job."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"Remember, ELO married Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven with a motif from Beethoven s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor and employed classical references, often with sly wit."
Jim Fusilli (November 16, 2015 - The Wall Street Journal)

"ELO 2 impressed America with its string-driven version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven."
Mark Blake (November 2015 - Classic Rock magazine)

"The album ELO2 was released during January 1972. This produced another hit single. A classical reworking of Chuck Berry's Roll over Beethoven."
Pete Clemons (April 18, 2016 - Coventry Telegraph)

"On ELO 2 there were harsh prog workouts, such as In Old England Town (Boogie No. 2), 11-minute anti-war tirades (Kuiama), pretty ballads (Momma), and Chuck Berry rewrites (Roll Over Beethoven)."
Paul Lester (April 2016 - Prog magazine)

"But Lynne carried on with an expanded line-up [after Roy Wood left], and the album was moderately successful, breaking the UK Top 40 and yielding the band s second Top 10 hit, a version of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven, a natural fit for ELO."
Paul Elliott (December 19, 2016 - Teamrock.com)

"ELO were hailed as the new Beatles by the Beatles themselves, so it was appropriate that Jeff Lynne would launch his band with the same cover [Roll Over Beethoven] that had launched the Fab Four a decade prior. Rather than aiming for raw rock n roll, this version is an over-the-top fantasia, a mash-up that combines Chuck Berry with the title composer s Fifth Symphony. Wearing its synths like pancake make-up and its drums like towering high heels, the song is ridiculous in the most exciting way imaginable, but only hints at the spectacular soundscapes Lynne would dream up later in the decade."
Stephen Deusner (January 5, 2017 - Stereogum online magazine article entitled '34 Essential Glam Songs')

"It's interesting that the second ELO track wasn't a Jeff Lynne track. It was a cover. It had already been a hit, so it was a proven hit. So they decided to do Roll Over Beethoven. They didn't risk a Jeff Lynne song, you might say."
Bill Hunt (January 28, 2017 - FROME.FM 96.6FM)

"Berry released Roll Over Beethoven in 1956 and it quickly became a rock and roll anthem, an announcement that the genre didn t give a damn about old-fashioned cultural hierarchies that elevated classical music above all else. The song reached No. 7 on Billboard s R&B chart. Roll Over Beethoven was subsequently embraced by a younger generation of aspiring rockers. The Beatles recorded a cover version for their second U.K. LP, With the Beatles. The Fab Four stuck closely to Berry s vision; their Roll Over Beethoven was concise and compact, a sub-three-minute wallop. In a marked contrast, Electric Light Orchestra s cover of Roll Over Beethoven from a decade later transformed the speeding bullet original into something more flowery and ornate. The ELO track opened with snippets of Beethoven s 5th symphony before moving into a tight, pelting Berry homage. But soon the strings returned, and the song s final minutes played out as a wild musical struggle between Berry and Beethoven. The whole thing stretches out past the eight minute mark."
Elias Leight (April 8, 2017 - Rolling Stone issue 1317)

"I got [an American] Top 40 hit with Roll Over Beethoven."
Jeff Lynne (mid 2017 - We Write The Songs)

"[How did I] decide to do Roll Over Beethoven? You know, it was a long, long time ago. It was one of the first things I thought of, being like a pseudo or semi-pseudo classical influenced rock 'n' roll pop pseudo, you know, whatever. I thought, what a perfect song to introduce some classical strings into a rock 'n' roll number. It is Roll Over Beethoven because of Beethoven's Fifth. And that's all it was. It was the simplest idea I've ever had and it was good one 'cause we still do the same encore, forty-five years later. "
Jeff Lynne (November 16, 2017 - interview at Clive Davis Theater for Wembley Or Bust screening)

"Now ELO s sole leader, Lynne was also honing his vocal chops while making ELO 2, which might be part of the reason he employed a cheap microphone to disguise his singing on the band s cover of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven. Regardless, Lynne s raw vocals and blazing guitar became the counterpoint to proggy synths and the driving strings (which quoted actual works by the titular composer). Released as a single (which edited down the album version to a more radio-friendly four and a half minutes), Roll Over Beethoven became a big hit for ELO, rising to No. 6 on the charts in the band s native Britain and perhaps helping ELO 2 become a Top 40 album when it was released in January 1973. ELO s epic cover also become the band s first hit in the U.S., going to No. 42. In his 1980 biography, drummer Bevan said that Roll Over Beethoven was 'perhaps the most important single we ever made.' Although Beethoven was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, the single s parent album differed in how it was presented in Europe and North America. While the U.K. version of ELO 2 featured a cartoony cover of a light bulb in space, created by legendary design group Hipgnosis (those responsible for iconic sleeves for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin), the U.S. edition sported a starker version of the same concept. It also had a different title (Electric Light Orchestra II) and contained an even longer version of Roll Over Beethoven (which was an accident made by ELO s stateside label, United Artists). Meanwhile, ELO 2 would be the group s last studio album with English label Harvest, because ELO would jump to Warner Bros. for On the Third Day released later in 1973. It was also the last of the band s albums to be credited to 'The' Electric Light Orchestra; the group would drop the article from then on. 'The' was gone, but ELO s version of Roll Over Beethoven has remained a big part of the band s live incarnations. Through the 70s and 80s and in Lynne s most recent touring version of ELO, the symphonic twist on Chuck Berry continues to be the group s preference for an encore."
Bryan Wawzenek (January 16, 2018 - Ultimate Classic Rock online magazine)

"With this lush orchestral enhancement breathing new life into the band, they released the art rock The Electric Light Orchestra II [sic] in 1973, which produced their second UK top 10 single and their first US chart single a cover of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven."
Andrew Gutteridge (September 5, 2018 - Counteract website)

"The band s second single, Roll Over Beethoven announced ELO s unique sound and determination to blend two seemingly incompatible elements: orchestral music and straightforward rock."
Kit O'Toole (September 8, 2018 - Something Else)

"I first heard Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven sometime in the late fifties, and then of course the Beatles did it in 1963. I always thought it was weird that Chuck Berry played it in B-flat, which is not a guitar key at all. To this day, nobody that I know can explain why he wouldn't leave the strings open. It's only one fret, and just so much easier to play. But I remember loving the song, loving Chuck's voice and the simplicity of the guitar. That was the brilliant thing about Chuck Berry. He had so many things going for him-- he sounded great and it was fantastic rock 'n' roll. Anybody could play that in a day, and that's all you have to do. He was brilliant at it. My version of Roll Over Beethoven is quite different. It's got some daft classical bits in it; Beethoven intermingled throughout the rock 'n' roll, and it's fun to do, and I like playing it."
Jeff Lynne (November 2018 - Wembley Or Bust book)

"Has there ever been a weirder pop single than ELO s version of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven?"
Jed Gottlieb (December 15, 2018 - Boston Herald)

"Once again following in the Beatles’ footprints, Lynne borrows from the Chuck Berry songbook and crafts one of the most satisfying cover songs in rock ‘n’ roll history. Berry’s 1956 original is a brilliant adrenaline shot that runs just under 2 1/2 minutes. But ELO’s reworking stretches out over 8 glorious minutes, without ever losing an ounce of the song’s original power or urgency."
Jim Harrington (June 17, 2019 - The Mercury News)

"ELO 2 was a somewhat tentative step forward, with the gorgeous, epic Kuiama offset by a drudging, overstuffed cover of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven."
Ned Lannamann (June 20, 2019 - Portland Mercury)

"With equal parts symphonic prog rock wedded to Lynne s knack for Beatle-esque melodies and stick-in-your-head riffs, the band became rock radio mainstays through the seventies, racking up massive sales with singles such as Do Ya, Livin Thing and an enduring version of Chuck Berry s Roll Over Beethoven (the first big hit)."
Stuart Derdeyn (June 26, 2019 - Vancouver Sun)

"Aside from the robust rendition of Roll Over Beethoven that rattled the radio airwaves in early 1973 and put Electric Light Orchestra on the musical map, my real introduction to this British band led by Jeff Lynne came with the album, On the Third Day, which spawned what I still consider one of rock s truly underrated classics, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle."
John Sinkevics (July 24, 2019 - Local Spins website)

"Throughout the Seventies [Jeff Lynne] created a multitude of Top Ten smashes, including Mr Blue Sky, Roll Over Beethoven, Evil Woman and Livin Thing."
Adrian Deevoy (October 26, 2019 - Daily Mail)

"There s a story about Beatles producer George Martin popping in to listen to ELO recording Roll Over Beethoven at AIR Studios in 1972. He was doing Paul s Live And Let Die in the studio next door, so he came in and gave Roll Over Beethoven a thumbs-up. He actually sat and listened intently to it all the way through, because it was a bit of a strange arrangement with all those classical things in there. It was a great experience, and I got to know him a little bit then."
Jeff Lynne (February 5, 2020 - Classic Rock website)

"...a blustery interpretation of Roll Over Beethoven that also marked the band s first appearance on the U.S. singles charts, peaking at #42."
Thomas Kintner (April, 2020 - Best Classic Bands website)

SURELY TRUE
listenThis sample is first part 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.
Surely it was not intentionally done, but Roll Over Beethoven has had an incredibly bad edit in plain sight for many years that was only recently solved. After the final vocal line, a brief blip is heard. With the 2003 release of the "Take 1" version, which included the band's additional (and silly) lyrics, the mystery is solved. In this "Take 1" version, 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!


  • Running Time: 7:03
  • 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)

  • Released On:
    • ELO 2 LP album (1973 March 2 — UK — Harvest SHVL 806)
    • Showdown LP album (1974 — UK — Harvest SHSP 4037)
    • The Light Shines On Vol 2 LP album (1979 — UK — Harvest SHSM 2027)
    • Showdown/Roll Over Beethoven 12" single (1979 March — UK — Harvest 12-HAR 5179)
    • ELO 2 LP album (1983 — UK — Fame FA 30003)
    • Early ELO (1971-1973) CD album (1991 August — UK — EMI Records Ltd. CDS 79 7471 2)
    • The Gold Collection CD album (1996 — UK — EMI Gold 9 37162 2) [the mellotron intro is attached to the end of Mama on this collection]
    • ELO 2 Remaster CD album (2003 March 31 — UK — EMI 5 43329 2)
    • The Collection CD album (2006 March 13 — UK — EMI 3 55978 2)
    • The Collection digital album (2006 March 13 — UK — EMI 094635597851)
    • ELO II Remaster CD album (2006 March 28 — USA — Epic/Legacy 82796 94277 2)
    • ELO II Remaster digital album (2006 March 28 — USA — Epic/Legacy 827969427729)
    • The Harvest Years 1970-1973 CD album (2006 July 31 — UK — EMI 3 60078 2)
    • The Harvest Years 1970-1973 digital album (2006 July 31 — UK — EMI 094636007854)
    • The Classic Albums Collection CD boxed set (2011 November — USA — Epic 8 89978 73262 0)
    • The Classic Albums Collection CD boxed set (2011 November 14 — UK — Epic 8 89978 73262 0)
    • The Classic Albums Collection digital album (2014 June 10 — UK — Epic/Legacy 886444622653)
    • The Classic Albums Collection digital album (2014 June 10 — USA — Epic/Legacy 886444622660)
    • ELO 2 digital album (2014 November 24 — UK — Rhino 724354332852)
    • ELO 2 LP album (2016 March 18 Europe Parlophone 0825646486885)
    • Jeff Lynne Songbook digital album (2019 April 19 — UK — Warner Music Group ?)

  • Top UK Chart Position: 6
  • Top US Chart Position: 42