By Martin Kinch

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio Sponsored Number One Marathon - 1997

Martin Kinch: OK, it's July, 1980, and "Xanadu" by ELO and Olivia Newton-John has just knocked Don McLean's "Crying" from the top of the charts, and as an exclusive to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, we have, not Olivia Newton-John, but Bev Bevan, the drummer from ELO. Hello Bev.

Bev Bevan: Hello Martin.

MK: Thanks for joining us on this marathon weekend.

BB: Yeah, good luck, you're doing a great job, I think it's a fabulous idea.

MK: Now you actually performed on two Number Ones, didn't you?

BB: Yes, well, I played drums on "Blackberry Way", for The Move.

MK: And also this one that we're just about to play.

BB: Yes, this is several years later, "Xanadu" with ELO, yeah.

MK: Did you have any idea that this record was going to go to the top of the charts?

BB: No, I didn't really, didn't expect it to, actually, I was never a great fan of the record, I can't say it's one of my favorites by any means, but it obviously caught the public's imagination.

MK: And were you all sitting around the radio at the time when the charts were read out or not?

BB:Well in those days, you used to know, a little before, you'd know, certainly a day before, So we had the news from our office to say that it had gone to number one. Obviously we were delighted, of course we were.

MK:It was written for a film of the same name obviously, But the film didn't get the best reviews, did it? Did that sort of rub off onto your career do you think, or not?

BB: I think it probably did, I mean, we only did five songs for the soundtrack album for "Xanadu". And I think the album itself stands up very well, I think our side of the album is good, and so is Olivia's actually. But, when you put it in the movie, a couple just go to see the movie, then, it did get really terrible, terrible reviews, I mean, it is, I think it's known as "one of the great turkeys of all time", you know, "one of the worst musicals ever made", that's what it's rated as by many film critics. So, um, yeah, I think we did get a bit tainted with that, and it didn't do our 'street cred' much good.It was just a very strange movie, really, obviously Olivia was in it and there was a guy playing opposite her who was some unknown, who I think has remained pretty much unknown since, and Gene Kelly, I mean that was another weird introduction to the casting list.

MK:So of all the ELO hits, I believe you've had about twenty-eight, you wouldn't actually regard it as one of your favorites, although it's one of the most successful, I suppose?

BB: That's right, yeah, I think it's probably, if not the least, of all the hits we've ever had it's certainly one of my least favorites, I must say, yeah.

MK: Would you like to get involved in doing music for a film again?

BB: Uhhh....Yeah, in fact I wouldn't mind at all.... But...maybe something where we had a bit more control. When we made this, we made the music for this, we didn't quite know what the film was going to be all about, the music was written pretty much first. But it was a really difficult song to record because Jeff had sent the demo, Jeff Lynne had sent the demo of the song to the studio in Hollywood, and they had actually shot the dance sequence to the demo. So when we came to record it for real, we had to keep in time with the demo, and the demo was not in time, so... it was a bit of a nightmare to actually record the thing.

MK: The actual music on the film is different than the released version, isn't it?

BB: I believe it is, yeah, it's all to do with, you know, the shooting of the film to this inaccurate tape which was, it took us days and days to actually record the backing track, which was a very simple song to record, really, because of all the technical problems. We were in Munich, in West Germany at the time doing it, and it became a very frustrating experience, making what should have taken a couple of hours took about three or four days, as I remember.

MK:I believe the album is being released in the UK for the first time on CD this year, is that right?

BB: Yeah, well, I think, as I said, It'll be interesting to hear it in CD form. I think, just listening to it, it's fine. I mean, working with Olivia was a great experience, because she's a lovely, lovely lady, and a real pleasure to work with. So that part was terrific, you know, but as I say, it was hard work, because of all the technical difficulties, really.

MK: So did you actually record it in the studio with her, or was it done at different times?

BB: No, she came over, she flew over with her assistant, a girl called Fler, who, funnily enough, designed a lot of our stage clothes some years before that, another Australian girl, and they came up, they flew over to Munich, and just spent two days doing the vocals, and as I say she was just terrific.

MK: Up in the attic I've got a big cardboard cutout of Olivia Newton-John holding up a big ELO logo, I'll have to get it out one day and dust it down a bit.

BB: (laughing) What you have up in your attic Martin, is none of our business, really, if you want cardboard cutouts of Olivia Newton-John, I think that's, um, perfectly legal..

MK: Well I have to keep it up there out of the way, you see. (Bev laughs) Now we're going to play the track in a minute, let's just have a quick word about what you're up to now, because ELO actually split up in about 1986, and a few years later you formed ELO Part 2, what was the reason behind that?

BB: Well, just a desire to get back on the road playing what I still belive is, you know, is very good music, I think we, ELO recorded as you mentioned a lot of, over 20 hits, and people still want to hear them, luckily for us. So we've been touring as ELO Part 2 for... six, seven years now. And we just keep, you know, we just keep on touring... the world's become a very small place nowadays, we tour countries we never used to at all in the old days, we regularly find ourselves in Eastern Europe and South America, and the Middle East, places like that, as well as the places we used to tour before, you know, the rest of Europe, and the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, wherever... And so we're kept very busy, and we've just returned from a trip to the USA and New Zealand, and we're going back for another USA trip in May to do several concerts with various orchestras across America.

ELO Part II- Turn To Stone (Australia 1995)

MK: And are you doing anything in the UK, because it's actually your 25th anniversary this year, isn't it?

BB: It's 25 years since our first hit single, which was 10538 Overture, back in 1972. So yes, it is our 25th,our silver anniversary which is nice, and we will be doing a tour in October, we do quite a coast-to-coast tour really, of England, Scotland, Wales, and maybe even Ireland as well. And I think we do about 25 shows during October

MK: Right. And will there be any new material on CD or vinyl?

BB: Well, the last thing we actually recorded was an album called "One Night", which was recorded two years ago, live, in Australia, in Sydney, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which is a double CD, which actually came out really, really well for... I'm not a great fan generally of live albums, but I think this really catches our show very well, and the orchestra were exceptionally good as well. So, yeah, that's the last thing to be released, and that will be available at the same time as we're touring.

MK: It's a good album, I've actually got a copy of that, and I keep playing it down here at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, so...

BB: (laughing) Well, good for you....

MK: (laughing) We keep plugging....... Let me just ask you, Bev, if Part 2, say, if they were to split, would you ever get another band together? Would you be tempted to sort of drop the "Electric Light" thing and maybe start afresh, ...what would you do?

BB: I don't know, that's a hard question to answer, because I... who knows what circumstances might arise? I mean, if something happened to this band, when we do finally call it a day... um, no, I wouldn't want to do any more... um, ELO stuff, I'd just do "something... completely different", in the words of Monty Python. And, I've got a lot of, I still have some friends in the business, I mean, I like working with Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, we still hang around a lot together and, and work in his studio from time to time, I'd like to maybe work with him, or... or, who knows, Who knows who might get on the phone? If Paul McCartney phoned up, or Eric Clapton or somebody and said, you know, "Would you like to tour with me?", I'd say, "Yeah, why not?".

MK: Whatever you decide to do in the future, good luck with it.

BB: Thanks, Martin!

MK: And thanks for keeping the ELO music alive, speaking as a bit of a fan myself, as well. Let me just ask you one final question, I'll put you on the spot now. You've played on two Number Ones, which one would you like to be most remembered for?

BB: Ha! I suppose, given the choice of just those two, I would have to say "Blackberry Way" by The Move.

Blackberry Way by the Move live on the BBC show 'Colour Me Pop'


MK: Have you got any favorite tracks that you've actually recorded - your most favourite ?

BB:Oh, not "most favorite", I mean, I like most of the stuff that we've done with ELO, and most of the stuff that we did with The Move as well for that matter, I've got no particular favorites, they vary really. There's lots of stuff we've done with ELO Part 2 that I'm very fond of as well

MK: OK, well, good luck with the band anyway, Bev and we must move on because time is quite short for us. Thanks a lot for calling in, and thanks for your help and support that you've given the hospital radio over the years, because you have helped us out quite a few times, actually.

BB: Well you're very welcome, and good luck with the marathon, it sounds great, and keep up the good work.

MK: Thanks a lot, Bev.

BB: Cheers, then.

MK: 'Bye now.

BB: 'Bye.

Plays number one No 461 - Olivia Newton John & Electric Light Orchestra - Xanadu

Transcribed by:- Michael Lucas

This interview is Martin Kinch and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission

Bev Bevan at The Lorcano, Birmingham - 1981     Photo Martin Kinch

Bev Bevan at the Jam House, Birmingham - 2005     Photo Martin Kinch

Since this interview,Bev has left ELO Part II (Now known as The Orchestra)

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