Before George Harrison started any part of his 11th studio album, Cloud Nine, he needed a producer, and the first person that came to mind was Jeff Lynne, ironically. George once called Lynne a Beatles copycat. However, he realized how wrong he was and contacted Lynne.
After meeting, the former Beatle wanted to get to know the ELO frontman and producer before they started work. George had to make sure they’d be good songwriting partners. Lynne passed the test, and the pair began Cloud Nine. Once they started, George realized why he and Lynne worked well together.
George Harrison knew he wanted Jeff Lynne to help him with ‘Cloud Nine’ but had to get to know him first
Initially, George knew it was ironic that he wanted Lynne to produce Cloud Nine. However, that was the reason why George wanted the producer. If Lynne was a Beatles copycat, that was OK with George. He wanted someone who made music like him.
“I had to have somebody who I respected and who I felt had a legitimate input and, likewise, somebody who was aware of my past and wasn’t just going to crowd me out, or turn me into some sort of thing that I wasn’t,” George told Anthony DeCurtis (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters.)
“That’s all. So when I thought of Jeff, I hadn’t ever met him. I thought, just from his records, he would be really good if we sort of got on together. So it was really a question of, first of all, finding somebody to get in touch with him, and then meeting with him without saying, ‘Well look, right down the line try and make a record, and you’re it.’ I didn’t want to frighten the fellow away.”
George also wanted to get to know Lynne to see if they’d be good songwriting partners. In a 1987 interview with Entertainment Tonight, George explained that it was difficult sitting down to write songs with somebody after having written on his own for so long.
George explained, “I think it’s important you get to know each other to a point where you don’t have any fear about inhibition, so you don’t mind making a fool of yourself, then you’ve got all that out the way, and you’re able to begin.”