Statement from Phil Bates placed on april 9th - 2014:
Recently there has been a newspaper article in the UK talking about the situation with Jeff Lynne and me. Unfortunately, some things were said in this article that were completely wrong.
I have spoken to the newspaper and they promised to print another article telling my side of the story ....but so far they have not done this.
I would like to make another statement on my website if that is possible. It will be good in some ways because I will tell everyone via FaceBook to visit the website to read the statement, so we should have more visitors.
The statement is below:-
'Recently, on my birthday as it happens, the Birmingham Mail printed a story which accused me of being a 'copycat' and that me performing ELO music was 'illegal'. Having contacted Paul Cole, who wrote the original article, and who failed to research the facts thoroughly enough before he went to press, I received a promise that my side of the story, i.e. the truth of the situation, would be printed. As I write, no such article has appeared.
I know that in the grand scheme of things this is a very small and insignificant incident. But I will not have my personal and professional integrity slurred in the way this article, and all that contributed to it, have done.
The truth is that neither Jeff Lynne or his representatives have EVER been in touch with me or my agent/promoter in Germany directly to complain about the way we operate in Europe, or beyond. Neither have they requested us to stop doing what we are doing. Neither have they accused me personally of doing anything 'illegal'.
There has been contact on two occasions, and don't forget that I have been doing this in Germany for 11 years. Earlier this year, Jeff Lynne's representatives contacted one of the venues on our South African tour, the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, to complain about their online advertising of our concert. In this complaint they were completely correct because the concert was billed wrongly as ELO. This happened despite our endless directives to promoters everywhere to advertise our concerts correctly, the correct billing is also contained in ALL contracts for various gigs/concerts. The correct billing is 'ELO CLASSICS performed by PHIL BATES and band, plus the BERLIN STRING ENSEMBLE'. I see absolutely NOTHING ambiguous about this. Our six piece band is billed 'THE MUSIC OF ELO performed by PHIL BATES and band' ....equally unambiguous. But, in South Africa, the mistake was acknowledged and corrected, and the concerts went ahead as planned, and nothing more was heard.
But I have to re-iterate that ANY time any of my projects are billed or advertised incorrectly, the fault ALWAYS lies with the local promoter, who will have ignored the contract stipulations and telephone/email instructions, and gone ahead and done his own thing.
Contrary to some of the comments I have read since this article, I do NOT think I am Jeff Lynne, or that my band is ELO. Neither do I want to be Jeff Lynne in any way shape or form. Neither am I a 'copycat'. I am involved in many different musical projects which cover a pretty wide range of musical styles, and always have been. The reason I became a musician, and why I remain a musician is because I love diversity, and love to be involved in diverse musical situations. Playing Jeff Lynne's fantastic songs is just a part of that diversity. Anyone that take the time to read my biography will recognise this.
Whilst I do not enjoy being criticised or insulted, I recognise that people have their opinions and, of course, they have the right to voice these opinions. But before anyone leaps to judgement, all I ask is that they do it on the basis of having the facts, knowledge and truth at their disposal.
And a BIG THANK YOU to all those that have supported me during this ...or at least have not jumped to hasty conclusions.'
First message from Phil Bates
I have been thinking recently about my situation, my position, my status ...whatever you want to call it ...in relation to Jeff Lynne and ELO.
With this in mind, I felt I would like to clarify, to those who feel there might be some ambiguity, my feelings towards my current projects, The Music of ELO and ELO Klassik ...or variants thereof.
I play the music of Jeff Lynne and ELO for very clear reasons. Of course, I need to earn a living, and this has proven to be the best way for me to do this. I am like pretty much everyone else in the world ...I have a mortgage, I have bills, I have had kids to feed, clothe, support and educate ...and everyone knows how expensive and challenging that can be, especially when you are prey to the vagaries of the music business. Additionally, I have never, as some people might feel, ‘made a fortune’ out of my association with ELO Part2, the Orchestra, or my other ELO related projects.
The other key reasons that I do this are .... I love the music; I have the utmost respect and admiration for what Jeff Lynne has achieved; and I have been made VERY aware over the years that there are literally thousands of fans of ELO music throughout the world, and they want to hear ir played ‘live’. If this were not the case, we wouldn’t play to large and very appreciative audiences all over Europe. And I have to say that these fans have probably not been served as well as they could have been over the years. But, have no doubt, Jeff Lynne is up there with Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Freddie Mercury etc etc as one of the all-time great songwriters in the pop/rock area ....no doubt about it.
My attitude towards Jeff Lynn and his music is ALWAYS respectful in the way I and my band arrange and perform the songs in a ‘live’ context. It could not be any other way because this is what I feel. Whenever it is appropriate, I express my respect and admiration for Jeff’s achievements, whether in my stage announcements, or during media interviews.
In absolutely NO way do I ever attempt to advertise or market my band/projects as ‘Electric Light Orchestra’. If this sometimes happens, it is ALWAYS as a result of a local promoter ignoring the instructions and intentions of myself and my representatives, Sounds Promotion. Sometimes we only discover this when we arrive in the town/city we are playing in. Anyone who cared to inspect the source material, i.e. our posters, handouts, flyers, press releases etc would see that this is true.
One other thing has become clear over the years, and this is that there is some confusion in the minds of music lovers and concert-goers, who are not perhaps ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ ELO fans, exactly who is who, and who did what in ELO, and also confusion over the difference between ELO and ELO Part2. This comes up time and time again, and it is not of my making. Rather it is partly because there was never a ‘face’ of ELO. The overriding visual image of the band is more to do with the spaceship, space imagery, laser light shows etc etc, and of course, the presence of violins/cellos within a rock band.....(not forgetting ‘beards’ .....facial topiary plays a large part in the ELO myth as well J) In this way, I have found, both with my current projects, and with ELO Part2 in the past, that the majority of people are predominantly interested in the music, how well it is played and sung, how good the concert looks etc etc.
My overriding impression is that it is those fantastic songs and arrangements that people have always loved, and continue to love.....over and above everything else.
Of course, everyone would be happy if Jeff Lynne decided to come out of his retirement from ‘live’ concerts and play this fantastic music to his fans all over the world, but while that is not happening, I see no reason why I, with my current projects, or the Orchestra, should not continue to play this music to those who want to hear it.
After all, the music industry is VERY much a market-controlled industry. If there is no market, the product will not be successful. So, as long I am physically able to stand up on a stage and do justice to this music, and as long as there are people who want to come and hear me do it .... I will carry on doing it .... alongside my own music, and other music that has made my live worth living since I was born 60 years ago.
To close ...I quote a Beatlesque bard ....’Peace and love ...peace and love ....’ to all.