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Music

The Electric Light Orchestra song reclaimed from Todd Rundgren

@TylerGolsen

The history behind the Electric Light Orchestra’s 1977 hit single ‘Do Ya’ is surprisingly complicated. Like all of the band’s material, ‘Do Ya’ was written and arranged by ELO leader Jeff Lynne, but not during the sessions for 1976′ A New World Record. By the time ‘Do Ya’ was climbing the US charts, it had already been released twice by two different artists.

The first was by The Move, the British glam rock outfit that featured a number of future ELO members, including Lynne, Bev Bevens, and Roy Wood. Originally released in 1972, ‘Do Ya’ would be The Move’s final single, as most of the band’s members had already jumped ship to ELO for their first record, 1972’s The Electric Light Orchestra.

The Move’s version of the song just barely scraped onto the Billboard Hot 100 and was still largely an obscure track when Todd Rundgren and his band Utopia began covering the song. Utopia’s version was a part of their live concerts and was even included on the band’s 1975 live album Another Live. With this new wrinkle, Lynne decided that he wanted to reclaim ‘Do Ya’ for himself.

“I always thought [Do Ya] was a good song, y’know. I was always very pleased with it,” Lynne explained on ‘The Robert W. Morgan Special of the Week’ radio show in 1976. “It was so popular still, when we’d play it on stage, a lot of the audience knew ‘Do Ya’. And so I decided it would be nice to make it into an ELO song ’cause it was me, uh… I think it’s one of me good songs.”

Bevan’s was a little more straightforward about the decision. “We re-recorded ‘Do Ya’. That’s by public demand,” Bevans told Trouser Press in 1976. “Everyone else is doing it, so we figured we might as well.” According to an interview with Bevans a year later, it was the ignorance of a Midwest radio DJ that finally convinced ELO to formally adopt ‘Do Ya’ as their own.

“I did a radio interview at some radio station in the midwest or somewhere,” Bevans said in 1977. “And the guy said, ‘I saw the concert last night. I notice that you do ‘Do Ya’. Are you a Todd Rundgren fan?’ So I thought, well, that just about does it. So I told Jeff, and so he said, ‘Right, let’s just redo it and just let everybody know once and for all, we were the originators of it.'”

Ultimately, it doesn’t appear as though there were any hard feelings between Rundgren and Lynne. Rundgren had also been covering Lynne’s ‘Bluebird is Dead’ around the same time, but Lynne simply found ‘Do Ya’ to be the song that ELO had to make their own.

Check out a few versions of ‘Do Ya’ down below.

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