The Story of... 'Mr Blue Sky' by Electric Light Orchestra

17 April 2019, 17:13 | Updated: 17 April 2019, 17:23

Mr Blue Sky
Picture: ELO/YouTube/Jet

By Tom Eames

ELO's 'Mr Blue Sky' is one of the world's most popular pop tunes of all time, thanks to its sunny and uplifting vibe and groundbreaking sound.

But who wrote 'Mr Blue Sky' and where has it been used in the world of pop culture? Here are all the fascinating facts:

  1. Who wrote 'Mr Blue Sky'?

    Jeff Lynne
    Jeff Lynne. Picture: Getty

    Like most ELO songs, bandleader Jeff Lynne wrote this classic.

    Lynne also produced the song, which was recorded for the band's Out of the Blue album in 1977.

    The song forms the fourth and final track of the 'Concerto for a Rainy Day' suite, on side three of the original double album, and was later released as a standalone single.

  2. What inspired Mr Blue Sky?

    Jeff Lynne has said that he wrote 'Mr Blue Sky' after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet, and attempting to write ELO's follow-up album to A New World Record.

    "It was dark and misty for two weeks, and I didn't come up with a thing," he told the BBC.

    "Suddenly the sun shone and it was, 'Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.' I wrote 'Mr Blue Sky' and 13 other songs in the next two weeks."

    The song's arrangement has been dubbed "Beatlesque", as it has similarities to Beatles songs 'Martha My Dear' and 'A Day in the Life', and it shares its unusual first four chords and harmonic rhythm with 'Yesterday'.

    For such an epic song, the song simply follows the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end.

  3. What instruments does it use?

    The song has a prominent use of a cowbell-like sound, which is credited on the album to percussionist Bev Bevan, as that of a "fire extinguisher."

    When the song is performed live, a drumstick is used to strike the side of a fire extinguisher, which produces the famous sound.

    The song also includes a heavily vocoded voice singing the phrase 'Mr Blue Sky'.

    A second vocoded segment at the end of the song is often incorrectly interpreted as saying 'Mister Blue Sky', but it is actually saying "Please turn me over", as it is the end of side three of the vinyl record, and the listener is being instructed to flip it over.

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    Amazingly, 'Mr Blue Sky' only reached number six in the UK chart in 1978.

    Even more amazingly, it only reached number 35 in the US!

    However, it has since become ELO's signature song, and has been one of the most downloaded and streamed songs of the 1970s.

  5. What films and TV shows has it been used in?

    The song has been used in many pop culture moments over the decades, including:

    - Megamind
    - Role Models
    - The Magic Roundabout
    - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    - Paul Blart: Mall Cop
    - The Game Plan
    - The Invention of Lying
    - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
    - Doctor Who
    - During the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics
    - The theme song to the short-lived series LAX
    - Before the start of every football match played by Birmingham City Football Club, nicknamed The Blues

  6. Who has covered it?

    Several artists have attempted to cover the classic track, including:

    - Lily Allen
    - Weezer
    - Mayer Hawthorne
    - The Delgados
    - Connie Talbot

    Ed Sheeran performed the song alongside ELO at the 2015 Grammys (see above).