There is no doubt that Jeff Wayne's father has influenced the composer's development in a number of ways. Actor Jerry Wayne took his family from New York to England when he was appearing as the Gambler in the original production of "Guys and Dolls". Jeff Wayne was therefore introduced at an impressionable age to the UK and to the concept of stage musicals. The young Jeff then grew up in California and, although he had an interest in music, it was his second choice of career after initially setting out to study journalism. Then his father produced a musical play in London called "Two Cities" based on the Dicken's novel "A Tale of Two Cities", and Jeff quickly became immersed in the UK music scene. His father was also a big fan of the novel "The War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells and lent the book to his son Jeff suggesting that he could make a musical version. The result now holds a place in musical history and is now Jeff Wayne's best-known work. He acquired the rights to the story from the H. G. Wells estate and set to work. Not only did he composed some truly memorable themes for the musical, but he also secured the services of prestigious musicians and actors to work on the recording. The story is held together by the unmistakeable voice of Richard Burton's first person narration, and the rest of the cast includes David Essex, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott and Julie Covington.
As a student, Jeff Wayne played keyboards with various bands and was a pioneer of early synthesiser instruments. In the UK he initially composed advertising jingles and music for television, which provided him with a number of contacts in the rock music scene, and he went on to produce records for David Essex. David Essex's first album "Rock On" was a big success and the title track (composed by Essex for the movie "Stardust") became a No.1 hit. The relationship with Essex continued through the albums "David Essex" and "All the Fun of the Fair", and Essex also played a starring role in "The War of the Worlds" album. When Essex and Wayne parted company, the singer went on to play the part of Che Guevara in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita singing "Oh What a Circus". Another star role in "The War of the Worlds" was played by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues who sang "Forever Autumn" and Wayne subsequently produced Hayward's solo album called "Night Flights" as well as Tony Christie's "Easy to Love". Hoping but not succeeding to follow up on his "War of the Worlds" success, he also composed and produced a musical version of Spartacus, this time with Anthony Hopkins as the narrator and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
As a lifelong fan of the sport (again taught by his father) one of Wayne's most recent projects was as editor and publisher of "The Book of Tennis", and he is also creating a follow-on television series.
It has been announced that there will be another tour of "The War of the Worlds" in 2018, starting with Glasgow on 30th November and with several dates in December.
The Website of JWM Productions, the Jeff Wayne Music Group, has a mini-history of the company's productions. Although the group now has a number of composers, the early years hightlight Jeff Wayne's own career as a producer and composer of advertising jingles