The Origins of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds

Jeff Wayne discusses how he found the story that would become the multi-platinum award-winning double album:

“Around 1975, my father and I agreed to try and find a story that we felt could be turned into a musical work. Over the course of about a year, we read numerous books - most of them great stories, but none captured me enough to want to commit to.”

“The night before going on tour with David Essex as his Musical Director, my father came over to my house, to wish me good luck for the coming tour, and handed me another book to read - HG Wells’ The War of The Worlds.”  

Herbert George Wells was a Victorian English futuristic author best known for writing Science Fiction novels. The War of The Worlds was first published in 1898. 

“HG Wells was a most imaginative writer - combining his stories with truth and scientific fact” says Jeff. “I admire his ability to combine a visionary story with the human trials and tribulations of ‘invasion’, ‘faith’ and ‘ hope’”

“The War of The Worlds on the first read captured me unlike any of the other works we had read over that year. It had all the ingredients that all the others we had read didn’t have.”  

“I immediately rang my dad to tell him that I thought we had found THE story, and he agreed to try and reach the agents for HG Wells while I was away on tour."

HG Wells died in August 1946. There had been one adaptation of The War of The Worlds before his death created by American screenwriter Orson Welles. 

Orson’s radio broadcast adaptation was set in New Jersey, American. Many listeners mistook the fictitious broadcast for the real thing causing nationwide hysteria, that a Martian invasion had in fact taken place. 

“We discovered HG Wells had left all his works to his son Frank. It took nearly 3 months to trace him. Once we made contact with Frank and his agents, a meeting was set up.”

“Before meeting with Frank, my father and I knew we wanted to set my musical version in the same place as HG authored his story: dark Victorian England in 1989.”

“There were two key points that convinced Frank to sell us all the existing rights…”

“One - he liked that a father and son team were working together”

“Two - he was impressed with our intention to stay true to father’s story."

“And to this day, the promise to Frank of staying true to his dad’s story, has been kept.”

“Interestingly, other interpretations of The War of The Worlds have been set in contemporary USA or more recently Europe.” says Jeff. 

Like the original story, Jeff Wayne’s The Musical Version of The War of the Worlds and The Immersive Experience, begins in Victorian England when a cylinder crash lands on Horsell Common. 

It follows the same characters and geographical journey, remaining the most true adaptation of the Martian story. 

“From that point a contract was agreed and we were off and running.”

“When we started touring The War of The Worlds to arenas in 2006, I felt it was time to provide a full name beyond The Journalist. In honour of Herbet George Wells I decided to ‘flip’ his initials around and named The Journalist George Herbert. In the Immersive Experience you can meet George Herbert and journey with him through the Martian invasion.” 

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