War Of The Worlds composer Jeff Wayne says show still ‘occupies so much time’

The composer of the musical version of The War Of The Worlds has said the adaption of the story “occupies so much” of his time, he is unable to make more music for other works by HG Wells.

Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds will be touring across arenas in the UK and Ireland next year as the musical experience, which began life as an album musical in 1978, continues to draw large audiences.

The series of shows has been getting bigger over the years with six production trucks in 2006 and after 19 years of touring in 2025, will be up to 12 trucks.

The War Of The Worlds
The series of shows has been getting bigger over the years (Jeff Wayne/PA)

Wayne, 80, told the PA news agency: “After The War Of The Worlds came out and was really exploding up the charts and getting a lot of attention, I received from I think two different publishers who controlled all of HG Wells’s stories, first editions, and (them) saying ‘Fancy doing this one of HGs, another musical work?’

“And some are brilliant and probably adaptable in the same way I adapted The War Of the Worlds, but it’s taken over so much of my life, The War Of The Worlds, and it’s not that I haven’t done a lot of other things.

“But it was a span of about three years’ commitment, when I did The War Of The Worlds, and I don’t think I’d have three years at this point because The War Of The Worlds occupies so much of our time and my time certainly over the next few years, as it has been since the original double album came out, but you never know and because there are a couple of great stories that he wrote.”

New York-born Wayne had success writing commercial music for television shows and adverts before releasing the album, with narration by Welsh actor Richard Burton and also featuring Thin Lizzy star Phil Lynott.

Wells, one of the pioneers in 19th century science fiction, also released The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island Of Dr Moreau.

The War Of The Worlds
A Martian fighting machine on stage (Simon Lowery/PA)

When asked about what he thought of other The War Of The Worlds adaptions that were not set in 19th century England, Wayne said most had been “big blockbusters, or TV series, and most have been set in contemporary America”.

He added: “There was a TV series a couple of years ago on the BBC that was set in Victorian times, but with no disrespect whatsoever, it was criticised a lot because it wasn’t very accurate to the story and I just know that I made a promise to Frank Wells to stay true to his dad and I believe we’ve done that, and I’ll leave it there.

“There’s a lot of effort that goes into anybody’s productions and if it’s good, it’s good.”

A 2019 BBC adaption saw Pete Versus Life star Rafe Spall and Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson in leading roles, while a 2005 film featured Tom Cruise.

War of the worlds tour
Wayne said his musical version of The War Of The Worlds ‘occupies so much’ of his time, he is unable to make more music for the works of HG Wells (Simon Lowery/PA)

The musical conducted by Wayne, now features Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson in 3D holography as The Journalist, who recounts his story of survival from the Martian invasion of 1898.

Wayne said that the “very loyal fans from the beginning” had passed seeing the production onto their families so they always had new people coming and the next tour would see “a major step forward in excitement and emotion”.

He also said the reasons for the continued relevancy had been that the themes of the work were beyond the alien invasion.

“All of HG Wells, his rights have been in the public domain for about eight years now,” Wayne also said.

“My rights, everything I created in music and artwork, everything about it, that’s very much in copyright and will remain so until 70 years until after I snuff it.

“So anybody who wants to do a musical version can, they certainly can, they just need to be careful not to touch on our domain, sight and sound. Otherwise, I’ll be on them.”

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