The Album

Jerry and Jeff Wayne considered a number of titles for a musical adaption before settling on H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds. The resulting double-album, released by Ollie Records in 1978, has gone on to be an international success.

The musical tells the story of the novel with a few minor changes - it retains the original setting in Victorian England, but the narrator of the story becomes 'The Journalist', and is no longer married, but has a betrothed, Carrie. The two parts of the album, "The Coming of the Martians" and "Earth Under the Martians" correspond to the two parts of Well's story. On the album, the narration of Richard Burton as the journalist is interwoven with Jeff Wayne's music, and the emotions of the story are enhanced at key moments by songs by lyricists Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass.

The Original Cast

Richard Burton - The Journalist
David Essex - The Artilleryman
Julie Covington - Beth
Philip Lynott - Parson Nathaniel
Jo Partridge - The Heat Ray
Justin Hayward - The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist (singing 'The Eve of the War' and 'Forever Autumn')
Chris Thompson - The Voice of Humanity (singing 'Thunderchild')

Jeff Wayne - Composer, Producer
Jerry Wayne - Executive Producer
Doreen Wayne - Script Writer
Gary Osborne & Paul Vigrass - Lyricists

The Tracks

Disc One: The Coming of the Martians
1. The Eve of the War
2. Horsell Common and the Heat Ray
3. The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine
4. Forever Autumn
5. Thunder Child

Disc Two: Earth Under the Martians
1. The Red Weed (Part 1)
2. The Spirit of Man
3. The Red Weed (Part 2)
4. The Artilleryman Returns
5. Brave New World
6. Dead London
7. Epilogue (Part 1)
8. Epilogue (Part 2) NASA

The Artwork

The booklet for the album features original artwork by Peter Goodfellow, Geoff Taylor and Michael Trimm, illustrating key moments of the story. The layout for this fanlisting features one of the most famous - 'Thunderchild', by Michael Trimm, which became the cover image of the album.

The Tour

The War of the Worlds was finally brought live to audiences with a tour in 2006. These performances brought together some of the original cast, including Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson, with Richard Burton 'in sight and sound', Russel Watson as Parson Nathaniel, Tara Blaise as Beth and Alexis James as the Artilleryman. A live DVD has also been released.


  • Jeff and Jerry Wayne also considered John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for adaptation.
  • 'The Eve of the War' is the only track for which Jeff Wayne wrote both the music and the lyrics, though the lyrics are actually an adaptation of a line from Well's novel (the chances against anything manlike on Mars are a million to one).
  • The song 'Forever Autumn' was not written originally for The War of the Worlds, but first appeared (in a slightly different version) on Vigrass & Osborne's debut album Queues in 1972.
  • Jeff Wayne originally asked John Lodge to sing 'Thunderchild', which followed 'Forever Autumn' sung by fellow Moody Blues member Justin Hayward. However, it wasn't possible to achieve the Moody Blues double for various reasons, and the song was finally performed by Chris Thompson.
  • The sound of the Martian cylinder unscrewing (in 'Horsell Common and the Heat Ray') was achieved by scraping two saucepans together.
  • The original mix of Side 4 of the album was accidentally destroyed, and this part of the album had to be re-mixed.
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