Electric Light Orchestra

  • British rock band formed in 1970. The founding members were Roy Wood (vocals, guitars, many other instruments), Jeff Lynne (frontman, vocals, guitar, bass, cello, keyboards), and Bev Bevan (drums).
  • Wood was a member of the rock band The Move. He was interested in creating a new band that would be more like a classical orchestra, using violins, cellos, horns and woodwinds. He shared the idea with Lynne, then a member of the group The Idle Race. In 1970, they agreed to collaborate, and that summer, their first song was written, 10538 Overture. 
  • By 1971, their first album was released. In the UK, it was released under the title The Electric Light Orchestra. In early 1972, it was released in the U.S., under the title No Answer. The title was a mistake – the U.S. record company attempted to call their counterpart in the UK to ask them for the name of the album. They were unable to reach the people in the UK, so a note was left for the U.S. bosses, saying there was no answer – which became the name of the album.
  • Their first concert was in April 1972, with Wood, Lynne and Bevan, along with 6 other musicians playing various instruments, most notably keyboardist Richard Tandy, who has remained with the band and its various restarts. The lineup did not last long – 3 of them quickly left, along with Wood. Lynne stepped up to lead the band, and recruited new members as needed to allow them to perform.
  • In 1973, they released their second album, ELO 2, and they scored their first U.S. charting single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven. The song became one of their signature songs, and they used it to close many of their concerts in future years.
  • By 1974, the band became a major success. Four albums in the mid to late 70s – Face the Music, A New World Record, Out of the Blue, and Discovery, had major hits, including Can’t Get It Out of My Head, Evil Woman, Strange Magic, Living Thing, Telephone Line, Mr. Blue Sky, and Don’t Bring Me Down. On the misheard lyric “Don’t Bring Me Down…Bruce”, Lynne states that “Bruce” is incorrect – he actually uses a made up word, “Grooss.” Since so many people thought it was “Bruce,” he started using that word in live concerts.
  • They continued to record and tour in the 80s, but Lynne was losing interest in the band. Lynne formed the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys in 1988, along with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.
  • Drummer Bevan toured with new musicians under the name ELO Part II. Bevan was a co-owner of the ELO name, and Lynne agreed to allow Bevan to use the name. They made 2 albums, and toured for 9 years.
  • In 2000, after ELO Part II ended, Lynne restarted ELO, with all new members, and in 2001, an album was issued, Zoom. The album included guest musicians George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was one of Harrison’s last recordings before his death in 2001.
  • Lynne refreshed the band brand in 2014, playing concerts and releasing an album. This new version is called Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
  • The Electric Light Orchestra was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
  • They hold the record for the most Billboard Top 40 hits without ever reaching #1 in the U.S. – a total of 20 hits.
  • ELO is one of the defining art-rock sounds of the 70s. Beatles-loving snobs always hated ELO. I love the Beatles, but I don’t hate ELO – they had catchy pop songs that were easy to sing along with. Here’s the video to Mr. Blue Sky – love the harmonies on this song. This song has gotten very hot – it’s the first song on the soundtrack to the hugely popular movie Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And apparently, you had to have a perm to be a 70s rock star! Check it out!

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