Electric Light Orchestra

1971-
Jeff LynneVocals, guitar
Roy WoodGuitar, vocals
Kelly GroucuttBass
Bev BevanDrums
  • The Electric Light Orchestra was formed by members of an English group called The Move. They wanted to create a new band with a string section along with traditional instruments.
  • At the time, an ad for their album Out Of The Blue was the most expensive billboard ever erected on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
  • On their 1978 tour, they opened their shows by emerging from a giant spaceship. A lot of people thought it looked like a hamburger.
  • Most of the production was done by Lynne, with various musicians brought in to form the "orchestra."
  • In order to reproduce their sound live, some backing tracks were on tape at their concerts. They were one of the first bands accused of lip-synching.
  • Lynne has produced albums for Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison. He joined them, along with Bob Dylan, in 1988 to form The Traveling Wilburys.
  • They broke up in 1986. After a long legal battle over the name, Bevan made an album and toured as ELO Part 2 in 1991. Lynne started recording again as ELO in 2000.
  • They took their name because they combined electric rock instruments with orchestral instruments. "Light Orchestras" were small orchestras popular in England in the '60s.
  • Their first manager was Don Arden. When he lost interest in the group, he gave them to his daughter Sharon who ran Jet Records. Sharon married Ozzy Osbourne a few years later.
  • They are one of the few English bands that are much more popular in America than their home country.
  • Their first tour was canceled because their rehearsals sounded so bad. It took them a while to get their live sound right.
  • There is no Behind The Music on ELO because they were not scandalous. They had plenty of access to drugs and groupies, but didn't want either. They gave these indulgences to their roadies when they came along.
  • Jeff Lynne planned a tour with the new version of the group in 2001, but canceled it when they could not sell enough tickets to justify the expense.
  • Their first live TV appearance was an episode of VH1 Storytellers in 2001.
  • Their first American LP release received its name when a United Artists executive miscalculated the time difference between LA and London. When he called the office of EMI records, no one was there to pick up the phone, so the UA executive wrote down on his pad "No answer."
  • CBS Sports used their instrumental composition "Fire on High" in their promotions in the mid-to-late '70s.
  • Kelly Groucutt sued the group for membership status as he was paid as a session musician for most of the group's latter LP's. He prevailed and won a share of the performance royalties.
  • Roy Wood, Bev Bevan, and Jeff Lynne formed the last lineup of the Move and kept it going "to pay the bills" as they (with the assistance of later-ELOer Richard Tandy) recorded the first "Electric Light Orchestra" LP. It was this lineup that produced the last Move single, "California Man," backed with the original version of "Do Ya," which later became a hit for ELO (and a minor one for Todd Rundgren). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for above 3
  • Groucutt died from a heart attack on February 19, 2009, at age 63. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The group did the soundtrack for the notorious 1980 flop Xanadu. They were offered work on the far more successful films Midnight Express and Fame, but Jeff Lynne didn't have time to do those, so he ended up on Xanadu.
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Comments: 28

  • Craig from Bluffton, ScI don't have the Armchair Theater CD but, I listen to it often on YouTube. I didn't know it existed until a month or two ago. An excellent bonus for me. Like finding a $100 bill in an old suit pocket. Lynne has been a favorite of mine since the mid 70's.
  • Craig from Bluffton, ScI used to think Chris Isaak sounded like Roy Orbison (still do)... but, Jeff Lynne sings a ton of Orbison-like songs.
  • Alma from Laredo, TxELO is underrated as they brought a new sound to music that had not been tried here in the states. Another British band that had to wake up America. Thank you ELO.
  • Ryan from Dayton, Ohclearly, the beatles are a huge influence, sometimes blatantly so, but 'smidges of queen'? how so? i think their sound was a bit more than 'spiced' with orchestra sounds, rather it makes them who they are in a definite way, albeit they had drifted away from strings in the 80's, and are all but gone in their best (imo) and biggest hit 80's songs, 'don't bring me down' and 'hold on tight.' were these their only two great songs i'd say they wouldn't be worth talking much about today. bear in mind, the blue violin is kinda famous. the strings were always an intregral aspect of the band's focus up until the 80's when a lot of that sound shifted to synthesizers, and musical tastes (the public's and lynne's) demanded ELO keep pace with the times.
  • Ryan from Dayton, OhELO has won many awards. as to why they're not in the rnrhof all i can say is they must be saving the best for last. as far as who's better/made more contributions, i think you have to start making some separations. prince didn't contribute much to rock n roll, though he contributed massively to pop music. and, like jeff lynne, you can hear his producing and/or writing influences in their respective genres at the time. the monkees, too, were important in their own way. what holds ELO back from the hall of fame, imo, is the fact that they're only perceived as relevant to pop rock of the 70's and early 80's, and the fact that they made forays in disco ('xanadu' and the 'discovery,' or 'disco-very!' album) doesn't help solidify their rock n' rock status. i take issue with any site or review that relegates them to footnote status. i agree, the guess who belongs there. even when i was five years old i thought 'the monkees' reruns were stupid, so, nah, a 'decent' t.v. show it wasn't.
  • Ryan from Dayton, Ohlynne never went to Juliard as far as i know. for one, he's from birmingham ENGLAND. i've yet to read a bio on the band mentioning that. kenth, his afro and sunglasses are trademarks, and since he's not a dancer, why bother remarking on his choreography? wouldn't a 'post 70s band' be, uh, like, an 80's band? while they certainly made a lot of music in the 80's, ELO is pure 70's, baby, just like ABBA (sales of about 370 million albums, in case you're curious). still, i agree ~ lynne's a genius. 'a new world record' first featured the spaceship (fittingly enough in 1977), which, obviously, became synonomous with ELO. perhaps you chased a Simon game down the pier? :) anyway, this fit well with lynne's love of sci-fi (he's also keen on american indians and the wild west). lynne did not play violin on tour that i know of, he played guitar and sang lead vocals. i'm unaware of him playing any instrument in concert other than his guitar.
  • Ryan from Dayton, Ohtremendously overrated? you don't sell over 100 million copies of your music by being anything other than amazing. 'one or two decent songs'? ELO could fill an entire CD of classics without resorting to filler.

    what an incredibly ignorant, biased statement. look, even if you don't like the music, try to appreciate it objectively... i doubt you can, though. i personally can't stand country music, but i grasp the appeal and recognize 'good' country when i hear it.

    'i can't get it out of my mind,' 'evil woman,' 'do ya,' 'fire on high,' 'livin thing,' 'sweet talking woman,' 'don't bring me down,' 'hold on tight,' 'telephone line'... and i know i'm missing a few, not to mention their other hits that i never cared much for, like 'confusion.'

    let me guess, you think fleetwood mac is overrated, too....
  • B from Milwaukee, WiI don't know what that joker from Pittsburgh is talking about. I've always thought ELO to be very underrated. You never see them on any of those "greatest artists of all time" lists that come out every so often, yet their songs are in all sorts of commercials lately. Reading the comments here, I guess they aren't in the hall of fame yet either. I really don't see how you could call them overrated when they don't seem to be getting any accolades. They made some of the most unique stuff I've ever heard though and have far more than one or two decent songs.
  • Joe from Fort Meade, MdAnyone that says that ELO is overrated should really reconsider their statements. Jeff Lynne is incredibly talented and most definitely a musical genius. If anyone doubts this, all the doubts should stop when they see where he went to school. Jeff Lynne is a graduate of The Juliyard in New York. That's really all that has to be said about that.
  • Adrian from Los Angeles, CaFor a band that had a very unique, quirky, sound, I don't think "overrated" is an accurate description. Electric Light Orchestra's music lives on today in film and television because of their sound. An overrated band (ahem... Boston) would have faded away. As far as Jeff Lynn goes, I think he's one of the more underrated song writers and he's certainly one of the more novel producers rock has ever seen.

    Strange Magic alone....
  • Ben from Baltimore, MdELO was an odd band, but in a good way. Oh and by the by Zak and Julian, your both right in some ways. To Zak, I believe your right in saying that Prince belongs in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. Julian, you have some very good points, in my personal opinion your right when it comes to Tommy James & The Shondels, ELO, and The Cars. However, The Monkees, allthough they had two great songs in "I'm A Believer" and "Daydream Believer" as well as a string of other mediocre songs, that was it. Two hits don't get you into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Same deal with The Hollies, "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" and "Bus Stop" and some other mediocre songs but thats it. Again, two songs don't get you into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. And not all member of the RNR Hall of Fame are neccesarily "Rock". Take James Taylor for example, hes not really "Rock" but still deserves to be inducted, and currently is. I also believe that The Guess Who should be inducted, but thats just me.
  • Asa from Atlanta, GaWow this band is so strange. Quite different from other bands.
  • David from San Francisco, CaA fantastic band - Jeff Lynne was the first bandleader to take the baton passed by the Beatles and do anything modern with it. His place in music history is secure - from the concept albums Eldorado and (the beautiful) Time, to the amazing chart success they had over the first 15 or so years.

    And their 2001 return LP ZOOM was 1st-rate, too. Well worth checking out! Lynne plays 95% of the instruments on that one, too!

    Long Live the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA!!!!!
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaI think Ringo Starr also belongs in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame!
  • Zak from Austin, TxAre you telling me you think the Monkees were bigger contributors to Rock n' Roll than Prince? I'm not a huge Prince fan, but I think he's highly regarded as a musician and has a very firm place in Rock history. The Monkees? Well, they had a decent TV show 40 years ago I guess.
  • Julian from Anaheim, CaI have one question some one can awnser for me... WHY ISN'T ELO IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME? Seriously their music is so much different than anybody from their time. And, I think The R.n.R. Hall of Fame is really cool, but they pick artists who don't even deserve to be in the same boat as The Rolling Stones or The Beatles. Like Prince or Earth, Wind, and Fire what did they do for Rock and Roll. I think they should induct Tommy James and The Shondells, The Cars, The Hollies, The Monkees and ELO. Thats real Rock adn Roll Music!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScChuck: I couldn't agree with you more that it's a bit harsh to say that ELO is over-rated. Their music sounded like no one elses.
  • Don from San Antonio, TxRyan, that was Jefferson Starship's "Freedom at Point Zero". Find it on the web and it'll all come back to you.
  • Ryan from Clinton, MaCan someone please help refresh my memory. I can remember seeing an ELO album cover or 8 track that my uncle used to have. It was a little boy chasing the ELO spaceship down a pier. I was only like 5 when I saw it but came remember it. Does anyone have this picture or know what album it was on?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
  • Chuck from Stamford, CtI want to correct a couple of inaccuracies.

    Firstly it was George Harrison who made the comment about the Beatles soundling like ELO if the former had stayed together, not John Lennon.

    Jeff Lynne enjoyed a very close friendship with Harrison, but didn't get to know his hero, Lennon, well.

    Lynne co-produced the Beatles 1995 'new' songs for their Anthology set, so fulfilling his dream to become a member of the Beatles. Well, he had the same initials as Lennon, so why not?!

    "Fire On High" (The intro song from the 1975 Face The Music album) has the backwards recording on it, which says "Turn back, turn back. The music is reversible, but time isn't". They were falsely accused, along with several other rock bands of hiding satanic messages in the music. Nobody's that clever.

    And I think the overrated comments are a little harsh. They're one of the few bands who have been consistently overlooked in all of the 70s revivals of the past 10 years or so, but they're admired and covered by many.
  • Chris Labenne from Niles, OhThey used a lot of backwards masking in their songs. I forget which songs they used it in, but I remember one song saying "Pass the mighty waterfall" when reversed, and another song saying "Turn back turn back turn back..." when reversed. They were both really blatant and annoying, I think.
  • Shayne from Edmonton, KyJohn Lennon was quoted as saying that if the Beatles hadn't broken up, they would have sounded like ELO.
  • Lisa from Manchester, CtI don't think it's fair to say Jeff Lynne should have always produced. He admits that he pretended to know more than he did in the early years, but I believe he is a musical genius. I have been a fan of ELO since I was a little girl because my Dad listened to them all of the time. To combine classical music with rock/pop is and was a great idea. And they have more than "just a few good songs." And he definitely has a distinctive sound - I recognized it the first time I heard The Traveling Wilburys.
  • Gregg from Denver, CoDon't forget their soundtrack work on that massive hit Xanadu ;)
  • Gary from Phoenix, AzWas Lynne the violinist when band toured Phoenix, AZ, in the 70's? Roll Over Beethoven was the most awesome violinning I've ever heard with a VERY long solo. It was HOT! Wish there was a tape of the concert somewhere. It stimulated a dormant lifelong interest in real classical music rather than just staying with rock.
  • Kenth from Northford, CtOne of the best post 70 bands combining the heritage of Beatles with smidges of Queeen and spiced with strings and classic music. It is timeless. Lynne is simply a genious. But he needs a new coreographer and hair stylist....
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaAnother one of those tremendously overrated bands. Maybe one or two decent songs. Jeff Lynne is doing now what he always should have been doing; PRODUCING.
  • Christine from Chicago, IlThree member of ELO played with the London Symphony Orchestra.
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