The Electric Light Orchestra The biggest compliment a band can get is to have another singer write a song about how much they like them, as Randy Newman did in 1979 about ELO with the release of “The Story of a Rock and Roll Band.” In the song he said, “I love their “Mr. Blue Sky” Almost my favorite is “Turn to Stone” And how bout “Telephone Line”? I love that ELO'” (Wild 5) The band created in 1971 by Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and Bev Bevan used cellos and violins to create a classical sound. Although Roy Wood left shortly after their first record was released. The idea came about when Jeff Lynne said to Roy Wood, “What if we had a band with strings- real strings?'” (Wild 9) They were in The Move at the time and decided to create a band on the side.
They called this experimental band The Electric Light Orchestra. “Of the groups name Lynne remembers, At the time people thought ELO’ was pretty bad. It was like The Electric Light what?’ The name was as wacky as the idea really.'” (Wild 9) Jeff Lynn was one of the most important members of the band. He was born on December 30, 1947 in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Lynne was interested in music while he was still in school. When he was fifteen years his father got him a guitar.
Though it was made of plastic and had only one string he practiced it all the time. (Petersdorff 3) Jeff was a big Beatles fan. “Lynne is asked if he now admits to being a Beatles fan. I confess,’ Lynne says with a laugh.
I’m dead guilty of being a Beatles fan.'” (Wild 10) Another founding member of the band was Bev Bevan. He was born Beverly Bevan in Birmingham, U.K. on November 25, 1945. He formed his first professional band, called Denny Lain and the Diplomats, in 1963.He retired from music to become a furniture salesman, but then joined Carl Wayne and the Vikings. He then later joined The Move and helped create ELO.
(Petersdorff 4) The third important member of ELO was Richard Tandy. Tandy was born on March 26, 1948 in Birmingham, U.K. At Moseley Grammar School he had been taught to play bass and guitar. Tandy’s first gig was at Solihull Civic Hall when he was fifteen. He was in many different bands before joining ELO.
(Petersdorff 5) ” Richard Tandy was on keyboards, and he became my right hand man on most of the ELO stuff.'” (Wild 11) The Electric Light Orchestra lasted about thirty years, going through as many as eighteen members. Their first single came out in 1971. In the United Kingdom it was titled 10538 Overture, but due to a miscommunication was titled No Answer in the U.S. (Petersdorff 5) In 1974 they released their record called Eldorado. “One day my dad said to me, No wonder your bloody tunes are no good.’ I said Why?’ He said, because they’ve got no tune.’ So the next record I made was Eldorado, which I did to try and make him love it. And he did love it.'” (Wild 13) The album won a gold disk.
(Landt 6) They did many tours in the UK and the US. Their biggest tour was The Big Night in February 1978. It was the biggest grossing tour of any at that time. There was a giant laser lit spaceship that opened up to reveal the band playing inside. (Landt 11) In May 1979 ELO won the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award at the annual Ivor Novello Awards lunch.
(landt 13) In December 1979 “Don’t Bring Me Down” reached #3 in the UK and #8 in the US. It was the biggest US single for the group. In the song when Lynne sang the word groos, many people misinterpreted it as Bruce. “No kids, Lynne’s not singing “Bruce” in the backing vocals for the album’s inspired rocker Don’t Bring Me Down.’ “No it’s groos’ – just a word I made up in the studio to fill up this hole. Everybody loved it so I left it in. Mack – our great engineer at Musicland – said, How’d you know that?’ He told me that groos’ sounded just like the German word for greetings.’ But everyone heard it as Bruce’ and at all the shows I ended up singing it that way too.” (Wild 14) In 1980 ELO wrote songs for the film Xanadu.
The soundtrack got #2 in both the UK and the US. The film however was a box office disaster. (Landt 15) The groups last live performance was in July 1986. “ELO’s final new studio album to date, 1986’s Balance of Power …was a fine album filled with a lyrical sadness that seemed to foretell the Orchestra’s imminent split.” (Wild 20) Jeff left shortly after in 1988. In 1991 remaining members regrouped as ELO Part II without Jeff Lynne.