Electric Light Orchestra – Doyle’s Space: Music Hall of Fame

My 4th inductee this year (2023) and my 16th overall was created by Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and Bev Bevan, who were members of the band The Move.

The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) is a British rock band that was formed in Birmingham, England in 1970. The group was created by Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and Bev Bevan, who were members of the band The Move at the time. The idea for the Electric Light Orchestra was to fuse classical music with rock and roll, creating a unique sound that would set them apart from other bands of the era.

In 1968, Roy Wood — guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter of the Move — had an idea to form a new band that would use violins, cellos, string basses, horns, and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound, allowing rock music to “pick up where the Beatles left off…” in a new direction.

He had asked Jeff Lynne, who loved this idea to join The Move when Trevor Burton left the band in 1969. Lynne decided to keep his band together, The Idle Race, but when Carl Wayne quit the band in 1970, Jeff took up Roy Wood’s 2nd invitation.

On July 12, 1970, when Wood added multiple cellos to a Lynne-penned song intended to be a Move B-side, the new concept became a reality, and “10538 Overture” became the first Electric Light Orchestra song. Roy Wood was born on November 8, 1946, in Birmingham, England. As a child, Wood showed a keen interest in music and began playing guitar at a young age. He was inspired by rock and roll legends like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, as well as by the emerging British pop scene of the 1960s.

Jeff Lynne was born on December 30, 1947, in Erdington, Birmingham, and grew up in Shard End, Birmingham, England. His father bought him his first guitar, an acoustic instrument, for £2 and he was still playing it in 2012. His first band was named the Rockin’ Hellcats, then the Handicaps, and finally the Andicaps. In 1964 he quit joining the band “The Chads”. In 1966 he joined the Nightriders who would change their name to the Idle Race. Now, in The Move, Jeff and Roy released two final albums to help finance the new ELO.

Bev Bevan was born on November 25, 1944, in Sparkhill, Birmingham, England. His professional drumming career started with a stint with Denny Laine in his group Denny Laine and the Diplomats, then with Carl Wayne & the Vikings, followed by the Move in 1966. After the end of ELO in 1986, he founded ELO Part II. ELO’s debut concert took place on April 16, 1972, at the Greyhound Pub in Croydon, Surrey, with a line-up of Wood, Lynne, Bevan, Bill Hunt (keyboards/French horn), Andy Craig (cello), Mike Edwards (cello), Wilfred Gibson (violin), Hugh McDowell (cello), and Richard Tandy (bass).

The Albums

The Electric Light Orchestra

The debut studio album was released on December 3, 1971, in the United Kingdom by Harvest Records. The sound on The Electric Light Orchestra is unique on this recording in comparison to the more slickly produced ELO albums of the subsequent Lynne years, incorporating many wind instruments and replacing guitar parts with heavy, “sawing” cello riffs, giving this recording an experimental “baroque[1]-and-roll” feel; indeed, “The Battle of Marston Moor” is the most baroque-influenced track on the album. On this track, Roy Wood, in addition to playing virtually all the instruments, had to provide the percussion as well because Bev Bevan, normally the group’s percussionist and drummer, refused to play on the track because of his low opinion of it. The original album art was designed by Hipgnosis[2]; the photographs of the band on the back of the album cover, dressed in 17th-century period costume, were taken at the Banqueting House in Whitehall, adding to the Baroque flavor and emphasis on Stuart Britain found on the record. The album contains their first single “10538 Overture” which was released on June 23, 1972. “Mr. Radio” starts with the tuning of the radio and was written in a 1920s American style about a man whose wife has left him and his only companion is his radio. The orchestral intro to the song is played backward and is an early example of what would be Lynne’s trademark ELO production style.

In the United States on March 1972 as No Answer, after a misunderstood telephone message made by a United Artists Records executive asking about the album name; the caller, having failed to reach the ELO contact, wrote down “no answer” in his notes, and this was misconstrued to be the name of the album.

However, this line-up did not last for long. First Craig departed, and then Wood, during the recordings for the band’s second LP. Taking Hunt and McDowell with him, Wood left the band to form Wizzard[3]. Lynne stepped up to lead the band, with Bevan, Edwards, Gibson, and Tandy (who had switched from bass to keyboards to replace Hunt) remaining from the previous line-up, and new recruits Mike de Albuquerque and Colin Walker joining the band on bass and cello, respectively.


The new line-up performed at the 1972 Reading Festival on 12 August 1972. Barcus Berry instrument pick-ups[4], now sported by the band’s string trio, allowed them to have proper amplification on stage for their instruments, which had previously been all but drowned out by the electrified instruments. The band released their second album ELO 2 in early 1973, which produced their second UK Top 10 and their first US chart single, an elaborate version of the Chuck Berry classic “Roll Over Beethoven”(which also incorporated the first movement of Beethoven’s own Fifth Symphony). Originally, the album was to be titled The Lost Planet, but that concept was quietly dropped. It starts with “In Old England Town (Boogie No. 2)” and is followed by “Momma” or “Mama” in the US. “Kuiama” is the last track and the longest ever recorded by ELO at 11:19. It tells the tale of a soldier and an orphan girl. The soldier is trying to comfort the girl and also to explain how he was the one who killed her parents.

On the Third Day

Their third studio album was released in the United States in November 1973 by United Artists Records, and in the United Kingdom on December 14, 1973, by Warner Bros. Records. Violinist Mik Kaminski made his debut on side one of this album, replacing Wilfred Gibson, although Gibson plays on side two (plus the bonus tracks). Also, cellist Colin Walker left the lineup around the same time, leaving Mike Edwards as the lone cellist. “Showdown” was released as a single on Harvest, with “In Old England Town” as the B-side. “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” was released as a second single in February of 1974. Hugh McDowell did appear on this front cover of the U.S. album seen at right, which was an unusual photograph taken by photographer Richard Avedon that had ELO displaying their navels. The album also contains the songs “Bluebird is Dead”, Oh No Not Susan”, “Daybreaker” and “In The Hall of the Mountain King” some of my all-time favorite ELO tunes.


For the band’s fourth album, Eldorado, a concept album about a daydreamer, Lynne stopped multi-tracking strings and hired Louis Clark as string arranger with an orchestra and choir. ELO’s string players still continued to perform on recordings, however. The first single off the album, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”, became their first US top 10 hit, and Eldorado, A Symphony became ELO’s first gold album. The cover was designed by John Kehe, simply of a frame of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. “Boy Blue” was also released as a single in April of 1974. It is an anti-war song set during the Crusades and forms the second dream as part of the overall Eldorado dreamscape. It tells the story of Boy Blue, a war hero returning from a far-off war, and the rapturous welcome he receives from his town folk. The chorus is made up of the town folk singing “Hey, Boy Blue is back.” Boy Blue rebuffs the hero worship and declares his hatred of war, stating his refusal to ever “take up arms again”.

Following the release of Eldorado, Kelly Groucutt was recruited as bassist, and in early 1975, Melvyn Gale replaced Edwards on the cello. The line-up stabilized as the band took to a decidedly more accessible sound. ELO had become successful in the US at this point and the group was a star attraction on the stadium and arena circuit and appeared on The Midnight Special[5] more than any other band in that show’s history with four appearances (in 1973, 1975, 1976, and 1977).

Face The Music

Face the Music is the fifth studio album and was released in September 1975 by United Artists Records and on November 14, 1975, in the United Kingdom by Jet Records. By January 1975, bass player Mike de Albuquerque and cellist Mike Edwards had left the band during the Eldorado recording sessions and subsequent tours, respectively. Bass player Kelly Groucutt and classically trained cellist Melvyn Gale both joined the band as their replacements. More pop-oriented now, the album had three singles, “Evil Woman” (number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100), “Strange Magic” (number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100), and “Nightrider”. The album begins with “Fire on High”an incredible instrumental track that contains an opening with a backward message; in reverse, a masked heavy voice (that of ELO drummer Bev Bevan) says, “The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!” Ostensibly, this was Jeff Lynne’s shot at backmasking hysteria after satanic allegations were made against their song “Eldorado” by fundamentalist Christianity members. Snippets of Messiah by Handel can be heard during the album opener which saw heavy exposure as the theme music for the American television program CBS Sports Spectacular in the mid-1970s. “Waterfall” is one of Jeff Lynne’s favorite songs and the guitar and orchestral outro fade into the orchestra opening to “Evil Woman”. “Poker” is the side two opener and quite a rocker.

Following the conclusion of the Eldorado’s European leg of the tour, the band began recording the new album at Musicland Studios in Munich[6], Germany. ELO had frequently opened for Deep Purple for the initial North American leg of the Eldorado Tour, and Deep Purple had recommended Musicland to ELO.

This was the first time ELO recorded at Musicland and the band would later return to record most of the future albums here due to frontman Jeff Lynne’s great fondness for it and his working relationship with sound engineer Mack.

A New World Record

Their sixth studio album was released in October 1976 on United Artists Records in the U.S., and on November 19, 1976, on Jet Records in the United Kingdom. The cover art features the ELO logo, designed by Kosh, for the first time; this logo would be included on most of the group’s subsequent releases. The album had four hit singles, “Livin’ Thing”, the transatlantic Top Ten hit “Telephone Line”, which became the band’s first gold US single, the UK Top Ten hit “Rockaria!”, and the US number 24 hit “Do Ya”, a remake of the 1972 single by The Move. The album opens with “Tightrope” with a dramatic orchestral opening before transforming into an upbeat rock song. “So Fine” starts side two. The middle section contains African drums and electronic percussion created by a then state-of-the-art Moog processor and continues with rising intensity. More and more instruments join in until the vocal again takes over. As it fades out, it segues into the Middle Eastern-inspired violin of “Livin’ Thing”.

Out of the Blue

The seventh studio album was released on 28 October 1977. The double album is among the most commercially successful records in the group’s history, selling about 10 million copies worldwide by 2007. Jeff Lynne wrote the entire album in three and a half weeks after a sudden burst of creativity while hidden away in his rented chalet in the Swiss Alps. It took a further two months to record in Munich. There were five singles released from Out of the Blue. “Turn To Stone” reached No. 13 in the United States and number nine in Canada in early 1978. “Mr. Blue Sky” peaked at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart and number 35 on the US Billboard Charts. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”s original title was “Dead End Street”, but it was changed during recording. Some words that survived from that version can be heard in the opening of the third verse, “I’ve been livin’ on a dead-end street”. “Wild West Hero” was written reputedly by lead singer Jeff Lynne in 4 minutes while on holiday. Melvyn Gale, normally the band’s cellist, provided the Western-style piano for this track. “It’s Over” was the last single to be lifted from the album and was released exclusively in the United States, becoming a minor hit. The orchestral beginning was actually the end of “Mr. Blue Sky” reversed. Out of the Blue was one of the first pop albums to have extensive use of the vocoder, and helped to popularize it. “Standin’ in the Rain” opens the Concerto for a Rainy Day suite with a haunting keyboard over a recording of real rain, recorded by Lynne just outside his rented studio during a very rainy summer in Munich. Also heard at the 0:33 mark of the song, which marks the beginning of The Concerto, is thunder crackling in an unusual manner voicing the words “Concerto for a Rainy Day” by the band’s keyboardist, Richard Tandy.

The band then set out on a nine-month, 92-date world tour, with an enormous set and a hugely expensive spaceship stage with fog machines and a laser display. In the United States, the concerts were billed as The Big Night and were their largest to date, with 62,000 people seeing them at Cleveland Stadium.

The Big Night went on to become the highest-grossing live concert tour in music history up to that point (1978). The band played at London’s Wembley Arena for eight straight sold-out nights during the tour, another record at the time.


In 1979, the multi-platinum album Discovery was released, reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart. There were 5 singles released starting with “Shine a Little Love” on May 11, 1979. This was one of the band’s most commercially successful singles, peaking at no. 4 in Canada, no. 6 on the UK Singles Chart, and no. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The 12″ release was also available in white vinyl. Two different promotional videos were filmed for the single, a recording studio version shot on 35mm film, minus the band’s three string players, and a videotaped version made for the Discovery video album, featuring the full touring line-up. “The Diary of Horace Wimp”, is Beatlesque in nature and became a Top Ten hit in the UK and Ireland. The lyrics describe a week in the life of a repressed man who wants to express his affection towards a woman he meets, and overcomes his shy nature with the help of “a voice from above.” The day Saturday is omitted – this is because, as explained by Jeff Lynne: “The football match is played on a Saturday”. “Don’t Bring Me Down” charted number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The drum track is in fact a tape loop, coming from “On the Run” looped and slowed down. The song was dedicated to the NASA Skylab space station, which re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and burned up over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia on 11 July 1979. “Confusion” features a 12-string acoustic guitar and vocoder. “Last Train to London” was described as a catchy pop melody with Beatlesque vocal qualities and a smooth layered sound.

In 1980, Jeff Lynne was asked to write for the soundtrack of the musical film Xanadu and provided half of the songs, with the other half written by John Farrar and performed by the film’s star Olivia Newton-John. It was released in June 1980 on MCA Records in the United States and in July 1980 by Jet Records in the United Kingdom.

The song “Xanadu” written by Jeff Lynne and performed by ELO and Olivia Newton-John reached number one in the US. The Newton-John side also featured Cliff Richard, the Tubes, and Gene Kelly. “I’m Alive”, “All Over the World”, “Don’t Walk Away”, and “Xanadu” were released as ELO singles.


In 1981, ELO’s sound changed again with the science fiction concept album Time, a throwback to earlier, more progressive rock albums like Eldorado. With the string section now departed, synthesizers took a dominating role, as was the trend in the larger music scene of the time; although studio strings were present on some of the tracks conducted by Rainer Pietsch, the overall soundscape had a more electronic feel in keeping with the futuristic nature of the album. Singles from the album were “Hold On Tight”, “Twilight”, “The Way Life’s Meant to Be”, “Rain Is Falling”, and “Ticket to the Moon / Here Is the News”. Lynne’s comments on the album’s concept are as follows: in 1981, a man drifts into a state of twilight (“Twilight”), where he appears to have entered the year 2095, meets a Gynoid (“Yours Truly, 2095”), and reflects on the 1980s, “back when things were so uncomplicated” (“Ticket to the Moon”). Walking down the same street from a hundred years before, he is dismayed by the plastic flowers and ivory towers that have grown on top of it (“The Way Life’s Meant to Be”). As he remains in this future period, he looks out his window depressed, watching the world go by (“Rain Is Falling”). He attempts to send a letter in the form of a dream to his girlfriend in the past but fails (“From the End of the World”). The band embarked on their last world tour to promote the LP. For the tour, Kaminski returned to the line-up on violin, whilst Louis Clark (synthesizers) and Dave Morgan (guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals) also joined the on-stage lineup. Clark had previously handled string arrangements for the band.

Secret Messages

Jeff Lynne wanted to follow Time with a double album, but CBS blocked his plan on the grounds that a double vinyl album would be too expensive in the oil crisis and not sell as well as a single record, so as a result, the new album was edited down to a single disc and released as Secret Messages in 1983; many of the out-takes were later released on Afterglow or as B-sides of singles. Lynne, discouraged by the dwindling crowds on the Time tour, CBS’s order to cut Secret Messages down to one disc, and his falling out with manager Don Arden, decided to end ELO in late 1983. Secret Messages was the last ELO album with bass guitarist Kelly Groucutt, conductor Louis Clark and a full orchestra, and the last ELO album to be released on the Jet label. It was also the final ELO studio album to become a worldwide top 40 hit upon release. Three singles were released from the album in the UK: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King”, the title track, and “Four Little Diamonds”. In the US, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King”, “Four Little Diamonds” and “Stranger” were issued. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King” became the band’s last UK Top 20 hit. The song “Letter from Spain” was used as backing music in commercials for the Games of the XXV Olympiad, held in 1992 in Barcelona.

ELO holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hits (20) without a number one. The band’s music combined elements of rock, pop, classical music, and electronic music, and they were known for their elaborate live shows featuring a string section and light show. ELO’s music has influenced many other artists and has been used in numerous films, television shows, and commercials.

Hurry Up John – The Idle Race
10538 Overture
Bluebird is Dead
So Fine
I’m Alive
Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King
Tonight – The Move
Roll Over Beethoven
Fire on High
Do Ya
Don’t Bring Me Down
The Diary of Horace Wimp
Rain is Falling

  1. Baroque music is a style that emerged in Europe in the 17th century, characterized by elaborate melodies, intricate harmonies, and ornate embellishments. Baroque composers, such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, often wrote music for churches, courts, and public performances, employing various forms such as the sonata, concerto, and opera. Baroque music is known for its emotional intensity, technical virtuosity, and use of counterpoint, or the interweaving of multiple melodies. The Baroque period also saw the development of new instruments, such as the violin and the harpsichord, which became central to the music of the time. Baroque music continued to influence composers in later periods and remains a popular genre today. [Back]
  2. Hipgnosis was a British design studio founded in 1968 by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, known for creating iconic album covers for some of the biggest names in music, including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Hipgnosis’ designs were often surreal and highly conceptual, incorporating a wide range of techniques and materials to create memorable images that became synonymous with the music they represented. The studio’s work helped to define the visual aesthetic of the 1970s music scene, and its influence can still be seen today in contemporary design. Hipgnosis disbanded in 1983, but its legacy continues to be celebrated through retrospectives and exhibitions of its work. [Back]
  3. Wizzard was a British glam rock band led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Roy Wood, who was previously a member of the successful bands The Move and Electric Light Orchestra. Formed in 1972, Wizzard was known for its over-the-top live performances, flamboyant costumes, and hit singles such as “See My Baby Jive” and “Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad)”. The band’s sound was characterized by its use of horns, strings, and vocal harmonies, as well as Wood’s distinctive falsetto vocals. Wizzard released three studio albums and several singles before disbanding in 1975. Roy Wood went on to pursue a successful solo career. [Back]
  4. Barcus Berry is a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of instrument pick-ups, which are devices that convert the sound of an acoustic instrument into an electrical signal that can be amplified or recorded. The company was founded in 1969 by Tom Barcus and Gary Berry and has since become a leading provider of pick-ups for a wide range of instruments, including violins, guitars, and banjos. Barcus Berry’s pick-ups are known for their high quality and reliability and are used by professional musicians around the world. In addition to pick-ups, the company also produces a range of other products for musicians, including amplifiers and accessories. [Back]
  5. The Midnight Special was a late-night musical variety show that aired in the United States from 1972 to 1981. Hosted by Wolfman Jack, the show featured live performances by popular musicians of the time, including Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The show was known for its eclectic mix of musical genres and its energetic atmosphere, with Wolfman Jack serving as the charismatic emcee. The Midnight Special was a cultural phenomenon of the 1970s, introducing new artists and styles to a wide audience and becoming a must-see event for music fans. [Back]
  6. Musicland Studios was a recording studio located in Munich, Germany, that operated from 1969 to 1995. The studio was famous for its state-of-the-art equipment and its association with many notable musicians, including David Bowie, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. Bowie recorded three of his most iconic albums there: “Low,” “Heroes,” and “Lodger.” Musicland Studios also played a significant role in the development of disco music, with producer Giorgio Moroder and his collaborators recording hits such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” at the studio. Unfortunately, the studio was forced to close in 1995 due to financial difficulties. [Back]

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: