Kelly Groucutt (Electric Light Orchestra)

Best known for being the bassist for the English rockband Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), between 1974 and 1983, Kelly Groucutt was born 8 September 1945. born Michael William Groucutt, in Coseley, West Midlands.Groucutt began his musical career at 15 as Rikki Storm of Rikki Storm and the Falcons. He went on to sing with various outfits during the ’60s, picking up the guitar as he went along.Groucutt was also a member of a band called “Sight and Sound”, and later with a band called “Barefoot”.It was while playing with Barefoot in Birmingham that he was spotted by ELO’s Jeff Lynne; and after Lynne, Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy had watched him play, he was invited to join ELO, to replace Mike de Albuquerque, who had recently left the band.

Upon joining, he was immediately asked to adopt a stage name because ELO had already had several members named Michael, Mike or Mik; he chose Kelly as being a school nickname.ELO then set off on their Eldorado tour.He soon established himself as a fan favourite by taking over lead vocal duties on a few songs as well as gaining a great rapport with live audiences. His distinctive voice can also be best heard on later ELO songs such as “Nightrider” (1975), “Poker” (1975), “Above the Clouds” (1976), “Sweet Is the Night” (1977), “Across the Border” (1977) and “The Diary of Horace Wimp” (1979). While he did not perform the operatic vocals in the studio, Groucutt often displayed his vocal talents by replicating them during live performances of “Rockaria!” (1976). The first Electric Light Orchestra album to feature Kelly on bass guitar and as a backing vocalist was 1975’s Face the Music. He continued contributing on the following albums A New World Record (1976), Out of the Blue (1977), Discovery (1979), Xanadu (1980) and Time (1981). In 1982 he released his self-titled, solo debut album, Kelly. This album featured fellow ELO members Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mik Kaminski and their orchestral co-arranger and conductor Louis Clark.

In 2001 this album was remastered for CD. Groucutt remained with ELO until the onset of the recording sessions for 1983’s Secret Messages album. Whereupon he left the band, unhappy with royalty payments during his tenure, and made the decision to sue management and band leader Jeff Lynne. A settlement for the sum of £300,000 was reached out of court prior to proceedings. He is credited with playing bass on Secret Messages, although it has been stated from an official source that he only played on four songs (“Train of Gold” and “Rock n Roll is King” from the single disc release and “No Way Out” and “Beatles Forever” from the original double album). He took part in some of the many ELO spin-off groups: OrKestra, ELO Part II, and The Orchestra. He toured worldwide with The Orchestra (former members of ELO and ELO Part II) and also took part in tours as part of a local, little known band called Session. Groucutt sadly died on 19 February 2009, following a heart attack suffered the previous night. His widow died on 11 April 2012.