HISTORY OF THE BAND
The Story Began in 1970...
The story starts in 1970 in Birmingham, England, where the Electric Light Orchestra began their journey as one of the world's most popular rock bands. Their music was characterized by a fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography.
Mik Kaminski joined the band in 1973 with his legendary blue violin. The classic lineup of ELO solidified in 1974 with the addition of bassist/singer Kelly Groucutt and orchestrator Lou Clark, who augmented the band's unique orchestral rock sound with his inventive classical arrangements. Mik, Lou, and Kelly played their way onto an astonishing library of hit records that sold more than 50 million copies. The albums include Eldorado, Face the Music, A New World Record, Out of the Blue, Discovery and Xanadu.
After the original line-up of ELO broke up in 1986, drummer Bev Bevan created ELO Part II in 1988 with English guitarist Pete Haycock, American keyboardist and songwriter Eric Troyer, and ELO former members Kaminski, Clark, Groucutt, and cellist Hugh McDowell. The band later recruited English guitarist Phil Bates to fill out the lineup. Groucutt, Bates, and Troyer were all accomplished lead and harmony singers which provided an abundance of vocal riches that pushed the band's classic sound into fresh sonic territory. Phil Bates left ELO Part II in 1998 and was replaced by American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Parthenon Huxley.
In late 1999 drummer Bevan retired and was replaced with American drummer Gordon Townsend. The band began touring as THE ORCHESTRA in 2000. The new lineup released a brilliant album called No Rewind. The album features original songs by Kaminski, Troyer, Huxley, and Groucutt, as well as a stunning interpretation of "Twist and Shout."
Nine years later in 2009, THE ORCHESTRA bassist and congenial front man, Kelly Groucutt, suddenly passed away the day after performing a concert with the group in Berlin, which was a devastating shock to the band and to class rock fans around the world. His boyhood home features a plaque honoring Kelly's accomplishments with ELO. THE ORCHESTRA recruited occasional ELO Part II member and former Styx bassist, guitarist, songwriter, and singer Glen Burtnik to fill Kelly's spot center stage.
While Lou Clark's multi-talented son, Louis Clark Jr., worked with ELO Part II in the 90s, he became a permanent band member with THE ORCHESTRA in 2015. The father and son team lived the dream of performing together onstage around the world until 2021 when Louis Clark Sr. passed away. Louis Jr. now carries on in his late father's role as orchestral keyboardist and symphonic conductor, along with the occasional romp on cello and guitar.
These days multi-instrumentalist Cliff Hillis joins the band on select shows and brings an extra layer of vocals, guitar, and sometimes bass to THE ORCHESTRA's dynamic sound.
In 2022, Ad Hoc Media Partners produced the documentary No Rewind: History of the Band, Story of the Album, providing rare behind-the-scenes band footage, stories of life on the road, and performances of each song from the album No Rewind. Edited together in a music video style, the film is a fast-moving reveal of how this iconic band has earned its place in rock and roll history.
Over the years the members of THE ORCHESTRA have played ELO's greatest hits to millions of fans in over fifty countries.