Sad news for music fans concerning West Midlands musician Kelly Groucutt who passed away suddenly from a heart attack at age 63 on February 19, 2009. Kelly was known world-wide as bass guitarist/vocalist with Brum's famous Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) who evolved from the acclaimed 1960's pop group The Move.
Born on September 8th 1945 at Coseley Staffordshire, Michael William Groucutt formed his first group as "Rikki Burns and The Vibras" in the early 1960s. He was later involved with a number of West Midlands groups including Greenwich Village, Marble Arch, and Sight & Sound - a band that went through several different line-ups that reads almost like a "who's who" of Brumbeat.
The Kelly Groucutt story is a genuine "rags to riches" one. In 1974, Michael was playing with a local group called 'Barefoot' at Snobs - a popular Birmingham night club. He was discovered there by Jeff Lynne and was enlisted to the ELO line-up as replacement for departing bassist Michael D'Albuquerque who left during the recording of the internationally successful "Eldorado" album.
From then on, Michael became known as "Kelly" to avoid confusion with other ELO members who were also named Michael. He went literally overnight from playing clubs and pubs in Birmingham to touring America, performing on stage in giant stadiums to audiences of thousands and appearing on TV shows like "Top of The Pops".
Kelly Groucutt spent almost ten years with the Electric Light Orchestra during their period of greatest commercial success. Starting with "Face The Music" he recorded several albums with ELO that sold in the millions and toured with the band all over the world.
Kelly's distinctive high harmony vocal combined with Jeff Lynne's lead became an integral part of the classic ELO sound so familiar on their biggest selling records. Unfortunately, Kelly later had a falling-out with Jeff Lynne which effectively ended his tenure with the band by 1983.
After leaving ELO, Kelly Groucutt got involved with other musical projects which included his own solo album and later the band "Orkestra" that featured former ELO members. This later developed into "ELO Part II" when they joined up with Move/ELO drummer Bev Bevan in 1992. The group recorded a number of well-received albums during the next decade as well as touring abroad extensively with the shows featuring covers of ELO's classic hits and album tracks along with new music by the group.
A talented musician and songwriter, Kelly has also played sessions on records by other artistes. Most recently he was touring with and fronting "The Orkestra" (see www.theorchestra.net) with whom he wrote and performed much original music.
My deep sympathy goes out to Kelly's family and friends. We have lost yet another great talent. To read an interview with Kelly Groucutt, visit Martin Kinch's "Cherry Blossom Clinic" website at CHERRY BLOSSOM CLINIC cherryblossomclinic.x10.mx/index.html