20 February 2009

Kelly Groucutt, Electric Light Orchestra Bassist, Dies at 63

1950.Michael William Groucutt, known professionally as Kelly Groucutt, a member of the Electric Light Orchestra during their signature years, died of a heart attack yesterday in the UK. He was 63 years old.

Kelly joined the lineup, replacing original bassist Mike De Albuquerque, with the Face The Music album (1974) the album which gave us the early ELO hits "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic". He remained, with his high-pitched backing vocals and intricate bass work helping to craft the classic ELO sound through 1983's Secret Message, though more than one source makes plain that he at most only performed four songs on it.

In 1983, Kelly split somewhat bitterly from the group, unhappy with royalty payments, a move which culminated in lawsuits against band managment and group leader, Jeff Lynne.

Post-ELO, he remained active in music, recording at least two solo albums and collecting a small core of devoted fans. In 1989, he joined former ELO bandmates Bev Bevan and Mik Kaminski with a few other players to form the ELO-revival group Electric Light Orchestra Part II. In 2000, ELO Part II became The OrKestra. He also had a small session band which did live gigs around the area he lived.

Kelly was my first favorite bassist, and he's one of the reasons I remain in love with the bass and consider it integral to any real rock band.

As old as some rock dinosaurs get these days, 63 years seems an extremely untimely death.

He will be missed by many.

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