Heavily Inspired by The Beatles They Set out to Develop a style of music first heard on the Beatles 'I am the Walrus' combining Rock and Classical elements. They recorded their Self Titled first album in 1971,an uneven affair With the band still trying to find their sound but did produce the UK hit "10538 Overture" shortly after this Roy Wood Left the band and Formed Wizard who had a more radio friendly sound and Jeff Lynne stepped up to lead the band (the first album was released with the mistaken title of No Answer in the USA, due to a mix-up with an uncompleted telephone call to the American label.
The band went through a line-up change (as Wood took some musicians with him to form Wizard), including a new keyboardist, Richard Tandy, and released ELO II in 1973, from which came their first U.S. chart hit, a cover of the Chuck Berry classic "Roll Over Beethoven". They also released On The Third Day in 1973, and Eldorado in 1974, scoring another U.S. Top 40 hit with "Can't Get It Out Of My Head".
In 1975, bassist and vocalist Kelly Groucutt joined, and Face The Music was released, from which the major singles were "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic", marking a shift to a more "radio friendly" sound. From the same album, the instrumental "Fire on High," with its mix of strings and blazing acoustic guitars, saw heavy exposure as background music on CBS Sports. The multi-platinum album A New World Record was released in 1976 with hits such as "Livin' Thing", ‘’Rockaria’’, a re-release of The Move's "Do Ya", and "Telephone Line". The songs "Livin' Thing" and "Telephone Line" were prominently featured in the films Boogie Nights and Billy Madison, respectively.
That was followed by the double album Out Of The Blue, featuring the singles "Turn To Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Mr. Blue Sky", and ‘’Wild West Hero’’,The band then set out on a world tour, with an enormous (and hugely expensive) space ship set in tow.
In 1979, Lynne set out to capitalize on the growing popularity of disco with the album Discovery (or "Disco very" as he has been quoted). The album generated their biggest hit "Don't Bring Me Down" (the first ELO track not to feature strings), along with "Shine A Little Love" (sampled in 2005 by Lovefreekz) and "Last Train To London" (sampled in 2003 by Atomic Kitten on their hit "Be With You"). Not long after this album, the violinist Mik Kaminski and the two cellists Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale were considered surplus to requirements and dismissed.
It Was this stage in their careers that ELO began being labelled (Rather Mistakenly)''a disco band’ which would further be compounded the following year when ELO were enlisted to provide half of the soundtrack for the musical film Xanadu, the other half provided by Olivia Newton-John, who starred in the movie along with Gene Kelly. The movie bombed but the soundtrack did very well, with hit singles from both Newton-John ("Magic", #1 in the U.S.) and ELO ("I'm Alive" and "All Over the World") as well as the title track to the movie, performed by Newton-John with ELO which reached #1 in the UK single charts.
In 1981, ELO's sound changed again, moving away from disco and into the 1980s, with the science-fiction concept album Time (single: "Hold On Tight”,” Twilight") on which synthesizers replaced classical strings. Following this, their popularity began to wane.
Secret Messages was released in 1983, with a guest appearance by former ELO violinist Mik Kaminski on the track "Rock 'n' Roll Is King"; this was the only hit single taken from this album. Secret Messages was originally recorded as a double album; however, the record company had different ideas,Some of the songs that didn't survive the hatchet job cropped up as single B-sides and on later box sets; however, the tribute song "Beatles Forever" is still unavailable.
By 1986, ELO was reduced to a three-piece band. They released the album, Balance Of Power (singles: "Calling America", "So Serious"), which featured no strings at all, leading many to believe that Jeff Lynne had grown tired of the whole affair, indeed the year after he brought the ELO to a close!
Jeff Lynne went on to be a major producer for some of rocks biggest names and found time to form a band with his great friend, the Late Great George Harrison called the Travelling Wiburys also featuring Tom Petty Bob Dylan and the Late Great Roy Orbison In 1994 he was gifted the job of a life time when the three Remaining Beatles aproached Jeff To produce New Beatles Tracks!so Jeff found himself producing for the Greatest Group of all time and his own heroes. The Hit Singles ''Free as a bird'' and ''Real Love''Followed. Meanwhile elo drummer Bev Bevan had used his 50% share of the name to ressurect ELO which led to a court battle between he and Jeff a compromise was agreed on and Bev's Version Became Known as Electric Light Orchestra Part II ,unfortunatley without Jeff They were Only a pale Shadow Of their former Glory And Despite Gaining a good Reputation as a great live spectacle Their albums soon found their way into the bargain bins,They Continue To Play on minus Bevan under the name of ''Orchestra''.In 2001 Jeff Lynne Announced That A new ELO album was to be released,Although the resultant album was very good, it actually amounted to little more than a Lynne solo Project Featuring some Guest musicians among them Ringo Starr and George Harrison ,original Keyboard Wizard Richard Tandy Played on Two Tracks The album Was called ''Zoom''and was a return to the original idea somewhat featuring less synthesizers and more guitar and cello.Acouple of Tv specials Followed but unfortunatly the Zoom tour was cancelled due to poor ticket sales(many blame this on the record company's lack of Promotion)Indeed many ELO fans were unaware that ELO had 'returned' untill it was too late.Never the less Zoom was A GREAT effort and is being discovered by a new generation of fans(Check it out).Meanwhile we await the reurn of the true ELO ( One Day Hopefully) with Jeff and Bev which i am Sure would be a momentous Occasion.