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ELO Biography

Home > Music > E > ELO > Biography

Birth Place: Birmingham, England
Years Active: 1970–1983, 1985–1986, 2000–2001
Genres: Rock, Symphonic Rock, Pop Rock

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) were a British rock group from Birmingham, who released eleven studio albums between 1971 and 1986 and another album in 2001. ELO were formed to accommodate Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne's desire to create modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones. After Wood's departure following the band's debut record, Lynne wrote and arranged all of the group's original compositions and produced every album.

By the mid-1970s, they had become one of the biggest selling bands in music.

Their album “Face the Music” was released in 1975, producing the hit singles "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic". It peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 chart where it spent 48 weeks. The album was the band's first to reach Platinum sales and laid the groundwork for future world success.

The platinum selling A New World Record, hit the top ten there in 1976. It contained the hit singles "Livin' Thing", "Telephone Line", "Rockaria!" and "Do Ya." The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold five million units worldwide within its first year of release.

“A New World Record” was followed by a multi-platinum selling album, the double-LP “Out of the Blue,” in 1977. The album went to #5 on the Billboard 200 chart. “Out of the Blue” featured the singles "Turn to Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Mr. Blue Sky", and "Wild West Hero", each becoming a hit in the United Kingdom.

In 1979, the multi-platinum album “Discovery,” (or "Disco? Very!", as fans refer to it), was released. Although the biggest hit on the album (and ELO's biggest hit overall) was the rock song "Don't Bring Me Down", the album was noted for its heavy disco influence. “Discovery” also produced the hits "Shine a Little Love", "Last Train to London", "Confusion" and "The Diary of Horace Wimp". The album itself was the first ever to generate four top-ten singles (one of which was a Double A-side) from a single LP in the UK and was eventually certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in 1997. The album again peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart. The Electric Light Orchestra finished 1979 as the biggest selling act in the United Kingdom.

In 1980 Jeff Lynne was asked to write for the soundtrack of the musical film “Xanadu,” with the other half written by John Farrar and performed by the film's star Olivia Newton-John. The movie performed poorly at the box office, but the soundtrack did exceptionally well, eventually going double platinum. The album spawned hit singles from both Newton-John ("Magic," #1 in the United States, and "Suddenly" with Cliff Richard) and ELO ("I'm Alive", which went gold, "All Over the World" and "Don't Walk Away"). The title track, performed by both Newton-John and ELO, is ELO's only song to top the singles chart in the United Kingdom.

In 1981 ELO's sound changed again with the science fiction concept album “Time,” a throwback to earlier, more progressive rock albums. “Time” topped the U.K. charts for two weeks and was the last ELO studio album to date to be certified platinum in the United Kingdom. Singles from the album included "Hold on Tight", "Twilight", "The Way Life's Meant to Be", "Here Is the News" and "Ticket to the Moon".

ELO essentially disbanded after that final show in Stuttgart in 1986, but there was no announcement made of it for the next two years. Bevan approached Lynne to make another ELO album in 1988. Lynne was not interested and went on to announce that ELO was no more.

Jeff Lynne's comeback with ELO began in 2000 with the release of a retrospective box set, “Flashback.” In 2001 “Zoom,” ELO's first album since 1986, was released. Though billed and marketed as an ELO album, the only returning member other than Jeff Lynne was Richard Tandy, who performed on one track.

From 1972 to 1986, ELO accumulated 27 Top 40 hit singles in both the UK and the US. The group also scored 20 Top 20 U.K. hit singles, as well as 19 Top 20 hit singles in the U.S. Billboard charts. The band also holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits of any band in US chart history without ever having a number one single.