February 19, 2009- Michael William “Kelly” Groucutt (ELO) was born September 8, 1945 in Coseley, West Midlands, England.
Groucutt began his musical career at 15 as Rikki Storm of Rikki Storm and the Falcons. He went on to sing with various outfits during the ’60s, picking up the guitar as he went along. Groucutt was also a member of a band called “Sight and Sound”, and later with a band called “Barefoot”.
He was a member of a band called “Sight and Sound” before being recruited in 1974 for ELO’s Eldorado tour. Upon joining, he was immediately asked to adopt a stage name because ELO had already had several members named Michael, Mike or Mik; he chose Kelly as being a school nickname. He became a fan favourite and took over lead vocals on a few songs as well as gaining a great rapport with live audiences. His distinctive voice can also be best heard on later ELO songs such as “Nightrider”, “Poker”, “Above the Clouds”, “Sweet Is the Night”, and “The Diary of Horace Wimp”.
The first Electric Light Orchestra album to feature Kelly on bass guitar and as a backing vocalist was 1975’s Face the Music. He continued contributing on the following albums A New World Record (1976), Out of the Blue (1977), Discovery (1979), Xanadu (1980) and Time (1981).
In 1982 he released his self-titled, solo debut album, Kelly. This album featured fellow ELO members Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mik Kaminsky and their orchestral co-arranger and conductor Louis Clark. In 2001 this album was remastered for CD.
Groucutt remained with ELO until the onset of the recording sessions for 1983’s Secret Messages album. It was at this juncture that he left the band, unhappy with royalty payments during his tenure, and made the decision to sue management and band leader Jeff Lynne. A settlement for the sum of £300,000 was reached out of court prior to proceedings. He is credited with playing bass on Secret Messages, although it has been stated from an official source that he only played on four songs (“Train of Gold” and “Rock n Roll is King” from the single disc release and “No Way Out” and “Beatles Forever” from the original double album).
ELO accumulated 26 UK Top 40 hit singles and 20 US Top 40 hit singles. The group also scored 20 Top 20 UK hit singles, as well as 15 Top 20 hits in theUS Billboard charts; they collected 21 RIAA awards, 38 BPI awards and sold over 100 million albums worldwide, 50 million of those being sold between 1971 and 1982.
Kelly left ELO in 1983. Since then he has taken part in some of the many ELO spin-off groups: Orkestra, ELO Part 2, and The Orchestra. He toured worldwide with The Orchestra till his death and also took part in tours as part of a local, little known band called Session 60.
He was 63 years old when he died from a heart attack on February 19, 2009.