THE KELLY GROUCUTT INTERVIEW

By Martin Kinch

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio - 22nd August 1996

Kelly and Me

Martin Good evening, with me in the studio tonight I have a very special guest, Kelly Groucutt, who was in the original "Electric Light Orchestra" but now in "ELO Part II" who are playing at Aylesbury this Thursday evening at the Civic Centre there. Good evening Kelly thanks for coming along.

Kelly Good evening Martin, its really good to be here.

Martin I'm glad you could make it. Are you looking forward to playing in Aylesbury?

Kelly Ooh yes indeed, I'm not sure that we've ever played there before, erm I don't think so.

Martin No, I don't believe you did.

Kelly No

Martin Nevermind, well good luck with the gig anyway.

Kelly Thank you.

Martin Now, you were in the original "ELO" as I said, lets go back a bit before that because for people that may not know, myself included, what were you doing before you joined "ELO"?

Kelly Oh all those years ago! ( he laughs) Actually I joined "ELO" in 1974, so that's a fair way in the past anyway. I'm getting too old too remember all these things, but before that I was with several bands around the West Midlands area, mainly the Black Country. Probably the one that's most noticeable, or noted, was a band called "Sight and Sound" and in fact there's still a version of them going.

Martin Is there?

Kelly That was a, cabaret show band if you like. I used to do crazy things like shove balloons up a jumper and don a wig and hotpants and things (laughs) and do an impression of Nancy Sinatra and stuff like that!

Martin I heard you still did that?!

Kelly Oh no, no, no, no, I gave that up a long time ago!

Martin Wasn't Rick Price in that band as well?

Kelly Erm, he actually was at one point there was a lot of members in "Sight and Sound" over the years, and Rick Price was one

Martin Right. So how did the big "ELO" job come along then?

Kelly It was quite a surprise. Actually I knew Jeff through the drummer in "Sight and Sound" who used to be with the "Idle Race" , Roger Spencer. Consequently Jeff came to see "Sight and Sound" work a couple of times and I was introduced to Jeff through Roger. And this one time he popped in to.. oh in fact I should say that I left "Sight and Sound", erm in 1974 and for about 6 months I sort of buried myself alive in a night-club in Birmingham, which was pretty awful! And then one night Jeff Lynne walked in with Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy and they stood at the back of the place and watched. One of the band members in fact noticed they were standing there and in the break Jeff came and asked me if I wanted to join "ELO", so er..

Martin You said yes!

Kelly I said "yes thank you!" Please take me away from all this!

Martin So you were aware of the band at the time then? Obviously.

Kelly I was, I didn't know a great deal but I remember being impressed with "Showdown" round about that time. I was knocked out with that as a track, and realised at the time that that's the band that's asking me to join it!

Martin So can you remember the first track that you played on?

Kelly Um, I'm not sure about the first track but the first album, anyway, was "Face The Music".

Martin Alright we'll play a track from that. Would you like to pick a track off that for us?

Kelly I would think the obvious one from there would be "Evil Woman"


EVIL WOMAN Plays

ELO perform Evil Woman


Martin "The Electric Light Orchestra" there, "Evil Woman" and our special guest this evening, Kelly Groucutt, who actually played on that track and some backing vocals on there as well, I should think Kelly yeah?

Kelly Yes indeed.

Martin Very good album. Did you enjoy that one?

Kelly I did in fact that was the first real recording I'd ever done.

Martin Yeah.

Kelly So having been thrown in the deep end just a few months before that, going to America, never having owned a passport even! Never been out of the country or flown, when I joined "ELO" the first thing we did was fly to America and to Detroit in particular at that time, to start a tour of America. So that was fairly exciting enough for me never having flown at all.

Martin It must be, and to hear yourselves on the radio and watch yourselves on "Top of the Pops" and all that!

Kelly Oh absolutely, and lie in bed at night listening to the guns going off in the city!! ooh! (Laughs) Very strange.

Martin So what do you think was your... you were with "ELO" from 74 till about 1983 I believe.

Kelly Yeah till about then.

Martin What would you say was your favourite sort of period then with the band?

Kelly Erm, actually its difficult to say, I suppose everybody would expect me to say 1978 when the "Out of the Blue" thing was going on. But by that time the stage production was so big that you didn't actually see the audience, they were so far away with that huge spaceship set that we had that was sort of 50 feet across and miles away from the audience. Erm so it was quite enjoyable to be thrust at that height of it because it was probably about the biggest production on the road that was going on at that time. And everyone was impressed with it but it was a pain in the butt actually, to work in that spaceship! So that were exciting times but I think probably the most exciting was just after I joined, playing to smaller audiences of perhaps 2,000/ 3,000 sometimes down to maybe 350. And ,you know, that was really good because you were really close to the audience too.

Martin I remember coming to see you at Oxford at the time, I think that was the "Face the Music" tour and "Steve Gibbons Band" were supporting.

Kelly That's right, yeah.

Martin Yeah.

Kelly And "Steve Gibbons Band" have supported us in the States on one or two shows.

Martin Any particular gig that sticks out in your mind then? I know you mentioned the spaceship tour.

Kelly Really, I suppose talking about the States, erm they were really big productions over there. The one that springs to mind was in Anaheim, that's in California, which is outside of Los Angeles. Where Charlie Curtis opened the show with a sort of sudo laser shoot out with stunt men on top of the lighting rig, which was a long way up, shooting them off with a laser which was up his arm to look like a gun so he shot them down with little lights of laser beam. And that was a huge production, in fact there was a mock up of the spaceship flown in er, on a helicopter from a distance to look as if we would land in this spaceship on the, er behind the stage.

Martin Oh right!

Kelly Before the drapes dropped away to reveal the real stage. So yeah it was a huge production.

Martin "Out of the Blue" was certainly a massive selling album don't know if you know but it sort of tops the charts as the best selling record in second -hand shops, did you know that?

Kelly No, I didn't know! Really?

Martin Yeah you walk into a second-hand shop you're bound to see a copy of that album.

Kelly Yeah.

Martin So people must be throwing them out I suppose and getting it on CD.

Kelly I was gonna say maybe they're just throwing it out! They're fed up with it after all this time!

Martin O.K. we'll play a track off that, let me see what track we can play. I think you did a lot of the vocals on "Wild West Hero" I'd have thought..?

Kelly Er yup.

Martin Hmm. Lets play that one then.


WILD WEST HERO Plays


Wild West Hero by ELO


Martin There they go riding out into the distance,

Kelly Yee hah!

Martin "ELO" there and "Wild West Hero" from the album "Out of the Blue". What do you think the best thing about being in a mega band was at the time then? Best and worst then?

Kelly Erm, pwoar blimey! That's a, that's a good one. Erm I suppose the best was having, having arrived where you wanted to be, you know? A successful musician I suppose. We were never sort of mobbed at all - thank God! You know we never had sort of teeny boppers screaming after us. Which, believe it or not, is a relief, was a relief because I'm not sure I could stand that sort of thing. So yeah. The nice thing was to travel all over the world. I mean we're very lucky, we've been to places like Japan, Australia several times, New Zealand, Middle East - we've been to with part two. We never did that with the original "ELO"in fact, but we've been all over the place. Places like Hawaii, you know where people just dream about going to. And we actually went and AND got paid for being there, so that's the upside of it.

Martin So in-between gigging and recording for "ELO" you also found time to do some solo stuff as well. Did you enjoy that as much as working with the band or better or..?

Kelly No, actually it was very nerve - wracking.

Martin Yeah?

Kelly With the band , with "ELO", Jeff was producing everything, I, along with rest of the guys, threw in sort of ideas so there was a lot of input from all the other members. But we didn't actually have that pressure of being you know, the one to make it work. When I did my solo album I was producing it myself and the pressure is so much more then, the honours is on you if it doesn't work then you've made a blunders yourself you can't kick anyone else for it.

Martin Now when I knew you were coming down I actually went up into the loft and we've found a copy of your solo album. Maybe you'd like to pick a track off that for us?

Kelly ( In surprise) Oh my God! I'll tell you what I'll let you choose the track you think should be played.

Martin Well I like the track called "Am I a Dreamer?"

Kelly OK well that was actually released as a single, actually it did quite well in Europe.

Martin Mm hmm. Well we'll play that now then.


AM I A DREAMER? Plays



Am I A Dreamer By Kelly Groucutt


Martin That's Kelly Groucutt there, "Am I a Dreamer?" Kelly was recording some solo stuff like that as well as working with the "Electric Light Orchestra". And you were also working with a guy called Jack Green who I believe was formally with "T-Rex". Is that right?

Kelly That's right. Jack used to er, used to play bass at one point with "T-Rex". And we at the time just happened to have the same manager, so I was asked to guest on a couple of er, Jack Green albums, on one track on each erm, in fact a couple of tracks I think on one album.

Martin Right.

Kelly Which was erm not very well, not very involved in it but as a guest was quite nice. I'd never been asked to play sessions before in fact! (Laughs).

Martin It may have been a bit before your time in "ELO" but didn't Mark Bolan play on some "ELO" stuff?

Kelly I've heard that from other sources but never from the horses mouth.

Martin Oh, right.

Kelly So I'm not sure about that.

Martin Er, we'll pass on that then.

Kelly (Laughs)

Martin O.K. so you left "ELO" about 1983 after many hit singles and hit albums about 28 hit singles I think "ELO" had.

Kelly Er yeah.

Martin You left the band I suppose a couple of years before they formally split up. And soon after you got yourselves a little band together called "OrKestra".

Kelly Yes indeed.

Martin Er, tell us the reason behind that.

Kelly Well the reason, I suppose the reason being that er, I'd, this was together with Mik Kaminski, er myself and Mik had done solo stuff and not been sort of wonderfully successful with it. Er, Mik had his own band "Violinski" which at that time had split, I'd done some solo stuff and sort of you know, didn't really have the sort of recondition that I'd liked to have got and there was still ideas floating around so we decided to pool our resources and put together a band called "OrKestra" which was, I suppose, a forerunner of "Electric Light Orchestra Part II". In that we played a lot of the old "ELO" standards and medleised if that's the right word, you know some of the really well known ones because there was so many and interspersed them with "OrKestra" material from the new album that we did. So I suppose it was a forerunner of what we're actually doing right now.

Martin Right, and what did Jeff Lynne think about that at the time?

Kelly I'm not sure what he thought about it umm, I know that at the time we had a , some more legal problems because somebody somewhere.. you can't police the press at all of course, as you know, and you can't police what people say on radio. Even if they're aware of it sometimes they'll drop something out inadvertently and promoters are notorious for actually attempting to sell the product to the nth degree and if they can sort of do something that makes it sell better they will. So instead of being advertised as "OrKestra" at a gig that we did, we were advertised as the "Electric Light Orchestra". And that was totally incorrect and nothing to do with us. But unfortunately Jeff found out about it and threw an injunction our way, so er..

Martin I believe that was in Oxfordshire as well actually, quite near where I live.

Kelly It was in fact in Oxfordshire, yeah. I think it was for the May ball at one of the colleges. And the results, it resulted in it cost me about 5 grand to do exactly what I wanted to do in the first place! (Laughs) From then on we were officially ex-members of "ELO".

Martin I have to say, speaking as a fan, I wasn't aware of that gig but someone came up to me and said " I went to see the Electric Light Orchestra last night." and I said "I don't think so." And they were quite insistent that they had so I imagine something strange had gone on.

Kelly Exactly. It was very difficult at the time because we couldn't change what had happened and it was not in our interests, it certainly wasn't in my interests, to con people into thinking that we were "Electric Light Orchestra" because people are gonna get disappointed there's nothing wrong with telling people that you used to be with "Electric Light Orchestra" and that your gonna play some of the numbers that your well known for as well as your new ones, but you can't get a new band off the ground if you pretend to be an old one. So consequently that's why "ELO Part II" is called Part Two for legal reasons and also to let people know that we're a brand new band.

Martin Yes. Before we go onto "Part II" I think we should take a break and play an "OrKestra" track.

Kelly OK.

Martin Put you back on the spot again, any favourite tracks from then?

Kelly Um ooh blimey. I think probably, probably the single which was released, again, in Europe and not in England and this is called "Fly Away".


FLY AWAY Plays



Fly Away by Orkestra


Martin That's "OrKestra" then and a nice little track called "Fly Away". Now Kelly, some people think maybe when a band is dead, you know, maybe you should leave it and move onto something different. What's your reaction to that?

Kelly I suppose sometimes its best to do that, but when your so well known for doing you know, a certain type of material and you want to integrate the same style, you want to stay with the same style, then there's nothing wrong with letting people know where your roots were especially if your with a band for 20 odd years. So its er, yeah, I can see the point from some peoples point of view but er, if you can put the product together and still make it sound really good, so the people who remember it, you know, are still walk out of the theatre really happy about it then you know that's.. entertainment is the main thing anyway.

Martin I think provided you're doing it well there's no reason why..

Kelly Exactly. Erm if it wasn't being done very well that's fair enough but er, I've been told... erm, its up to people to sort of come along and make a judgement and write to us and let us know or write to you and you can let us know as to whether they think the show is worthy of being called "Electric Light Orchestra Part II".

Martin I've noticed that since that band was put together we've had "Slade II" and quite a few other bands "Part Two", so maybe you've started a new trend.

Kelly Absolutely! Actually I was with Noddy Holder a few weeks ago at a friends wedding, and er, he doesn't have a problem with what's going on with "Slade Part II". It doesn't bother him at all, he couldn't care less because he's quite happy doing what he's doing, you know.

Martin What do the fans think when they turn up to the gigs? Do you think they like to hear all the old stuff or do you think they like to hear the new stuff as well?

Kelly I think a lot of the people have come along to, that remember the old stuff and don't know the new band are obviously more into the old stuff. I think a lot of people come with a sort of sceptics feel as to whether its going to be any good or not and no-ones ever gone away disappointed yet as far as I know. There are a lot of people who came along in the early days of "Part II" to see the old stuff and have gotten into the band as it is now and they've really enjoyed the new material as well.

Martin And the good thing about "Part II" I suppose is that you do get to write some of your own material?

Kelly Exactly, yeah. This is a complete sort of writing partnership between us we all get to have a go at different things so its better in that respect than the original line up.

Martin One of the tracks you wrote that I really do enjoy listening to is a track called "The Fox". Now is that a subject that's dear to your heart?

Kelly Erm, actually it didn't start out like that, although yeah I'm an animal lover I've got a soft spot for animals, and I think fox hunting is particularly despicable but this song wasn't actually written as a protest song, it was purely something that popped into my head one day when I was playing around with a drum machine and it turned out to be this song about a fox that sounds like its a protest song but its not. But it is, in fact, the story of a fox hunt as seen from the perspective of the fox.


THE FOX Plays



The Fox performed by Kelly Groucutt (Solo)


Martin That's a track called "The Fox" performed there by the "Electric Light Orchestra Part II". It was written and sung by our special guest this evening, Kelly Groucutt, and its one of the tracks you can hear when "ELO Part II" play at Aylesbury Civic Centre this Thursday evening. And while Kelly takes a breather we'll play another track from the band this is in fact an old one so you should all know this, its called "Mr Blue Sky".


MR BLUE SKY Plays


Martin There you go, I hope you were all singing along to that one. "Mr Blue Sky" originally a hit for "ELO" that is "Part II's" version which can in fact be found on their new live CD which is called "One Night". With me in the studio tonight is bassist Kelly Groucutt and Kelly I was gonna ask you if the band had got any plans to celebrate "ELO's" 25th anniversary next year?

Kelly Well were looking at it, we've got sort of people looking at idea's and things but we've, it would be nice to do a tour of various places mainly the world (laughs) but I doubt we could actually get the funds together for that. But we'd like to do a lot of gigs with real orchestras, which we've done some, in fact "Part II" have got an album which we recorded live in Sydney, Australia last year, with a complete orchestra and we've done a couple in the states as well. So it'll be really nice to do a full blown tour of Britain with an orchestra because I don't think we've done that.

Martin I suppose the trouble with touring with an orchestra like that is it works out quite expensive. Does it?

Kelly It does. The best thing to do really, and its quite nice to do it, is to actually take the leaders of the orchestra, which is what we did in Australia, take the leaders of the orchestra with you wherever you go which is the sort of core and then bring in musicians from locally when you hit a new city and it becomes more cost effective then. But its still very expensive to fly a lot of people around and cater for them as well, but we're looking for sponsors actually for the 25th anniversary tour.

Martin Alright then, good luck with that. Let me ask you, when "ELO Part II" are resting do you go out and do gigs under your own name, or with any other bands at all?

Kelly No I don't. I actually had a spell in-between "Part II" almost splitting up and getting back together again a couple of years age, and I went out and did sort of pubs and clubs and things as a solo act which was quite enjoyable, sometimes. (Laughs) And sometimes it wasn't! But no, now I'm sort of concentrating on writing and er, or trying to concentrate on writing, maybe for a future solo album.

Martin Good luck with that as well.

Kelly Thank you.

Martin Any favourite artists at all that you listen to at home or you'd like to work with?

Kelly Oh, actually lots erm, particularly some of the new girl singers they're great. Alanis Morrisette and Sheryl Crow and Björk. Is it Björk? Is that right?!

Martin Yeah something like that.

Kelly It sounds as though your throwing up actually but its Björk, as everybody else calls her! (Laughs) So there's some very impressive people around, and "Oasis" are great, although I shouldn't be saying that because I'm an old man, maybe! But because sort of certain connection to sounds to you know "The Beatles" and "ELO" and all that.

Martin Yeah, in fact one of the members of "ELO" did some session work for them, we were talking about that earlier, a guy called Wilf Gibson, plays a bit of cello with "Oasis". So there's a bit of a connection there. Tell me, if "ELO Part II" were to split up what would you do? Would you form another band?

Kelly Erm, that's difficult to say. I wouldn't mind, if that actually happened, doing something in the Country music scene because its a rapidly expanding music scene and I quite enjoy Country music.

Martin OK well good luck with that and when you do, if you do record anything else make sure you get us a copy and we can play it exclusively to our patients and staff here at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Kelly You know very well you'll be the first Martin!

Martin I was going to ask you about plans for the future but I think we've just about covered that, good luck with the gig on Thursday.

Kelly Thursday the 29th at Aylesbury Civic Centre.

Martin I'll be there,and thanks also for giving us some tickets to give out to patients and staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Kelly That's great, thank you.

Martin And we'll see you on Thursday.

Kelly Its my pleasure, bye bye.

Martin That was Kelly Groucutt from "ELO Part II" we'll finish on a new track from them, from their new live CD this is "It Ain't Necessarily So".
IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SO Plays



Painstakingly transcribed by:- Louise Kilcline.

With thanks to:- John Kilcline.

This interview is © Martin Kinch and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission

Please note....

This interview was recorded when "ELO Part II" was the name of the band that Kelly was in.The band are now called "The Orchestra"


 

As a fan of Roy Wood, ELO and related artists I've been lucky enough over the years to get to know
some of the members of the various bands,
I'd known Kelly for over 20 years and shared a few pints, lots of gigs and many funny emails with him.
Kelly was married to Anna, a good friend of mine who I've known forever,
and I was honoured to attend their wedding back in 2006.
As a coincidence, on the afternoon of 19th February 2009 I was actually having a meal and a pint with another ex
ELO member, Mike de Albuquerque when I received the phone call from Anna confirming that Kelly has passed away
(for those that do not know, Kelly replaced Mike in the band)
We both raised a glass to a very talented musician and a very nice bloke.

An Electric Light has gone Out :-(

Cheers Kelly - R.I.P


Back in 1997 my Brother was recording a CD of his songs,
He knew I knew Kelly and he asked me if I thought Kelly would do the vocals
on a track that he thought would suit his voice,
I wasn't sure that Kelly would be interested but I asked anyway and he was more than happy to do it,
The Youtube video below features that very song (with thanks to Ken Latta for some of the live photos)


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