Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio - 22nd August 1996
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.
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?
Ooh yes indeed, I'm not sure that we've ever played there before, erm I don't
Martin No, I don't believe you did.
Martin Nevermind, well good luck with the gig anyway.
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"?
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
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?!
Oh no, no, no, no, I gave that up a long time ago!
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",
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
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.
Very good album. Did you enjoy that one?
Kelly I did in fact that
was the first real recording I'd ever done.
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.
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)
Martin So what do you think was your... you were
with "ELO" from 74 till about 1983 I believe.
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.
That's right, yeah.
Kelly And "Steve
Gibbons Band" have supported us in the States on one or two shows.
Any particular gig that sticks out in your mind then? I know you mentioned the
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!
Before the drapes dropped away to reveal the real stage. So yeah it was a huge
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?
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.
So people must be throwing them out I suppose and getting it on CD.
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.
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!
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.
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
Kelly No, actually it was very nerve - wracking.
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.
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
Kelly( In surprise) Oh my God! I'll tell you what I'll
let you choose the track you think should be played.
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
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.
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).
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.
So I'm not sure about that.
Martin Er, we'll pass on that then.
Martin O.K. so you left "ELO"
about 1983 after many hit singles and hit albums about 28 hit singles I think
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".
Martin Er, tell us the reason behind that.
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
Martin Right, and what did Jeff Lynne think about that at
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..
I believe that was in Oxfordshire as well actually, quite near where I live.
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.
Put you back on the spot again, any favourite tracks from then?
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
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?
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.
I think provided you're doing it well there's no reason why..
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
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,
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.
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.
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?
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 performed by Kelly Groucutt (Solo)
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.
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.
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
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?
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?!
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.
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
Kelly You know very well you'll be the first
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.
I'll be there,and thanks also for giving us some tickets to give out to patients
and staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
This interview was recorded when "ELO Part II"
was the name of the band that Kelly was in. The band are now called "The
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.
Light has gone Out :-(
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)