Kelly Groucutt

Vocals, Bass Guitar

Michael "Kelly" Groucutt was born on 8th September 1945 in Coseley and was ELO's bass player, co-lead vocalist and backing vocalist from October 1974 to October 1983. Kelly had his first appearance at the age of fifteen, when he joined his first band as a singer. Two years later he started learning to play the guitar, and four years later the bass. Although naturally left-handed, Kelly always plays right-handed, because when he first started, he had no idea that such thing existed as a left-hand version!

In 1965 he was with a group called Greenwich Village, playing bass and singing. Two years later he became a member of Marble Arch. In the early 70s he played bass and sang lead vocals in Sight And Sound, the cabaret-group Rick Price had been in earlier. It was a very respected comedy band, which saw Kelly giving impressions of Nancy Sinatra(!), Gilbert O'Sullivan and other roles. After leaving Sight And Sound he played in clubs with Barefoot, a group he had joined in the autumn of 1974 for six months. Kelly was asked to join ELO when Jeff, Bev and Richard went to a Barefoot gig at a nightclub in Birmingham called "Snobs".

Kelly Groucutt had been married to Carol and has four children Christopher (born 1971), Steven (born 1977) and Robin (born 1980) and a daughter, Jenny.

In 1979 Kelly Groucutt started working on his first solo album which was finished from May to June 1981 with the help of Bev, Richard, Louis Clark and Mik. All the material was written and sung by Kelly who also played all guitars and the bass. Louis Clark arranged and conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra strings on it. The album, released in March 1982 on RCA and simply entitled "Kelly" was released when Kelly was with ELO on the European tour, which he combined with promoting his album. Kelly promoted his single outtake "Oh Little Darling" together with Mik Kaminski on violin, Dave Morgan on bass, Terry Parodoe on drums (!) and Billy Mack on keyboard in the German TV show 'Musikladen' in March 1982.

In 1982, Kelly started recording for a second album at Regents Park Studios in St. John's Wood, which also included Bev, Richard, Louis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. But Riva Records, who had signed Kelly for the USA, showed no interest in that second album and so they released Kellys first album in 1983 with a lot of changes Kelly had to make. The whole album got a new mastering with a bright, rich and clearer sound. It also had a new 'shaved Kelly' artwork.

Jeff Lynne reduced Kelly's co-lead singing to only backing vocals on albums from 1980 onwards, and began to play bass himself, so The Electric Light Orchestra's 1983 effort "Secret Messages" saw Kelly only on a few tracks playing bass and singing backing vocals. When Kelly was told that Jeff wanted to finish ELO, Kelly sued his boss Jeff Lynne for, as Kelly stated, not paying him the money he owed him. Jeff however kept cool at the beginning and said: "He was an employee and was paid that way. Instead of spending his money on lawyers he should check his contracts properly first!" Kelly saw the case from a different point of view and tried to sue Jeff for one quarter of the money the group had earned since 1974. Kelly said about the case: "During my time with ELO I was paid a yearly salary of about £ 50 000 by Jeff. For this I went on tour since October '74 and played on all LPs in the studio." In the end his lawyers were partially successful: Kelly Groucutt received £ 300 000 of the royalties of The Electric Light Orchestra.

From now on Kelly went for a solo career. But his bad luck, concerning his solo releases still stuck with him for a while. He was asked to write a theme tune for the children's TV show "The Mini Pops" in 1984, but when the record was due to be released to promote the show, the producer Mike Mansfield decided to use no theme tune at all. The following year the EP "We Love Animals", a benefit record for the animal protection organisation RSPCA was released. It contained three tracks all written by Kelly, one of them being "The Fox". In 1986 "Am I A Dreamer" was re-released under the group name Player. It was again a remix of the 1983 re-mixed version. Kelly thought that it was better for him to try it under a different name, and decided to call himself Player. His old ELO mate Mik Kaminski was also included in Player who in fact plays his violin on the A-side. Like all Kelly's solo projects, Player didn't make it into the charts.

When Jeff Lynne stated that he had no future plans for The Electric Light Orchestra in 1986, Mik Kaminski looked for a new job. As Kelly and Mik wanted to perform "their" ELO songs live and they knew that this was no good under the name Player, they looked for musicians and founded OrKestra. They played a few live gigs between 1987 and 1989 and released two albums, "Beyond The Dream" and "Roll Over Beethoven".

After playing some live shows with Electric Light Orchestra Part II in 1991, Kelly and Mik left the group because of the Arden's dismanagement. When OrKestra's album "Beyond The Dream" was released, they played as special guests within ELO Part II on their German tour. In October 1992 they re-joined ELO Part II as full time members.

When Kelly was not involved with ELO Part II, he sometimes did small one man gigs in the Midlands singing 50's and 60's songs in pubs and clubs under the name Kelly G. or Michael Groucutt.

He continued touring the world as a member of ELO Part II which later became The Orchestra after Bev Bevan had left the group. His songs, his bass playing and his vocals are featured on ELO Part II's second album Moment of Truth as well as on The Orchestra's album No Rewind.

On February 19th, 2009 Kelly sadly paased away following a heart attack.

Information compiled by Marc Haines, Patrik Guttenbacher and Alexander von Petersdorff.
Shortened excerpt taken from their book "Unexpected Messages"

last modified: 07.02.2010