Former ELO cellist Hugh McDowell died at the age of 65 on Nov. 6, his former colleague Mel Gale confirmed. He’d been ill for some time.

McDowell joined Jeff Lynne’s band in 1972 and made his first studio appearance on its second album, ELO 2, the following year. After a brief absence, when he followed Roy Wood to his new band Wizzard, he returned and was a member of what’s regarded as ELO’s classic lineup of the mid ‘70s, leaving in 1980 after he didn’t appear on their 1979 album Discovery.

“I’m sad beyond words to have to pass on the news that my old friend and fantastic cellist Hugh McDowell passed away last night after a long illness,” Gale reported. “We met in our mid teens and were close until we left ELO in 1980. He was a beautiful free spirit, had such a natural gift as a cellist and [was] just a lovely bloke.”

McDowell made his first professional appearance at the age of 11 after having won a scholarship to the Yehudi Menuhin School in his native England. He progressed through a number of youth orchestras before joining ELO when he was 19.

In 1980 he appeared on Gale’s album Gift Wrapped and went on to teach music and conduct a children’s orchestra, while continuing to arrange music for a wide range of bands. He took part in Bev Bevan’s Electric Light Orchestra Part II project in 1991 and later played on Asia’s Phoenix album in 2008. He retained an interest in music technology, after having played synthesizer in Wizzard and released a computer composition program called Fractal Music Composer in 1992.


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