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ELO’s Hugh McDowell Dead at 65

Former cellist of Electric Light Orchestra Hugh McDowell has died at the age of 65.

Cellist Hugh McDowell who was best known for his work with ELO throughout the 70s, has died at the age of 65.

McDowell joined ELO in 1972 when he was only 19 years old. He briefly left the band with ELO founding member Roy Wood to form the glam rock band Wizzard, but returned to ELO in 1973 to replace cellist Colin Walker. McDowell remained a member of the band until in the last 1970s at which point frontman Jeff Lynne removed string players from the lineup ( ELO had earned their name from their mixture of electric rock and orchestral instruments). McDowell is featured on several classic ELO albums, including 1974’s Eldorado and 1977’s Out of the Blue.

Fellow ELO member Melvyn Gale shared news of McDowell’s passing in a message posted to Facebook. “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 wrote. “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.”

Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes confirmed the news of the musician’s death on Twitter.

Producer Rob Aubrey also paid tribute to McDowell, saying: “Sad to hear of the death of Hugh McDowell. Always fun and a great ear for a cool part… in awe of his tales of life on the road and in the air with ELO. RIP sir.”

No official cause of death has been announced.

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