Wednesday, 16 March 2011
The video is an interview with founder members of the Electric Light Orchestra way back in 1974. Mike Edwards is the rather shy man who is third to speak.
He was one of the two cellists in the original ELO and the one who always presented himself in full evening dress for their concerts.
My parents lived in the West Country from the late 60s and I first heard about Mike when my mother (a classical violinist) mentioned her horror at a rock band having two cellists and a violinist as part of their group. The sheer audacity of electric guitar players thinking they could blend with what, she fervently believed, were instruments mean only for classical music production was enough to give her the vapours - many times.
Around 1973, during a parental visit, I had the pleasure of hearing the ELO at their best in Bristol. Nowadays I have little time for electronically produced music, but the ELO didn't make their sound digitally, they adapted their instruments to emit the sounds they wanted. They were unique and never bettered, although many have imitated them over the years.
Michael Edwards left the group around 1975 but by then I'd heard much about his talent. My mother was even impressed and met him several times over the years as Mike became a cellist of note. I never quite discovered if he left the rock scene because he became a Buddhist or he'd just had enough travelling or perhaps his girlfriend wanted a more settled existence. He continued his musical career by teaching the cello and giving much of his spare time to voluntarily playing for charity.
In early September last year all that came to an end. He was killed in Devon, when a 50 stone bale of hay rolled down a sloping field, burst on to the road and hit his van.
Yesterday the inquest into his death was held in Plymouth and the jury's verdict was accidental death, despite questions from independent health and safety experts over how the bale was secured to the tractor while it was transported.
Mike was 62. RIP.
One of the pieces they played at that concert way back in 1974. For anyone over the age of 60 it may bring back memories.