Kelly Groucutt was one of the longer tenured supporting players in the lineup of the Electric Light Orchestra, serving as the latter group's bassist and one of its most visible singers for almost a decade, from 1974 until 1983. He was born Michael "Kelly" Groucutt in 1945 in Coseley, Staffordshire. Music interested him from an early age, and he started out as a singer at age 15, when he joined his first band. He took up the guitar at 17, and then, at 21, started learning the bass. He passed through several early bands, including Greenwich Village and Marble Arch, and during the early '70s joined Sight & Sound, a pop-oriented progressive rock band that had previously been home to Rick Price of the Move. He later joined ELO, where he was installed not only as bassist but also, for a long time, as co-lead vocalist alongside Jeff Lynne. He cut his first solo album, Kelly (1982, RCA) with assistance from ELO's Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Louis Clark, and Mik Kaminski. Groucutt's relationship with Lynne and ELO changed markedly in the early '80s, as the leader reduced his role as a singer and eventually took over playing the bass parts himself on their records. Groucutt's relationship with Lynne and the band ended acrimoniously, amid lawsuits over Lynne's plan to disband the group, and he eventually received a settlement.
He pursued a solo career from that point on, under his established name and, for a time, under the group alias "Player," which included his old ELO bandmate Mik Kaminski. Eventually, he and Kaminski began working under the name "OrKestra" performing ELO songs with which they were associated, and cut a pair of albums, Beyond the Dream and Roll Over Beethoven. They also played for a time with Bev Bevan's Electric Light Orchestra Part II in the early '90s, and eventually became full-time members of that band. In addition to his work with them, Groucutt was known for doing one-off one-man shows in the Midlands, in which he performed songs from the '50s and '60s, sometimes as Kelly G or Michael Groucutt. Kelly Groucutt passed away in early 2009, of a heart attack, at the age of 63. ~ Bruce Eder