Hugh McDowell, who played cello in ELO’s classic lineup, 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. 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.”