The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are an English rock band from Birmingham formed in 1970 by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne with drummer Bev Bevan. Their music is characterized by a fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography. After Wood’s departure in 1972, Lynne became the group’s leader, arranging and producing every album while writing virtually all of their original material.
The band was formed to accommodate Wood’s and Lynne’s desire to create modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones, deriving as an offshoot of Wood’s previous band the Move, of which Lynne and Bevan were also members. ELO were most active during the 1970s and 1980s, recording a string of studio albums that include the conceptual works Eldorado (1974) and Time (1981). For their initial tenure, Lynne, Bevan, and keyboardist Richard Tandy were the group’s only consistent members. In 1986, Lynne lost interest in the band and ceased its operation. Bevan responded by forming his own band, ELO Part II, which later became the Orchestra. With the exception of a short-lived reformation in 2000–01, ELO remained largely inactive for the next three decades. In 2014, Lynne reformed the band once again with Tandy as Jeff Lynne’s ELO, where he resumed concert touring and new recordings under the moniker.
During ELO’s original 13-year period of active recording and touring, they sold over 50 million records, collecting 19 CRIA, 21 RIAA and 38 BPI awards, Despite early singles’ success in the United Kingdom, the band was initially more successful in the United States, where they were billed as “The English guys with the big fiddles”. From 1972 to 1986, ELO accumulated twenty Top 20 songs on the UK Singles Chart, and fifteen Top 20 songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. The band also holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits, 20, of any group in US chart history without having a number one single.