May 30, 2024

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Richard Tandy, ELO keyboardist who shaped band’s futuristic sound, dies aged 76 | Music

Richard Tandy, the keyboardist in Electric Light Orchestra who shaped much of the British rock band’s sound, has died aged 76.

His death was announced by the ELO leader Jeff Lynne, who wrote on social media: “He was a remarkable musician and friend and I’ll cherish the lifetime of memories we had together.” A cause of death was not given.

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of my long-time collaborator and dear friend Richard Tandy. He was a remarkable musician & friend and I’ll cherish the lifetime of memories we had together.
Sending all my love to Sheila & the Tandy family.

— Jeff Lynne’s ELO (@JeffLynnesELO) May 1, 2024

Born in Birmingham in 1948, Tandy met his future ELO bandmate Bev Bevan at school. He was recruited by Bevan to play harpsichord on the Move’s 1968 single Blackberry Way, which reached No 1 on the UK’s singles chart.

In 1972, Tandy joined the Electric Light Orchestra, which had formed two years earlier as a side project of the Move. Along with Lynne and Bevan, Tandy was one of three core members who remained in ELO until it disbanded in 1986.

Tandy initially played bass guitar with ELO before becoming the band’s keyboardist. He played the Minimoog synthesiser, a Wurlitzer electric piano, the Clavinet, Mellotron and piano, which made him key in shaping the band’s unique prog rock, futuristic space-opera sound.

In the years ELO recorded and toured, they sold more than 50m records worldwide and had 27 songs reach the Top 40 in the UK singles chart, and 15 in the Top 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, still holding the record for the most Hot 100 hits without a No 1.

ELO pictured in 1975; Tandy pictured bottom left. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Tandy was Lynne’s right-hand man in the studio, helping to arrange strings and providing backing vocals, and played on every ELO album except 1971’s No Answer. When Bevan attempted to reform ELO in 1988, Tandy and Lynne declined to join. Bevan would form the band ELO Part II, later known just as The Orchestra. When Lynne reformed the band as Jeff Lynne’s ELO in 2014, Tandy joined again.

Tandy and Lynne also collaborated on non-ELO projects, including the Electric Dreams soundtrack.

In 1985, Tandy formed the Tandy Morgan Band with musicians Dave Morgan and Martin Smith, both of whom had performed live with ELO, and released a concept album titled Earthrise.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of ELO, alongside Lynne, Bevan and Roy Wood, who co-founded the group before leaving in 1972 to form Wizzard.

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