R.I.P. ELO Cellist Hugh McDowell

The British musician was 65
R.I.P. ELO Cellist Hugh McDowell
Hugh McDowell — a cellist in classic-rock acts Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard — has died. The musician's former bandmate confirmed the news, revealing McDowell succumbed to cancer. He was 65.

McDowell joined ELO in 1972, playing a key role in the group's classic lineup. While he left the band the next year with fellow ELO player Roy Wood to form Wizzard, McDowell returned to ELO shortly after, playing on such albums as 1974's Eldorado and 1975's Face the Music.

As the BBC reports, news of McDowell's passing was confirmed by friend and fellow ELO cellist Melyvn Gale, who broke the sad news in a private Facebook message.

"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 just a lovely bloke."

After starting to play music at a young age, McDowell went on to attend the Kingsway College of Further Education, the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. ELO's Jeff Lynne invited him to join the band when the cellist was just 19 years old.

Besides his brief break from ELO to play in Wizzard, McDowell remained in the band until 1979, after which he pursued a career in classical music and worked on arrangements for various films and theatre projects.

As recently reported, Jeff Lynne's ELO — the latest version of Electric Light Orchestra — will be returning to North America for a 2019 tour. You can see all those dates here.