Like ELP, KLF, OMD and KFC, ELO was formed using leftover letters from the 1970 World International Scrabble Championships. Budding new bands might be interested to note that three 'P's, a 'J', a 'Q', two 'T's and a 'W' are still available.
The band was the brainchild of Superstar Wrestler Roy Wood and part time choo-choo train driver Jeff Lynne. Lynne was keen to experiment by incorporating traditional orchestral influences into contemporary music, but Wood wanted to steer the group more in a 'wrestling' direction.
Eventually musical and sporting differences led to Roy Wood leaving the group to set himself up firstly as an exhibition wrestler called 'The Wizard', then as a children's entertainer called 'The Wizard', and then finally starting his own group call 'Mrs Mompesson's Avenging Conglomeration of Assorted Terpsichorean Mung Bean Sniffers'.
The band's initial releases consisted entirely of 12 inch records because their name was too long to fit comfortably onto the label of a 7 inch single. When this became too much of a restriction, Wood changed the name of the group to 'Wizard'. In this guise they had their first hit with 'I Wish You Could See My Baby Jive Every Day at Christmas'. This seasonal success prompted Wood to release the singles 'I Wish It Could Be Easter Every Day', 'I Wish It Could Be New Year's Day Every Day', 'I Wish It Could Be Harvest Festival Every Day' and 'I Wish It Could Be August Bank Holiday Monday Every Day'. None of these records achieved the same level of success and are now largely forgotten.
Anyway, we were talking about ELO weren't we? Jeff Lynne's ambition to pursue orchestral themes led to him experimenting with a tuba, much to the annoyance of the people in the flat next door. He subsequently got hold of a trumpet which he straightened out using a selection of plumber's tools, turning it into a single, long brass pipe. In doing so he had inadvertently discovered a reliable and cost effective way of completely knackering a trumpet - a technique which is still in use today.
By this time ELO had already had minor hits with three and a half records, but it was their next single which was to propel them to stardom. 'Mr Blue Sky' was a five minute musical treatise on the dangers of careless weather forecasting. It featured Lynne's patent straightened trumpet and a monkey called Keith Jefferson who played the cymbals. Following this, the band embarked on its first major tour, playing mostly bandstands, chip shops and places where you can get keys cut.
It was the start of the big time for ELO and finally they could afford another letter, extending their name to ELOP. But it couldn't last forever and by the mid-eighties the band found that it was running out of notes. Musical notes were in short supply throughout the industry at this time and as Lynne habitually used a large quantity of them in each of his compositions, he was hit harder than most. Rather than recycling previously used notes and risking infection, Lynne decided to roll up his trumpet and shut up shop. It was at this point that he became a Traveling Wilbury, making a living going from door to door to see if anyone needed any Wilburying doing.
In recent years, Lynne has resurrected the band, writing new songs with some notes that he found behind his fridge one day after moving it to release a trapped bat. And now he's more successful than ever, although if you ever need anything Wilburied you'll find that he's more than willing to help out, as he likes to keep his hand in.