Keyboardist Richard Tandy, Known for ELO and ‘Mr. Blue Sky,’ Passes Away at Age 76

Richard Tandy, the talented keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist, who dedicated over 50 years to the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), has passed away. The group’s frontman and co-founder, Jeff Lynne, confirmed the news in a statement. While no specific cause of death was mentioned, sources revealed that Tandy had been battling illness for a number of years. He was 76 years old.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of my longtime collaborator and dear friend, Richard Tandy,” Lynne shared on social media. “He was an extraordinary musician and a cherished friend, and I will forever cherish the countless memories we shared together. My heartfelt condolences go out to Sheila and the Tandy family.”

Tandy may have had a low-key visual presence, but his contribution to ELO’s signature sound was monumental. Joining the group in 1973, after their debut album, Tandy’s soaring synthesizers, regal piano, and funky clavinet added both classical and soulful touches to popular hits like “Evil Woman,” “Strange Magic,” “Livin’ Thing,” and “Telephone Line.” Additionally, it was his vocoder-altered voice that can be heard on the group’s 1977 hit, “Mr. Blue Sky.” In recognition of his immense talent, Tandy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 2017.

In the vibrant rock scene of Birmingham in the 1960s, Tandy, a skilled musician, became connected with what would later evolve into ELO through drummer Bev Bevan. At the time, Bevan was a part of the popular group, the Move. Tandy contributed his keyboard skills to the Move’s successful 1968 single “Blackberry Way” and even joined them on several live performances. He eventually took on the role of bassist for the band when Trevor Burton was injured. However, Tandy later left the Move to join another band called the Uglys.

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In 1970, Jeff Lynne, an aspiring musician, joined Bevan and singer-songwriter Roy Wood in the Move. Their shared vision was to create a musical group that blended rock and classical influences, inspired by the likes of the Beatles and the Moody Blues. During this time, the Move and ELO were treated as separate but parallel projects, with both bands having the same lineup. Tandy played a crucial role as a member of both bands, initially as a bassist and later transitioning to keyboards after Wood’s departure in 1973.

Throughout the various phases of ELO, Jeff Lynne was the driving force behind the band as its lead singer, guitarist, songwriter, and producer. However, Richard Tandy played a crucial role as Lynne’s right-hand man, contributing to every iteration of the group. From their progressive-leaning early albums to their R&B and pop phases, Tandy’s presence was felt. He also lent his talents to Lynne’s solo projects, as well as productions for artists like Dave Edmunds and the Everly Brothers, including the iconic “Electric Dreams” soundtrack.

Jeff Lynne, the legendary musician and mastermind behind the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), has recently opened up about his new album and his unexpected passion for touring. In a candid interview, Lynne reveals his excitement for reconnecting with fans through his music and the joy he finds in performing live.

With a career spanning several decades, ELO has become synonymous with hits like “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” and “Livin’ Thing.” Despite the band’s success and worldwide fame, Lynne had not released a new ELO album in over a decade. However, that changed with the release of “From Out of Nowhere” in 2019, which received critical acclaim and delighted fans with its signature ELO sound.

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In discussing the album, Lynne expresses his satisfaction with the creative process and the joy of making music that resonates with listeners. He talks about the importance of staying true to his musical style while also incorporating new elements and ideas. The result is a collection of songs that capture the essence of ELO while offering a fresh and contemporary sound.

But it’s not just the studio that excites Lynne; he has also discovered a newfound love for touring. Despite initially being hesitant about taking to the stage again, he quickly realized the incredible energy and connection that comes from performing live. He describes the thrill of seeing fans singing along to his songs and the unique atmosphere that only a live concert can provide.

Lynne’s passion for touring has led to numerous sold-out shows and a revived appreciation for his music. He acknowledges that the audience’s reaction to his performances has been overwhelming and humbling, fueling his desire to continue touring and sharing his music with fans around the world.

In the interview, Lynne also shares his thoughts on the changes in the music industry and how technology has impacted the way artists create and distribute their music. He reflects on the challenges and opportunities that come with embracing new technologies and the constant evolution of the music landscape.

As he embarks on this new chapter in his career, Jeff Lynne remains grateful for the continued support of his fans and the opportunity to create music that resonates across generations. With his latest album and his newfound love for touring, he continues to captivate audiences and solidify his status as a true musical icon.

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ELO experienced their peak in commercial success during the late 1970s with the release of their albums “Out of the Blue” and “Discovery”. As the 1980s approached, the band, like many others in the pop music scene, began to explore a more electronic sound. During this time, keyboardist Richard Tandy took on an even greater role. However, as the 1980s progressed, ELO lost popularity and in 1986, they released their final album of their original run, titled “Balance of Power”. Following the band’s decline, Jeff Lynne, the frontman of ELO, relocated to California where he collaborated closely with notable musicians such as George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and the Traveling Wilburys.

Lynne brought back ELO in 2001 for the “Zoom” album, and Tandy was part of the band and toured with them. In 2015, when the group was reformed as Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Tandy didn’t play on the album but was still on stage behind his keyboards during the tour. He would occasionally use his vocal microphone to say the vocoder’ed words “Mr. Blue Sky.” Lynne introduced him to the audience with fondness, referring to him as “a guy who’s been playing with me for 44 years.”

In a recent announcement, Jeff Lynne’s ELO disclosed the dates for their upcoming tour, titled “Over and Out.” This tour has been referred to as the band’s “final” tour, although they have not yet revealed the lineup of musicians involved.

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