Hugh McDowell

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Hugh McDowell
McDowell on tour with ELO in Oslo, Norway, 1978
McDowell on tour with ELO in Oslo, Norway, 1978
Background information
Birth nameHugh Alexander McDowell
Born(1953-07-31)31 July 1953
OriginHampstead, London, England
Died6 November 2018(2018-11-06) (aged 65)
GenresRock music
Progressive rock
Instrument(s)Cello, keyboards
LabelsJet Records

Hugh Alexander McDowell (31 July 1953[1] – 6 November 2018)[2] was an English cellist best known for his membership of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and related acts.


McDowell started playing the cello at the age of four-and-a-half; by the age of 10, he had won a scholarship to the Yehudi Menuhin School. Only one year later he made his first professional appearance in Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, in which he sang. Later he attended Kingsway College of Further Education, the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He played with the London Youth Symphony Orchestra, the London Schools Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and London Youth Chamber Orchestra, until he was persuaded by Wilf Gibson to join The Electric Light Orchestra.

Electric Light Orchestra career[edit]

McDowell performed with the first live line-up of ELO in 1972 while only 19 years old, but left with founding member Roy Wood and horn player/keyboardist Bill Hunt to perform with the group Wizzard. During his time in Wizzard, he played both cello and Moog synthesizer, but returned to ELO in 1973 to replace Colin Walker. McDowell's return was partly motivated by a desire to play more cello and less keyboards as he had done with Wizzard.[3] He remained with the group until Jeff Lynne removed the string players from the line-up.[2] McDowell appeared in promotional videos for the Discovery album, despite not having played on the record.[4] He performed with Electric Light Orchestra Part II[5] in 1991.

Post-ELO life[edit]

In 1980, McDowell played on the album Gift Wrapped by former ELO cellist Melvyn Gale, who had founded the group Wilson Gale & Co.[6] That autumn, he began teaching part-time at the musical instrument technology department of a London higher educational college, the London College of Furniture, now part of the Guildhall University. He conducted a children's orchestra and other orchestras at several London schools.[citation needed]

For a short time around 1982, he was a member of Radio Stars and recorded the single "My Mother Said" with the group.[6]

McDowell was a member of the 20th-century chamber groups George W. Welch, Harmonie Band, and Quorum. He joined the Cornelius Cardew Ensemble, a contemporary music group, in 1995.[citation needed]

More recently, he worked on the 2004 Simon Apple album River to the Sea[citation needed], on the 2005 Saint Etienne album Tales from Turnpike House, the 2005 Wetton Downes album Icon, and appeared as a guest artist on the 2007 Port Mahadia album Echoes in time.[citation needed] He also played cello on Asia's 2008 album Phoenix, on "An Extraordinary Life" and "I Will Remember You". Reference :

McDowell also arranged and recorded for numerous pop, rock, and jazz-fusion albums, as well as collaborating in dance, film, and theatre projects.[7]

He was involved with computer programming and published a music composition program called Fractal Music Composer in 1992.[8] He developed a suite of four programs: Mandelbrot Set Composer, Julia Set Composer, Mandelbrot Zoom and Play Midi.[citation needed]


McDowell died of cancer on 6 November 2018.[2]


  1. ^ Hugh McDowell at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c ELO and Wizzard cellist Hugh McDowell dies at 65: BBC News. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Hugh McDowell". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Classic Tracks: Electric Light Orchestra 'Don't Bring Me Down' -". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra: Where Are the Former Members Now?". April 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Hugh McDowell of Electric Light Orchestra Dies Aged 65". 8 November 2018.
  7. ^ "ELO are back but not as you know them". 21 April 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  8. ^ "ELO Cellist Hugh McDowell Dies at 65". Billboard.

External links[edit]