Hugh McDowell


Hugh Mc Dowell was born on July 31st, 1953 in Hampstead, London and was ELO's cellist from February 1972 to July 1972, then rejoined in December 1973 to September 1979. His only recorded album with The Electric Light Orchestra apart from the live LP, was "Eldorado", all the later albums featured him on the credits but apart from a few little cello solos, he didn't perform on them. At the age of four and a half Hugh started playing cello and by the age of 10 he won a scholarship to the Yehudi Menhuin School Of Music ( from which he was expelled). Only one year later he made his first professional appearance in Benjamin Britten's "Turn Of The Screw", in hich he sang. Later on he went to Kingsway College Of Further Education, the Royal College Of Music and Guildhall School Of Music. He then played with the London Youth Symphony Orchestra, The London Schools Symhony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and London Youth Chamber Orchestra, until he was persuaded by Wilf Gibson to join The Electric Light Orchestra on cello. At that time Hugh was only 17 years old(!).

He left ELO after a few months of live performances in July 1972 to play with Roy Wood's own band Wizzard, for which he played cello and moog synthesizer. His decision to re-join ELO was made because he would have had to play more and more keyboards with Wizzard instead of cello and Jeff Lynne and the other ELO mates were once again hunting for a suitable cellist. So he joined the band again and was allowed to perform his own track "Hugh's Solo/Flight Of The Bumble Bee" live on stage which sometimes lasted up to eight minutes.

After the promotional video for "Discovery" in 1979 he wasn't used any more in ELO. He wasn't fired, just never booked to play in any more ELO projects. In 1980 Hugh Mc Dowell played on the album "Gift Wrapped" by his old ELO mate Melvyn Gale, who had founded the group Wilson Gale & Co. In the autumn of 1980, he started to teach part-time at a London music school. He conducted a children's orchestra and other orchestras at several London Schools.

Hugh later joined the 20th Century Chamber Groups George W. Welch, Harmonie Band and Quorum with whom he toured worldwide. Every now and then the quartet Quorum perform gigs of classical music.

In 1989 he re-joined ELO for the third time in Bev Bevan's Electric Light Orchestra Part II again as a live cello player for their first UK tour after which he was dropped. He then teamed up with Mik & Kelly's band OrKestra with whom he recorded as guest musician on their album and performed every now and then with them.

Hugh is also involved with computer programming and has published a computer program for music composing in 1992 which is called "Fractal Music Composer". He developed a suite for 4 programmes; Mandelbrot Set Composer, Julia Set Composer, Mandelbrot Zoom and Play Midi.

Information compiled by Marc Haines, Patrik Guttenbacher and Alexander von Petersdorff.
Shortened excerpt taken from their book "Unexpected Messages"

last modified: 26.02.2000