Roy Wood Biography

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Roy Adrian Wood, 8 November 1946, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. As a teenager, Wood was a itinerant guitarist, moving steadily through a succession of minor Birmingham groups including the Falcons, the Lawmen, Gerry Levene And The Avengers and Mike Sheridan And The Nightriders. After a failed stab at art school, he pooled his talents with some of the best musicians on the Birmingham beat scene to form the Move. Under the guidance of Tony Secunda, they established themselves as one of the best pop groups of their time, with Wood emerging as their leading songwriter. By the time of ‘Fire Brigade’ (1967), Wood was instilled as lead singer and it was his fertile pop imagination which took the group through a plethora of musical styles, ranging from psychedelia to rock ‘n’ roll revivalism, classical rock and heavy metal. Never content to be bracketed to one musical area, Wood decided to supplement the Move’s pop work by launching the grandly-named Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), whose aim was to produce more experimental albums-orientated rock with a classical influence.

Wood survived as ELO’s frontman for only one single and album before a personality clash with fellow member Jeff Lynne prompted his departure in June 1972. He returned soon after with Wizzard, one of the most inventive and appealing pop groups of the early 70s. During this period, he also enjoyed a parallel solo career and although his two albums were uneven, they revealed his surplus creative energies as a multi-instrumentalist, engineer, producer and even sleeve designer. Back in the singles chart, Wood the soloist scored several UK hits including the majestic ‘Forever’, an inspired and affectionate tribute to Neil Sedaka and the Beach Boys, with the composer playing the part of an English Phil Spector. Wood’s eccentric ingenuity continued on various singles and b-sides, not least the confusing ‘Bengal Jig’, which fused bagpipes and sitar!.

By the late 70s, Wood was ploughing less commercial ground with the Wizzo Band, Rock Brigade and the Helicopters, while his former group ELO produced million-selling albums. The chart absence of Wood since 1975 remains one of pop’s great mysteries especially in view of his previous track record as producer, songwriter and brilliant manipulator of contrasting pop genres.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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