THE MIKE EDWARDS INTERVIEW

By Martin Kinch

15th August 2009

Martin Kinch with Mike Edwards

Martin Kinch: Well here we are then Mike, thanks a lot for seeing me. And it's nice to meet you after all this time.

Mike Edwards: Really nice to meet you

Martin: As you know I've been trying to…

Mike: Yes. Track me down

Martin: It's good of you to do this, because you're a bit of a recluse and you've actually turned down lots of requests to do interviews and things like this haven't you?

Mike: It's not really that I'm a recluse, it's just that, you know, it's just so long ago. It's like now 33 years since I left the band and it's another lifetime and I don't really have much… You know, it's only when people like yourself come and talk to me about it… you know, that I get reminded of it.

Martin: Right.

Mike: But I've moved on and different things have happened to my life.

Martin: They certainly have yeah and we'll talk about that in a bit, but... I only really got to know of you when you were in ELO. But for those that might be interested, myself included, tell us about your childhood and how you got into the music business.

Mike: OK.... I was born in Ealing in London, West London. And I had a few influential people in my life…musically.

The cello was always… There was "a cello", that was destined to be mine because it was at my home. And it was sitting in our front room, on a kind of a shelf above the fireplace. And it was just sitting there forever. And my Father had played it, but he didn't, … I never heard him play it. But it wasn't until I was 12 that I was, er..… large enough . (laughs) 'Cos I'm quite small, I'm actually only 5 foot 4 you know, so I'm quite small in stature you know so it took me 'til 12. Nowadays if you play… start playing the cello, they have 16th size cellos…

Martin: Ah right!

Mike:…or quarter size or 8th size. So you get 3 year olds, 3 or 4 year olds getting dinky little cellos!

Martin: Right

Mike: But it's only in the last sort of 25 years that that's been - or 20 years really - that, that's been happening. Anyway, getting off the subject!

So, at my school there was a very influential teacher, … who in fact… later in life moved to Devon separately from me. And we ended up living in one town which is close to where I live now. And we were just 300 yards apart from where we were living, you know. And it was very nice to meet him and do some playing with him and things with him. He was my music master at school and he also took the Choir in school and he ran the local Youth Orchestra and so those things I got involved with. And I was very lucky in the school, I was in the choir and I got to do some wonderful things. I sang in a choir with Benjamin Britten.

Martin: Really

Mike: Yeah. And I sang in a very prestigious um, St Matthew Passion by Bach in the centre of town. And I was in a couple of Operas on television. . And its very strange to look back at that and see that there was all these things that just happened. They were just, you know, I didn't have to do anything, they just happened along.

And I then I started the cello. And my first cello teacher was a viola player. And, you know, anybody who's a string player would know that, you can't teach the cello by being a viola player you know. So I had a bad start. But it got better because I found a really really good teacher. And she really helped me. Cello was one of the mainstays of my life, and that has really stayed with me after all this time.

In fact, just a little story, the first cello I had. It was actually sold.... I wanted to get a better cello. Even though I really enjoyed this cello. I wanted to get a better one when I was studying. I went to the Royal Academy of Music in 1968. And I wanted to get a better cello. And I did get one. The prices - its incredible, you know. Nowadays you wouldn't think that you'd get a cello. I paid £125 for my cello .You know that's incredible. That cello would be worth 5 thousand, 6 thousand, 7 thousand pounds now.

Anyway, I digress. But... er. Where was I? (laughs) Oh yes, I was just telling you about this cello. This very cello.…. My first cello. Was bought by the wife of this teacher I was telling you about. And she had the cello and she was living 300 yards away. And then later she moved to Canada, and she didn't want to take the cello with her. So she came to me and said, "Oh, find a home for this cello". And it was my very first cello that sort of came back, to me, you know. So a very strange sort of event, really.

Martin: And, have you only ever played the cello or do you play other instruments as well?

Mike: I do play the bass viol or viola da gamba. And I also play, you know, it's a family of instruments like the cellos. It's held between the legs. It's got frets on and its got a flat back. Its used for early, early music. And I sort of play the treble viol. And I play the piano a bit.

Martin: Were you interested in pop music at all ? cause what you're talking about it all sounds very classical.
Were you into The Beatles and all that?

Mike: No, I was very straight. Before I joined ELO I had two albums, Aftermath and Revolution, The Beatles and Stones - I was dreadfully straight in those days (laughs) I was just in that classical music tradition. It was a bit of a shock to join ELO actually.

Martin: So did they / Jeff Lynne come looking for you or did you go looking for them -
How did it all come about ?

Mike: Um, As far as I understand Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne and a few other guys had done the first album and then they advertised in Melody Maker or something for Cellist because Roy Wood couldn't do everything, he done everything on the album but in the live performance he couldn't do everything so they had to get the whole thing together by putting an ad in Melody Maker and the people that came weren't quite up to the standard that they wanted, they realised after a couple of months that it wouldn't be good enough. So they were searching for Cellists .. so they changed the personnel, you know they hadn't done any concerts but there were people getting involved and Wilf Gibson came in on violin and I think he motivated them into looking for people, and so there's a grapevine in the classical world, you know that you phone one person and phone another person and that's how the word was spread. I'd heard about it vaguely because I'd met Hugh McDowell somewhere and he'd mentioned it - I don't know why it intrigued me but one day I got a phone call and this person with a very strong Birmingham accent said "Would you like to join The Electric Light Orchestra" and my first thought was that it was an Orchestra with a light show !

I had done something the year before, There was a band and they used an Orchestra ... Barclay James Harvest, they'd done something... I played with them in a few orchestral sessions / concerts / performances

Martin: I didn't know that

Mike: You know everybody goes through their own things in life, and I'd met this beautiful girl in the summer before this. This was in about February / March of 1972 and the year before I'd met this beautiful girl and fallen in love, she came from Yugoslavia which is something different now, and... anyway, she wasn't writing back to me so I got quite depressed and so there was this opportunity came with ELO to do something completely different, and somehow..... There are times when ones life just changes and this was a pivotal moment for me - I have no regrets ...But I would have carried on very much down the classical route you know there wasn't a great interest in pop music or anything ...As I say I had those two albums (laughs)

So then somehow I went and met them and we just talked and I played to them and they thought I was OK you know and that was it and then they said "Yes, come for a full band rehearsal" and then it was going up to Birmingham with Wilf
and a few other people, I don't think Colin was there, Oh and Hugh was there to begin with. Actually we had a spread of cellos to begin with I think there were 4 cellos with Roy Wood playing there was 4 cellos, but ... I don't know whether you've heard any of those early performances, the sound was a challenging thing to do sound wise for the band, for anybody to actually get a good sound out of the cellos without feedback and everything is quite difficult.

I think there were a lot of challenges that the band was faced with on that sound front and .. um...I personally think that's partly the reason why Roy Wood left, was that there was something really unsatisfying about the performances.

The Electric Light Orchestra - Queen Of The Hours
Granada TV - Set Of Six

Martin: So did you play their first gig, was it in Croydon

Mike: Yea I was at that yea

Martin: And is it true that there were more people in the band than there were watching it (laughs)

Mike: Well there were quite a lot in the band, but I think we did have a few more - I think there must have been about 70 people there

Martin: I love 10538 Overture, Do you remember playing that song

Mike: Yea I do yea, It's a great song, It's got a lot of what Roy Wood wanted out of ELO, which is that early Beatles stuff, it's got a lot of that influence there - It's gutsy playing - I did enjoy playing that

Martin: Rock and roll cellos !

Mike: Yes

Martin: Of course it was a Jeff Lynne song but it's got some Roy Wood touches in there as well

Mike: Definitely - Yep - Can I just say one thing ?

Martin: Yea, go on...

Mike: I think it's amazing how I meet other musicians who have had to work hard and they go out and they do things and they work for years to try and get ... and there I was, one of these people just like in my early days you know I just got given to sing in these Operas and this came along, it was just like ... bound to be successful, it was just bound to be successful, somehow

Martin: It must have been pretty weird for you as well though

Mike: It was Yea

Martin: Soon after (the first album) Roy Wood left, I think he played on some of the tracks on the second album didn't he

Mike: Yes he did yea

Martin: And then Mike came in

Mike: Yes

Martin: Did that create a bit of an atmosphere in the band when Roy left - were you on a bit of a downer, or were you exited about the future or ....

Mike: Well there was this period of time where nobody was sure whether it was going to carry on or not, That's my recollection of the uncertainty of it ......... but then.... it was proposed that we did do that and we cut down the whole numbers of the band - but we still wanted the cello weight, I found my friend Colin who was studying - and he came in on cello, So we had a 7 piece band, and we also got some good advice about sound equipment and the sound got..... really quite professional stuff in and the sound improved, and that made a big difference, it was really possible then - and later we did get these massive great big amplifier units and the string players had their own set up so that you'd be blasting out on stage and they would feed that through to the mix.

There were times when Hugh was playing and he would go and turn it up a little bit and I'd go and turn it up (laughs) and we were getting louder and louder on stage, I'm sure guitarists do that but it was funny for cellists to do that.

Martin: So ELO 2 was your first album that you recorded on - and a nice long version of Roll Over Beethoven - Do you remember that

Mike: Defiantly

Martin: Were you able to put your own imput into certain tracks

Mike: Well. I think the success of that track was because Wilf Gibson did a really fabulous arrangement and he just used parts of Beethoven stuff - Not just the beginning but he used other bits from it like the middle 8 and that was great,
I felt that was a striking number. That sort of launched us I think.. having Roll Over Beethoven

The Electric Light Orchestra - Roll Over Beethoven
Midnight Special 1973

Martin: Would that be your favourite track on that album do you think ?

Mike: Yea .... Yea

Martin: From what you can remember of it......

Mike: (Laughs) Yea, was Ma Ma Ma Belle on there?

Martin: That was the next one, were gonna come on to that later

Mike: Oh right

Martin: I was just thinking you seem quite a relaxed quiet sort of shy guy and yet I've seen videos of you doing some crazy things on stage and on Top of the pops with funny hats and stuff - Didn't you used to play your cello with a half a grapefruit or an orange was it ?And somebody would set off an explosion - Did the cello used to blow up ?

Mike: Well I don't know, its part of the whole thing - I think we had to do something presentation wise, we had to kind of like involve ... We couldn't just sit there and play and as I was telling you earlier Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy wasn't very expressive on stage, He was a great keyboard player and Jeff Lynne had his sunglasses on and he sort of hid behind his sunglasses and Roy Wood was a bit if a shy guy and he could wear the glitter and do that you know, but we felt like the band wasn't going anywhere because we weren't entertaining.

So the string players sort of got together one day and had a chat amongst ourselves and decided that we'd do something to entertain a bit more (laughs) So Wilf got his cape and I came with my hats - I sort of had a succession of hats then.
I don't mind being a little bit bald on top, I don't know if I was trying to cover that up, but I think that the whole thing was that we wanted to entertain - we didn't want to just sit there.

So as things transpired I found myself doing more and more things, and if I did one thing one time in a performance inspirationally the other people in the band who didn't do very much came up to me and said "Mike that was great you must do that every night" (laughs) so I was a bit like trapped in a way because I was doing things and they wanted me to repeat things. And then somebody had this idea that we should have an exploding cello - it wasn't my idea at all you know, I didn't really fancy it but they had this thing built which was an exploding cello and it didn't actually play, and we had this thing where Hugh would be playing this piece and I would be miming to it on this exploding cello and then I'd have a button to press on the floor (laughs) I put my foot on this button and the whole thing would spark and then just fall apart - Then we'd put it back together for the next day. They spent all this money on this and you know, I had to do it (laughs) but you know it was just a bit of fun really. But I did find myself ... I suppose, you know.... being shy somewhere it was like you go on stage and sometimes you feel like you can release... you bring out another side of yourself .

There was another thing, sometimes when we did 'Great balls of fire' there was this massive speaker or something that was part of the stage equipment and I used to climb up on top of that as we did 'Great balls of fire' and when we got to the 'Stop' I'd jump off maybe 6 feet with my cello that I've just been playing to you - and that was part of the show as well.

Martin: A pretty tiring show then really

Mike: (laughs) And then we'd run around and we'd play each others instruments and sometimes I'd play Jeff's guitar

Martin: Yea, Didn't you come up in between his legs

Mike: I did yea (laughs) I didn't much like that though ...but yea, yea, that was all part of the fun really

Martin: Of course Mike De Albuquerque was in the band as well when Roy left, How did you get on with Mike

Mike: Very well ,Yes, he was good fun - We had three Michael's in the band, A seven piece band - Three Metals, actually later that was after Wilf left. So he was Michael and I was Mike and then Mik came and he was Mik (laughs)

Martin: So did you prefer recording or the touring side of it or didn't you mind either

Mike: It got very interesting, especially on 'On The Third Day' when I felt like we were working together to get something, you know I was very much involved in the arrangements and we were sitting down working things out with Jeff and it's a lovely process doing a recording and I really admire Jeff Lynne - just watching him work was brilliant, he's just a genius. He knew what sounds would work and he constructed the whole thing and got nearly all the music together and he got an idea for the ....obviously he knew the tune of the song and he's say "Oh lets go and work on these words a bit" and he went out for 5 minutes in the cupboard and he came back and he just .. well.. recorded the words and I've just got a lot of admiration for him - So it was lovely being involved in that process of recording

ELO - Ocean Breakup/King Of The Universe - Live 1973

Martin: It was a good album I must admit I do enjoy that , And you mentioned Ma Ma Ma Belle earlier on - Is that a favourite of yours

Mike: Yep, Absolutely, it's a real rocker isn't it - it's got the strings with it but there's some other things on it as well



The Electric Light Orchestra - Ma Ma Ma Belle
German TV 1974

Martin: What do you think about, like when you're having your photograph taken and someone asks you to lift your shirts up and show your belly button, How did you get on with that sort of thing

Mike: I thought it was amazing, I mean that was an amazing experience, I mean they obviously paid the photographer thousands of pounds to do the photograph, I think it was Richard Avedon who I looked him up and he's pretty famous and he just got some beautiful photographs, and that was like a little trick that he probably uses once in a while.
But we were all sizes in ELO and I think that was one of the things also that there was this 'shapes of people' and that was interesting to look at - but yea, it was fun doing it, it was real fun

Martin: It was that sort of time that Wilf left I think and Mik Kaminski came in, Was that a sad time for you or do you just take it ..... Is it like working in a factory and somebody leaves and somebody else comes along

Mike: It wasn't a very good time.... Wilf leaving - because it was just like .... to be candid about things... it was like you know, not everybody was on a share of the money though we were employed, the string players were employed, and then you start to see that quite a lot of money was being made and it wasn't being redirected in your way, And Wilf ..... you know being ... Wilf ... just wanted to .. you know.. talk about this ...and there was a bit of ... negativity built up as can happen with any group of people when there comes times when they don't always get on. So in a way Wilf was edged out of the whole thing and I didn't really particularly like that ... so ...you know... it wasn't that long after that that I left myself

Martin: You started work on an album called 'Eldorado' you played on some of that album didn't you

Mike: Yep, and I got a gold album, I got my gold album and that's terrific to have

ELO - Can´t Get It Out Of My Head Live 1974

Martin: And Jeff was bringing more of the orchestra in then wasn't he

Mike: Yea, I think things were changing and things were ..you know.. he wanted to move in a different direction .. and .. because I can see that he had a huge vision of what he wanted and this guy Louis Clark came along and did some fantastic arrangements but it was losing what I saw of those early days of ELO which is how I ..... the only way I can describe it is this thing you have in classical music is called 'chamber' music like when you have a small group of people and they are playing together..... and it was that we were all very independent parts and you could hear that on lots of on tour dates, but when it got later, when it got to Eldorado it was really this fantastic vision that Jeff had - this orchestral sound and it rather .. left the personnel in it behind. I mean after I left there was still the two cellos but they had all these other massive things that they had to play.. the trumpets and the wind players and they weren't played very much with it but yea it was ..

I mean I think Jeff Lynne and ELO did fantastic stuff after I left but it was a different sort, you know you could say that ELO did three stages, the very very early bit with Roy Wood and that second bit with Jeff Lynne and myself and Wilf, and then the third bit with the orchestral thing which developed and it was just hugely successful - I mean to this day you're listening to the radio and an ELO track comes on and from the very first note you go "Ah ELO" It's amazing, it's got a sound all of it's own

Eldorado came out and I did a tour of the States , Did four tours in the States actually which is quite a lot, it was good... good fun touring, but that last one I didn't really enjoy and we came to the end of the tour and then I split -
I had this idea I was gonna go off and be a postman

Martin: Well there's nothing wrong with that (laughs) Were you still doing the exploding cello at that stage

Mike: Yea, that was still part of it yea

Martin: And was that getting a bit tiring

Mike: It was getting a bit tiresome yea

Martin: Do you think the band were picking up that you were thinking of leaving or did you just drop the bombshell

Mike: I think they must.. I was a little bit withdrawn and Bev Bevan came in one day and saw me looking at my navel, Not 'actually' looking at my navel but that's the way he described it in his book (laughs) but anyway it was just not an easy time for me and It was best that I split and I went off and I started to do other things and I think I went on the dole actually

Martin: It was a big decision to leave a band that were becoming massive at that time and to go off and end up on the dole did you say

Mike: I think I was on the dole and I did busking, I went out busking, I did have a few... erm ..you know, I had my classical career going along before I joined ELO and then I sort of had this diversion into ELO and that taught me a lot of different things - I'm going to play you a little bit later on, I'm going to play you a few improvisations and you can see that I'm an improviser now and I don't think I'd have learnt that if I hadn't been with ELO

I came into ELO and there were three different types of players, there were players like Jeff Lynne who didn't read music they just played from what they knew and there were the players that could read that could also improvise as well like Wilf was pretty good at that and there were the players like myself that could read but didn't really know how to improvise so I was put on the spot there and I started to get the hang of it and as things developed I got the hang of improvising

Martin: When you were busking did it bother you that you might get recognised or did you hope maybe that you would and maybe they would put more money in the cap

Mike: As I say it's another life, you know you're in ELO and then you're out of ELO and then you're just in another life you know and it just goes on

Martin: It was known within the circle of fans that Mike Edwards had left the band and somebody had seen him busking so it wasn't a secret and certainly not now (laughs)

Mike: Oh right - I didn't know that - So I did busking and I started to play with different people, I formed a duo with a dancer - a fantastic dancer, and we worked together for three years and we did performances around the country and we went to Edinburgh festival, played there... and that was three years of that and then I got involved in a spiritual movement and I went to India to meet Osho or Baghram as his name was, I went to some exhibition somewhere and just heard his voice through some headphones they were at this stand, they were there and this amazing voice came over and it got really fascinating and I just felt 'Oh I just gotta go and meet this guy in India' so I got myself together and went out there and stayed 6 months out there and became a Sannyasin of his and had this name given to me which was Deva Pramada which means 'Divine Joy' and that was .. like ... that was another journey really being involved in that and I was very much involved there later, I'd spent 6 months there and then I came back for a while and then I was part of some of the communities that were developing, and lived in a commune, first of all there was a commune in Devon about 30 miles from where I am now which is a great place and there was another commune which was formed near Cambridge near Newmarket and that was amazing and there was up to 150 people there and I was involved there particularly because I was playing and there was a really super duper group of musicians playing in this chamber music type way - they were playing guitar and bass guitar and hand percussion and flute and violin and a little bit of keyboards, and that was what I wanted .. what I enjoyed out of ELO that kind of chamber music feel and working together to produce something and that taught me an awful lot.

I also went to America with that, and went to Germany, I lived in Germany for a while, and then later I was living in London doing some different music things but working, and then I decided to move to Devon and came to Devon, met some very interesting people down here and one of them wanted to do some recording and I fancied at that time doing a little bit of recording and I got some equipment together, rudimentary stuff, and I did this album with an actor, and we did this thing based upon the Prophets which has been mentioned somewhere on Youtube or Wikipedia or something and it was .. yea, it was OK it wasn't brilliant (laughs) it was just me doing something. So back in the early days before I actually joined ELO one of my main interests in classical music was kind of Baroque music - early music, and at that time I'd taken up the instrument called viola da gamba which I was telling you about - the bass viol. Nowadays all the colleges they all have teachers of that available, but at that time the early music movement was just beginning - and they didn't have a teacher for the viola da gamba at the Royal Academy of Music, they got me one in especially and I enjoyed that and also there was this beginning of the whole what I call Baroque music playing revolution going on there and I was involved in that at that time, but when ELO came along it just took me right away from it.

What happened was that I was doing some teaching and I was starting to get involved with The European String Teachers Association, I became the Chairman for that in this local area, so we organised an event for that which was a workshop on Baroque music and this woman called Margaret Faultless came to teach it, and it was like this big connection for me from where I was before I joined ELO some 25 years later - it was the same thing going on somehow, because a friend of mine was organising a charity event and she'd asked me to get the musicians together for it and I had done nothing about it at that time, and I knew it was coming up and we had this really interesting workshop with Margaret Faultness and I just had this thought, perhaps we could get a little orchestra together for this charity event.
I went and asked Margaret Faultness and her colleagues and she said Yes, so this new thing in my life was born which was Devon Baroque which is a fantastic professional band, a professional Baroque orchestra which is something really fantastic because playing Baroque music is just wonderful and actually I must show you my Baroque Cello before you go.

Martin: Oh right, I'd love to see that

Mike: At that time when Devon Baroque started I put myself right behind it by taking on the role of publicity and I designed the posters and done all the publicity for about 8 years I did that and in the last couple of years there were other people coming to help on - it was an immense job (laughs) and unpaid job which I got involved in - but my bonus was to be involved in a professional band and be involved and learn so much from some wonderful teachers, and at the same time I'm teaching myself, I've got a number of students, I'm really enjoying my teaching because just in the last year or so I'm really really trying to find my own...you know, you play for a long time - I've been playing now for .. it's unbelievable when you think about it ... 45 years, 48 years, something like that and you develop as a player and I'm still learning and still discovering and I've got some fantastic students that want to work with me and we come up with new things and discovering how to make beautiful sounds and natural sounds and that's what I like about playing with Devon Baroque, by learning Baroque music I feel like I've discovered a natural way of playing - It's fantastic

Martin: Well I look forward to hearing some of that in a minute - Have you still got the same cello that you played with ELO

Mike: Yes - It's the same one

Martin: Well Mike,It was nice to meet you, Thank you very much for your time and I hope you keep well and that you continue to enjoy your cello playing, Also good luck with Devon Baroque and everything else that you are involved with

Mike: Thanks Martin and it was nice to meet you too.

This interview is © Martin Kinch and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission

Transcribed by Martin Kinch and Jeff Cooper Thanks Jeff !

Martin Kinch with Mike Edwards - August 2009

 

The interview can also be seen on Youtube in 6 parts Here

Mike Edwards 2009 - Photo © Martin Kinch



Mike Edwards talks to Martin Kinch about his Baroque Cello
and plays The Prelude from the Second Suite by Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

Mike was killed in a tragic accident near his home in Devon on the 3rd of September 2010
I'll be forever grateful that he agreed to do this interview

R.I.P Mike

So sorry to hear the news about Mike. He played a big part in me getting the job with ELO.
He saw my name on a list of possible violinists, tracked me down to a gig I was doing
and advised me to learn some of the bands music. He even lent me an album to help me on my way !
We certainly shared some funny and bizarre moments in the early days of the band .......
Don't forget you orange Mike .......

Mik Kaminski

----

The news is just beginning to sink in and I'm shocked and saddened. What a character Mike was.
I used to think he was so uncynical and naive it made him very vulnerable. His input into the group was always
generous and I always remember him injecting a bit of humour into the stage shows if things were getting a bit pretentious. The strange thing about ELO. in its formative period. was that the classically trained members, Mike,
Colin and I thought we were gaining some street cred by joining a pop group. almost like being let off the leash.
The Move guys must have thought they were gaining some discipline by mixing with classically trained players,
but they were incapable of being on a leash. What a bizarre, mad lot we were. You couldn't say we were dysfunctional but, like inmates in a lunatic asylum, we had a strange, symbiotic effectiveness.

Wilf Gibson

----

Mike was hugely contributory to the success of ELO in USA.His balaclava and his wandering around
on stage,with the appearance of a survivor after an atomic blast...was very funny..and unique in Rock n Roll,
the audiences loved it. His cavortions on the shoulders of roadie Phil Copestake's shoulders,cello in hand,
that resulted in his crash into the low lying main ceiling timber beam..and the destruction of his precious
instrument were hilarious and tragic. So long Mike-happy memories!

Michael de Albuquerque

----

Sad news about Mike. He was always a friendly, funny character when we were at college together
and he often worked on the same gigs as me in our early days. I'm sure he enjoyed his time in the band
but I got the impression that he felt there was a lot more to life and he went off to find out. I never saw him again
but I hope his conversion to Budhism worked for him and he found what he was looking for - R.I.P

Melvyn Gale

----

I only knew Mike for a very short time in the formative days of the Roy Wood/Jeff Lynne invention
that was the Electric Light Orchestra. He always struck me as being very open and enthusiastic,
with a schoolboy-ish sense of humour. It said in the paper that he'd had an interest in Buddhism
and both medieval and traditional music. Well 2 out of 3 is good enough in my book
but what will he come back as?

Bill Hunt

----

"Mike Edwards was unlike your average balaclava wearing cellist in a rock group. He was a very good natured chap who mixed politeness and reserve with wild and wacky stage performances. Even though he left the group over 35
years ago I occasionally think about him on stage in his woolen balaclava playing his cello solo with an orange.
Now that was pretty original. Mike was a great cellist but most of all a real gentleman. The wild and strange middle bit
in 'Showdown' is actually Mike Edwards Double tracked over and over adding odd notes all the time. I love that bit."

Jeff Lynne

----

He was a lovely guy who was always smiling and he really enjoyed playing for the band. He was a fine cellist who
was extremely popular with the fans and he’ll be missed. We have not been in touch since he left the band in 1975
but I’ve lots of fond memories of our time on tour. Mike was a deep thinker and very shy when we first met
but he came out of his shell. It was a culture shock for him at first, playing in front of wild crowds,
but he soon got used to it. I just hope he got to fulfil everything he wanted to do in life.

Bev Bevan

----

Mike was a great person a really unique man, very caring and considerate of others.
A great musician who I can personally testify was of great importance to the early success of ELO
his ability, image and stage presence always drew acclaim from the press ,particularly in the States
his Dying Swan solo played with the use of an orange ,culminating in his cello exploding was always a highlight
of the live shows ( I am honoured to say that I helped Mike with the idea of the exploding cello )
his decision to leave the band was a big blow, (excuse the pun)
His contribution to ELO can not be under estimated

David Arden

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I was privileged to work with Mike in the early years of ELO. Many times I shared a room with him and
although it took desperate seconds to meet airport deadlines gathering up his trail of belongings around the
room the compensation was his warmth and fun. Free time at the 'Hyatt House' hotel ( Riot House), Sunset
Boulevard encouraged pranks from Mike. One such was coffee, cakes and crossword puzzles sitting in the chairs
in the roof top swimming pool, ( picture in Bev's ' the ELO story ' book). Most of the tables and chairs were
put in the pool. No wonder most of the other guests didn't venture up to the roof top pool when Groups were there.Mike had a warmth and genuineness that was sadly missed when he left ELO and again now that I
did not make contact with him in recent years.

Rick Pannell. - Sound Engineer 1973-1978

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I am a big fan of the early ELO Albums with the heavy Cello riffs & we need to pay tribute to Mike for these.
I'd advise anyone to listen to "On The Third Day" in it's entirety and listen specifically to the Cello bits.
And also "Eldorado" & "ELO II" Wonderful contribution. And I'm pleased we got an insight into his
pleasant character via Martin's interview. A sad loss.

Paul James Richardson

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You left your mark on a great many people. Thanks for the music, the exploding cello,
and those unforgettable "orange moments". We will always remember.

Michael Kriegsman

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So sorry Mike, you will be up there with Kelly starting ELO part 3, Make sure its a good sound as always
You will be missed, always loved the cello sound in ELO so lets hope the modern band orchestra on their next tour
bring back a cello into their set to remember you . Love Ya

Keith

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Martin, thank you SO MUCH for the link to this most magnificent tribute to our lovely Mike.
There is so much stuff I didn't know and hadn't found on YouTube, and I also didn't know (while I lived in Devon)
that Mike was a Buddhist…. But it explains a lot; I always felt his quiet and serene, very reflective and thinking
manner behind the smiling and lovely face! I do miss him so much…. I felt privileged beyond words to have him
as my cello teacher and my love to this instrument is forever linked to those lessons, ALWAYS with a mug of
tea next to us, always taking much longer than just the one hour I paid for, always erring to the left and right because there was so much to talk about on top of the music. He also – shortly before I left England to return to my native Switzerland – gave me some copies of 'how to play JS Bach's solo cello sonatas' – he copied bar after bar and
wrote for every bar how he felt he would like this to be played…. a work I don't think he would ever be able to complete and I also have no idea how far he got! I took those few sheets out only about two weeks ago
(a week before he died), I spoke to my husband about his ideas and I definitely wanted to contact him for a cup
of tea when I'd visit Devon next at the beginning of next year…

Then, on the eve of Mike's untimely death, two UK friends arrived for 4 days and we spoke long and lovingly
of his playing, they all knew his founder position of the Devon Baroque ensemble and we all heard him umpteen
times at the concerts, we bumped into each other at the Ciderhouse Press in Dartington – it's a very small and
intimate world in this blessed part of England….

And then the shock when another dear friend wrote to me about his death…. We pray for him every day and I
am sure that in NO TIME AT ALL he'll have founded the Angelic ELECTed LIGHT-filled ORCHESTRA….
maybe not with grapefruits and oranges but surely just as convincing as the ELO!
I am much looking forward to his performances :-)

Kiki - My tribute to Mike

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When I heard the Radio 4 news bulletin my heart froze....I know that name.I knew Mike between 1970 and 1971,
we had the same cello teacher at the RAM.He was lovely,loving,kind and so comfortable to be with..
he was just 3 inches taller than me.I remember the Orange Swan or the Swan with Orange but where or when has
all gone now.I remember the name Melvin Gale...I must have been in on some of those same gigs!

I was very young and very foolish,I left England and lost touch with everyone and everything there.
Six years ago my sister died totally unexpectedly and without warning,at about the same age,61 going on 62.
I know that pain and I know the void. My sincerest condolences to Mike's family in Yorkshire and all those friends, colleagues and pupils down in Devon. I am most profoundly sad to have both found Mike again and to have lost
him completely.Reading about his life I feel humbled...what a creative and spiritual life he has led.He was a LIGHT
in my life the short time I knew him,he was kind and affectionate and I thank him for that.

Angela Stevenson - Cellist

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I knew Mike as Pramada and worked with him during the early ‘80s, when he was living in Archway.
We had a baroque trio going for a couple of years, playing in the newly-regenerated Covent Garden Market.

One day Yehudi Menuhin stopped to listen to us and left a tenner in Pramada’s cello case. We were so elated by
this that we immediately resolved to go on a busking tour of the south of France. It was a horrible - but utterly memorable – experience. The third member of the group almost immediately got sunstroke, leaving Pramada and I
to do our best, improvising whatever we could on flute and cello. The result did not go down terribly well in either Cannes or St Tropez, leaving us - toward the end of the ‘tour’ - scrounging for discarded fruit in the market.
One of my enduring memories of Pramada is of his gentle resignation and unfailing good humour during those awful
days, and of him sleeping on the beach with his cello, looking as though they had been washed up from a shipwreck.

Kees Windland


 

If you would like to add a message in memory of Mike, please email Martin Kinch

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