Music doesn't get much more gorgeous than ELO's performance of Strange Magic on The Midnight Special

Jeff Lynne on The Midnight Special
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

Yet another classic performance from the archives of US music show The Midnight Special has arrived, this time in the shape of a beautiful 1976 performance of Strange Magic by the Electric Light Orchestra

The footage comes from a show broadcast on March 6, when the band were joined by host Helen Reddy and a lineup that included Frankie Avalon, The Miracles and Tanya Tucker. In addition to Strange Magic – from the band's fifth album, Face The Music, which had been released four months earlierELO also played Evil Woman and Nightrider on the show, with the latter clip making its way online last month. 

Jeff Lynne & Co. were regulars on the show by the time of the performance – with three previous appearances behind them – and ended up hosting it twice (in 1975 and 1977). They were also the subject of several special tributes. 

1976 was a big year for the band, as Face the Music became the second ELO album in a row to go gold, and Evil Woman brought the band top forty success to augment their long-established progressive and FM audience. Strange Magic would follow suit, hitting number 14 on the US chart as the band toured the Top 40 markets relentlessly, laying the groundwork for their breakthrough New World Record album.

"We’d got a different line-up together and started doing these American tours, which turned out amazingly well," Lynne told Classic Rock in 2019. "We seemed like such a strange group for an American audience, with two cellos, a violin, Mellotron and a bit of French horn. It was just an odd sound."

Watch ELO performing In The Hall Of The Mountain King with an exploding cello.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.