Former ELO cellist Hugh McDowell dead at 65

(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns - Getty)

Cellist Hugh McDowell, who was best known for his work with ELO and Wizzard throughout the 70s, has died at the age of 65.

McDowell also worked with Wetton/Downes on their Icon albums, with Geoff Downes confirming the news of the musician's death on Twitter.

The Yes keyboardist says: “Very sad news to hear that good friend and super cellist, Hugh McDowell has passed away. 

“Apart from his legendary ELO contributions, he was an integral part of all of our Wetton/Downes Icon albums. A great musician and gentleman sadly missed. Thank you Hugh.”

Producer Rob Aubrey also paid tribute to McDowell, saying: “Sad to hear of the death of Hugh McDowell. I recorded him a number of times for John Wetton and Geoff Downes.

“Always fun and a great ear for a cool part… in awe of his tales of life on the road and in the air with ELO. RIP sir.”

McDowell joined the ELO lineup in 1972 but later left the band to hook up with Roy Wood and Bill Hunt in Wizzard. But after a short stint, he returned to ELO in 1973 to replace Colin Walker.

He appeared on ELO’s Discovery music video in 1979, but did not appear on the studio album. 

Along with his work with ELO and Wetton/Downes, McDowell played cello on Asia tracks I Will Remember You and An Extraordinary Life from the 2008 album Phoenix and also recorded with Saint Etienne and Simon Apple among others.

No official cause of death has been announced.

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