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.

Scott Munro
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Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.