“Electric Moves of Roy the Wizzard”

“I’m not very good at reading music but I’m pretty quick at picking things up”. Roy Wood

Roy Wood (born 8 November 1946) is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

He was particularly successful in the 1960s and 1970s as member and co-founder of the Move, Electric Light Orchestra, and Wizzard.

As a songwriter, he contributed a number of hits to the repertoire of these bands.

“The first people I ever saw were probably Little Richard and Gene Vincent”. Roy Wood

Jet Harris, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and Sam Cooke 1962

THE MOVE

The Move, from Birmingham, England, were one of the leading British rock bands of the 1960s. They scored nine Top 20 UK singles in five years, but were among the most popular British bands not to find any real success in the United States.

Although bassist-vocalist Chris “Ace” Kefford was the original leader, for most of their career The Move was led by guitarist, singer and songwriter Roy Wood. He wrote all the group’s UK singles and, from 1968, also sang lead vocals on many songs, although Carl Wayne was the main lead singer up to 1970. Initially, the band had 4 main vocalists (Wayne, Wood, Trevor Burton and Kefford) who split the lead vocals on a number of their earlier songs.

The Move evolved from several mid-1960s Birmingham based groups, including Carl Wayne & the Vikings, the Nightriders and the Mayfair Set.
Their name referred to the move various members of these bands made to form the group. Besides Wood, The Move’s original five-piece roster in 1965 was drummer Bev Bevan, bassist Kefford, vocalist Carl Wayne and guitarist Trevor Burton. The final line-up of 1972 was the trio of Wood, Bevan and Jeff Lynne; together, they rode the group’s transition into the Electric Light Orchestra. Since 2007, Burton and Bevan have been performing as ‘The Move featuring Bev Bevan and Trevor Burton’.

The Move were formed in December 1965, and played their debut show at the Belfry, Wishaw on 23rd of January 1966. The original intentions of Burton, Kefford, and Wood were to start a group from among Birmingham’s best musicians — along similar lines to The Who. The three played together at jam sessions at Birmingham’s Cedar Club, and invited Wayne and Bevan to join their new group. After a debut at the Bell Hotel in Stourbridge and further bookings around the Birmingham area, Moody Blues manager Tony Secunda offered to manage them. At the time, the Move mainly played covers of American west coast groups such as The Byrds together with Motown and rock ‘n’ roll songs.

“When we were first started we were doing a lot of Motown stuff, but actually playing it more in a rock way. Everybody in the band sang and we did a lot of harmonies”. Roy Wood

Secunda got them a weekly residency at London’s Marquee Club in 1966, where they appeared dressed in gangster regalia. Their early career was marked by a series of publicity stunts, high-profile media events and outrageous stage antics masterminded by Secunda; they included Wayne taking an axe to television sets. Eventually, Secunda also managed to persuade Wood to begin writing songs for the band in his time off. They secured a production contract with independent record producer Denny Cordell, but that was turned into a media event by Secunda, who arranged for the band to sign their contracts on the back of Liz Wilson, a topless female model. Wood wrote their first single, “Night of Fear”, a No.2 hit in the UK Singles Chart in January 1967, which began The Move’s practice of musical quotation (in this case, the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky).

“Unfortunately, most of the songs that I write I don’t write them with guitar in mind. I just write it as a song and that was probably one of the ones that left an opening for it. The song’s all right, I wouldn’t choose to sing it now”. Roy Wood

Their second single, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”, was another major hit, reaching No.5 in the UK.

“The wind sort of swept up and the music was flying around in mid air and they were trying to play off it. You had to be there. It was quite funny”. Roy Wood

Their third single “Flowers in the Rain” was the first chart single played on BBC Radio 1 when it began broadcasting at 7am on 30 September 1967, introduced by Tony Blackburn. However it was not, as is generally claimed, the first record played on air that day—in fact Radio 1 opened with George Martin’s specially commissioned “Theme One”, followed by the theme of Blackburn’s Daily Disc Delivery show (“Beefeaters” by Johnny Dankworth).The single, which reached No.2 in the UK, was less guitar-oriented than their previous two singles, and featured a woodwind and string arrangement by Cordell’s assistant Tony Visconti.The track was released on the re-launched Regal Zonophone label.

“Well, obviously I wanted it to sound as original as possible. I suppose the influences that we had were probably from the actual power point of view we wanted to be like the Who. Vocally we wanted to be like the Beach Boys, whatever was good at the time”. Roy Wood


Studio albums

1968 Move **
Released: March 1968
Label: Regal Zonophone

1970 Shazam
Released: February 1970
Label: Regal Zonophone / A&M

Looking On
Released: December 1970
Label: Fly / Capitol

1971 Message from the Country
Released: 8 October 1971
Label: Harvest / Capitol

“To me, ‘Blackberry Way’ stands up as a song that could be sung in any era, really. We do it with the new doing all sort of fanfare things in it and it works really well. It goes down great with audiences”. Roy Wood

“The best thing I ever heard was in the ’60s. I heard Jimi Hendrix play ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ after a rehearsal, and it was brilliant”. Roy Wood

“We happened to be in the studio next door and I think Noel Redding came around and said, ‘Do you fancy having a sing on this?’ We just went and did it and it was great”. Roy Wood

ELO

Whilst the Move was still together, he founded, along with his band colleagues Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), which was later to gain major commercial success.

The original intention was split The Move at the end of 1970, but contractual obligations meant that they and ELO existed together for a year, but the former finally broke up in June 1972.

Jeff Lynne – piano, vocals
Roy Wood – guitar, flute, vocals
Richard Tendy – bass
Bill Hunt – piano
Bev Bevan – drums

WIZZARD

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ELO’s early live performances were chaotic, and after increasing tensions, Wood left in July 1972 and formed a new group, Wizzard, which assembled cellists, brass players and a bigger rhythm section, with several drummers and percussionists.

Wizzard Albums
Brew – Released: March 1973 Label: EMI

Introducing Eddy and the Falcons – 1974
Label: Warner Bros.

Main Street Released: 2000 – Label: Edsel

ROY WOOD SOLO

Wood emulated the wall of sound production style of Phil Spector while successfully and affectionately pastiching the rock and roll style of the early 1960s. Meanwhile, he released several solo albums, exploring further musical directions.

His 1973 album Boulders was an almost entirely genuine solo effort, right down to the sleeve artwork, with Wood playing a wide variety of musical instruments.

A second solo album, Mustard, released in 1975, included contributions by Phil Everly and Annie Haslam, was less successful.

Roy Wood Solo Albums:

Boulders (1973) – UK No. 15; US Billboard 200 No. 176
Mustard (1975)
Super Active Wizzo (1977)
On The Road Again (1979) – not released in the UK
Starting Up (1987)

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