Richard Tandy, Longtime ELO Keyboardist, Dies at 76

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Richard Tandy and Jeff Lynne performing “Mr. Blue Sky” at London’s Hyde Park in 2014

Richard Tandy, the celebrated keyboardist for the Electric Light Orchestra, who returned to perform years later with the band’s leader, Jeff Lynne, in an updated edition billed as Jeff Lynne’s ELO, died on May 1, 2024. The news was announced that day by Lynne on his social media platforms. Neither the cause of death nor location were revealed. Lynne called Tandy his “long-time collaborator and dear friend,” adding, “He was a remarkable musician… and I’ll cherish the lifetime of memories we had together.”

When the Electric Light Orchestra was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 after years of being eligible, Tandy, one of the band’s members selected to be honored, was not present at the ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Speculation was that he was ill but no statement was ever made.

Tandy’s ability to play various keyboard instruments—piano, Clavinet, harmonium, Wurlitzer electric piano and more—became an essential part of the group’s orchestral sound, that was also filled with all sorts of string instruments. The evolving lineup finally settled in during the band’s mid-’70s run with a string of top 5 albums and dozens of hit singles.

Born on March 26, 1948, in Birmingham, U.K., Tandy was a childhood friend of Bev Bevan who, with Lynne and Roy Wood, founded the Electric Light Orchestra as a spinoff of the Birmingham-based band the Move. Tandy briefly performed with the Move, playing harpsichord on their 1968 #1 U.K. single “Blackberry Way.” He returned to the fold when he joined the Electric Light Orchestra’s first live lineup as their bassist in 1972 and made his recording debut with the group on their second album, becoming their full-time keyboardist.

Richard Tandy, performing with Jeff Lynne’s ELO in London’s Hyde Park in 2014

Tandy continued in that role all the way through their 11th album in 1986, playing on such ELO classics as “Evil Woman,” “Strange Magic, “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Telephone Line” and “Turn to Stone.”

Watch Tandy perform his keyboard “magic” with the Electric Light Orchestra in 1976

Related: Bev Bevan sorts through the complicated way ELO got its start

This photo of the band receiving gold records for their previous album Face the Music appeared in the March 6, 1976, issue of Record World

Tandy became a significant tie back to the group’s musical heyday when he toured with Jeff Lynne’s ELO in 2015 and 2016, following their triumphant return to the stage in 2014 at London’s Hyde Park.

The extensive ELO catalog is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here. Lynne is returning to the stage in 2024 for his first tour in five years. Tickets are available here and here.

Greg Brodsky

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