Monday, September 6, 2010

ELO's Mike Edwards killed by hay bale in freak crash

An early member of 1970s British rock group ELO (Electric Light Ochestra) was killed in a "freak" accident when his van was crushed by a bale of hay, police said.

Cellist Mike Edwards, 62, died after the 94-stone (600kg) bale careered down the side of a steep Devon field before it smashed through a hedge and on to the road.

Mr Edwards was identified using photos and YouTube footage. He was with the Birmingham band from 1972 to 1975.

The musician, who lived in Totnes, was a founder member of the classical Devon Baroque orchestra.

Friend 'devastated'

"He was simply the nicest guy and a brilliant musician," Angus Gordon, the chairman of Devon Baroque, told BBC News.

"He was capable of turning his hand to any type of music at all," Mr Gordon said.

"He taught the cello and his incredible patience and encouragement - even with the slowest of students - made him a very good teacher.

"I'm devastated. He was a really likeable person and such good fun that I keep thinking this has been a horrible mistake."

Mr Edwards was due to play with the medieval folk band Daughters of Elvin on Saturday evening.

Officers believe he swerved into another vehicle as his van was struck by the bale at about 1230 BST.

The other driver was not hurt.

Initially police had difficulty in tracking down Mr Edwards' relatives but a spokesman said officers had now traced his brother David in Yorkshire.

Sgt Steve Walker, of Devon and Cornwall police traffic unit, described the crash as "a tragic accident".

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating what has been described as a "farm accident".

'Sadly missed'

ELO was formed as the Electric Light Orchestra in 1971 by Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood.

The band, who played rock and pop music with classical overtones, sold more than 50 million records worldwide and had numerous hit singles and albums in the UK and the US.

Mr Edwards was in the line-up for ELO's first live concert.

A tribute on the Face the Music website said: "Mike quickly became a crowd favourite with his exploding cello and rather unique solo party piece that involved playing the cello with a grapefruit."

Mr Edwards' friend and Devon Baroque colleague Jasper Solomon, who also lives in Totnes, said: "Mike's talent was his musicality - he could range over all genres from classical to jazz, modern to medieval renaissance.

"He lived for his music and it showed."

Barry Eva (Storyheart)
Author of "Across the Pond"

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