Richard Tandy, Electric Light Orchestra Keyboardist of 50 Years, Dies at 76

“He was a remarkable musician & friend,” the band’s founder founder Jeff Lynne says Wednesday

Richard Tandy with ELO in 1978
Richard Tandy with ELO in 1978 (Pete Still via Getty Images)

Richard Tandy, the longtime keyboardist for the rock group ELO, died Wednesday of undisclosed causes, ELO founder and lead songwriter Jeff Lynne announced. He was 76.

Lynne wrote, “It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of my long-time collaborator and dear friend Richard Tandy. He was a remarkable musician & friend and I’ll cherish the lifetime of memories we had together. Sending all my love to Sheila & the Tandy family.”

Tandy performed with the group for five decades. He joined the group in 1973 after the release of their first album. Though he was originally ELO’s bassist during the band’s first live tour, he soon became the group’s full-time keyboardist.

He shared one of his favorite ELO memories in a 1999 interview with the fanzine “King of the Universe.” He said, “There was a time in Paris once, when we all piled into the limousines outside the hotel and asked the driver to take us to the gig, and to our suprise he said (no (or non). There followed a heated discussion, and some of us knew a bit of French – like ‘allez’ and ‘on y va’ but the driver refused to budge, so you can imagine the situation – an intractable French driver with three young big-heads in the back. Anyway, as it turned out they were not our limousines, ours were around the corner. Excusez-moi!”

In addition to his playing, Tandy is also known for singing the heavily vocordered lyric “Mr. Blue Sky” in the band’s 1977 song of the same name. (Lynne sang the primary vocals.)

Tandy also said he was invited to join the group by Roy Wood, who “invited me round to hear some tracks and offered me the job” after having played bass with the group after Trevor Burton became sick. He left ELO after Burton came back, but rejoined in 1973.

Tandy was born on March 26, 1948 in Birmingham, England.


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