Cellist Mike Edwards dies in accident

Former member of Electric Light Orchestra was 62

Cellist Mike Edwards, a former member of the orchestral rock band the Electric Light Orchestra, was killed in a freak Sept. 3 road accident in Devon, England. He was 62.

Edwards died after his van collided with a 1,300-pound hay bale that had rolled down a hill into the road, according to an Associated Press report.

In April 1972, London-born, classically trained Edwards, who had done session work with the progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest, joined ELO, a string-laden group founded by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne of the Birmingham, England, band the Move.

Wood had played the cellos heard on the group’s debut, but needed to recruit other string players to replicate the band’s sound onstage. Edwards made his bow at ELO’s live debut.

He appeared on four albums with the group, from “ELO II” (1973) through the top 20 U.S. breakthrough “Eldorado” (1974), which contained the No. 9 hit “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.”

In concert, the flamboyant Edwards had a showpiece, “The Dying Swan,” which climaxed with the pyrotechnic explosion of a custom-built prop cello. He would also leap off the PA speakers with his instrument.

“We couldn’t just sit there and play,” Edwards said in a 2009 interview. “We wanted to entertain,”

He later worked in a duo with dancer Avis von Herder for three years. A devotee of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, he issued an album inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” as Deva Pramada in 1992. (Christopher Morris)