One of the best at fusing classical-style music and rock was Louis Clark who I’ve featured many times on my blog. Clark died this week of a stroke at the age of 73.
Clark became partners with Jeff Lynne, the leader of the rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) when Clark was in London, working on string arrangements for a musical about William Shakespeare. Lynne heard it, liked it, and asked Clark to arrange and conduct the orchestra and choir for what would become ELO’s 1974 album Eldorado that reached #16 in the US charts. Clark worked on the group’s next five albums that sold well all over the world.
On the Midnight Special ELO performs The El Dorado Suite and their hit single “I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head.” (NOTE: Following ELO this embedded video also includes singer Janis Ian. Her segment that I was unable to edit is unrelated to tonight’s post.)
After his years with ELO Clark was recruited by Don Reedman at K-Tel records who had an idea. Put classical themes together over a rock beat. Clark created the original Hooked on Classics album and single. The album went to #4 and the single peaked at #10 on the US charts. Multiple follow-ups were recorded.
“It appears that it has introduced a lot of people to the classics,” Clark said in 2000. “People come away and say ‘this is different, it’s OK, it’s not as stuffy as I thought’.”