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Eccentric pop genius Ulysses Adrian "Roy" Wood developed the Electric Light Orchestra out of the Move, a truly great British band in an era of great British bands. However, because of a rift with Jeff Lynne, Wood left ELO after the debut No Answer and created Wizzard, a bizarre octet who debuted at a 1972 Wembley Rock & Roll Festival and then captured the airwaves with "Ball Park Incident." Wizzard landed two chart-toppers overseas, "See My Baby Jive" and "Angel Fingers." Chaotic but always melodic, Wood built a unique Wall of Sound around these and other dandies like "Rock and Roll Winter" and perennial winner "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day." Wizzard even jabbed the ascending ELO with "Bend Over Beethoven." In the center of this insanity, Wood sported a multi-colored beard and mane, added a star to his forehead, and covered his face (perhaps inspiring fan Paul Stanley) with warpaint, sprinkles, and innumerable other oddities. Wizzard seemed to maintain success only with singles, however, and the Introducing Eddie & the Falcons LP, a tribute to early rock icons like Del Shannon, Gene Vincent, and Cliff Richard, proved to be Wizzard's final work. Manager Don Arden enjoyed stadium success in the U.S., but Wizzard folded when management decided not to increase financing. Wood kept bassist Rick Price and saxophonist Mike Burney for the Wizzo Band, whose jazz-funk wafted beyond commercial confines for a lone effort, Super Active Wizzo. Wizzo expired in 1978. Wood continued his concurrent solo career and then basically dropped out of sight, reappearing periodically to perform with disciples Cheap Trick. Wizzard bassist Rick Price died on May 17, 2022 at the age of 77.
© Doug Stone /TiVo


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