The Early Days
Kelly's early years in his own words...
In the year of nineteen hundred and sixty, in the town of Coseley, in Staffordshire, England, a new and exciting thing was happening to a young boy of fifteen.
School photographs / © The Groucutt Family Album
This photo was taken by Gerald Hart who was "a most excellent teacher", during a school trip to Whitwick Manor (a stately home near Wolverhampton) / © The Groucutt Family Album
Kelly 1950's style
© The Groucutt Family Album
Kelly in the late1970's during his ELO days
Michael William Groucutt, having left school at the age of fourteen, two weeks previously, started his first job of work in a sheet metalwork factory.
Here, being in a very noisy environment, Michael sang along loudly to the latest pop hits that blasted out all day long from the radio which was fed round the factory on the loudspeaker system.
As fate would have it, one young co-worker, Graham Cartwright, the son of one of the owners of the business, having listened to Michael’s voice explained how some friends of his played guitar and drums and were starting a rock and roll group and needed a singer to join them, suggesting that he should “Give it a go”.
This Michael did and became “Rikki Storm” of “Rikki Storm and the Falcons”.
Kelly and his sister Pam on a day trip to Dudley Zoo...must have been the day Kelly was unleashed into the world.
© The Groucutt Family Album
Yes, I know it sounds pretentious, but that’s the sort of name rock, or to be correct, “Rhythm” groups had in those days. The young lad was me, and that was the start of what was to become a lifetime journey through music.
In fact, the two guitarists knew about three chords between them and the drummer had only half a kit of drums, but they were exciting times for each of us.
Whatever else occupied me at the time I fell by the wayside and I became completely engrossed in learning songs and practising with the band, which we did lots of.
That particular group didn’t last long, but it was a very important time for me.
I’m not sure how it came about, but I joined another bunch of young musicians and we became “Rikki Burns and the Vibras”. Yes “Rikki” again. I think I was a fan of Rudyard Kipling at the time. The Burns and Vibras bit came from the instruments the guitarists played… The Burns Vibra Artiste Delux.. Anybody remember them?
Name check time, because these guys are still friends, and I don’t want to get a kicking next time I see them… Terry Garvey, lead guitar… Les Willis, rhythm guitar… Jim Groucutt, bass guitar (no relation, as far as we know)… and Barry Fletcher, drums.
The beauty of being a singer in those days was that it was deemed that you couldn’t tax the voice too much. So I usually sang three songs and rested while the group played a couple of instrumentals… Oh, those where the days.