INTERVIEW: ELO violinist Mik Kaminski talks about their Worthing gig

ELO'S Mr Blue Sky is one of those tracks you hear everywhere, whether it's on TV ads, film soundtracks or sampled by bands.

The track reached number six in the UK charts for one of the most successful groups of the 1970s and 1980s.

ELO spent a staggering 225 weeks in the singles charts and 393 weeks in the album charts, worldwide sales were in excess of 100million records, in the UK they had 27 top 20 hits and 11 top 10 albums, including two number ones – Discovery and Time.

Now you can hear them live once again, as three of the orginal band are joined by three members of ELO Part II to play Worthing as The Orchestra.

Violist Mik Kaminski is one of the original band and said Worthing was part of an extension of a 26-date tour earlier in the year.

"The first part went really well," he said. "We went from Scotland to Portsmouth. When we toured two years ago, that went well, too. People want us to come back."

There's everything you would expect in the show line-up. "Very few of the hits don't get an airing," said Mik.

"It's always nice to see an ad with our songs in it. That keeps the band fresh in people's memories.

Mixed audience

"They sound as fresh as when they came out, which is something considering the technical capabilities in those days compared to what's available now."

And their songs being heard by young people has led to a mixed audience for the band. "There are young people in the front row now. It's partly down to the songs still being used and also because their parents have been listening to us and they have picked up on it. It's intresting to see the wide range of people."

Joining Mik on stage will be original ELO hit-makers Louis Clark and Kelly Groucutt and, from ELP Part II, founding member Eric Troyer, Phil Bates and Gordon Townsend.

After the tour, Mik and Paul Bates are doing some semi-accoustic gigs before The Orchestra head off for eight shows in Poland and Russia.

Mik started playing violin aged about five. His grandmother was a music teacher – piano and singing – and her friend was a violin teacher.

He made his first professional performance with the Leeds Orchestra, aged 14, and went to the Leeds School of Music, where he founded the band Cow.

"I started off classical but the college ran a jazz course and I started to mix with people in the jazz set," said Mik. "That's how the electric violin first came to my mind."

Clasically trained

After playing violin on the Joe Soap, of Tennet Morrison, album Keep it Clean and Andy Roberts' Andy Roberts and the Grand Stampede album, Mik was playing shows and clubs in London in 1973 when he saw an ad in Melody Maker.

Wanted was a professional, classically trained violinist. "I thought I would give it a shot and after two or three interviews I was offered the job with ELO," he said.

"All of a sudden I was on my first ever fllight – to America. I didn't even have a passport."

Highlights of his time with the band included the spaceship they dragged round the world for their tours.

"It was amazing at the outdoor gigs in LA," he said. "There was a helicopter coming over and people jumped out and tried to attack the spaceship. There were lazers shooting out of the sky and people saying there were UFOs."

During his time with ELO, MIk founded sideline group Violinski with his friends from Cow in 1977.

Jeff Lynne had no plans for ELO after their 1986 tour, so Mik joine Kelly Groucutt's new project Player.

They both wanted to keep the ELO music alive and so founded OrKestra, which toured from 1987 to 1989 and made two albums.

When Bev Bevan called our for former ELO members for his ELO Part II, Mik played violin on album track Heartbreaker and became a member of the live group and became a permanent member, disbanding OrKestra.

Bevan retired in 1999, selling his share of the ELO name to Jeff Lynne, and the rest of the band became The Orchestra.

Hear them at Worthing's Assembly Hall on October 20 at 8pm. Tickets are 25 or 27.50 from the box office on 01903 206206 or go to www.worthingtheatres.co.uk

-------------------------------------

Click here to go back to leisure.

Where are you? Add your pin to the Herald's international readers' map by clicking here.

Email the Herald: letters@worthingherald.co.uk