A friend just asked me: what does the “light” in Electric Light Orchestra refer to? Does it mean electric lights? Or a light orchestra, as in ‘light rock?’ I’d never thought of it that way before, but is ‘light orchestra’ a pun? Sort of like the “Electric Light Rock Band?”
According to this (uncited) site:
I always assumed that the “light” referred to the orchestra. A quick check of Wiki seems to support this.
In the late 1960s, Roy Wood—guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of The Move—had an idea to form a new band that would use violins, cellos, string basses, horns and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound, taking rock music in the direction to “pick up where The Beatles left off”.
Light orchestra being one missing some components of a regular concert orchestra. “Electric” should be self-explanatory.
As a longtime ELO fan, the cite that DCnDC has shared has always been my understanding, as well. Yes, it’s a play on words, combining “electric light” with “light orchestra.”
Also, while “soft rock” was apparently a known term (contrasted with “hard rock”) in the late 1960s / early 1970s, when ELO was founded, I’m not sure if “light rock” was widely used at that time. Performers like the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, and the Hollies apparently were among those who would have been classified as soft rock in that era.
Plus, if one listens to the songs from their first album, like 10538 Overture, they definitely weren’t “soft rock” at that point. As silenus notes, they were inspired by the experimental use of orchestral instruments by the Beatles, on songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and their sound on their first few albums (sort of psychedelic, sort of prog-rock) definitely reflects that.
Interesting. “Light orchestra” was not a common term for me growing up, so I guess the pun was lost on me.
I always thought, in those primitive days before the internet, that it was “Electric Light” Orchestra, not Electric “Light Orchestra”. Sort of steampunk before it existed.
ELO Kiddies, ELO kiddies
What ya gonna do when the light orchestra starts playing?
Now let’s talk about* The Alan Parson’s Project.*
First, no apostrophe. Second, isn’t he the guy who developed the laser at Cambridge?
That was Frank Zapper.
That’s “no apostrophe”, not “no, Apostrophe”.
This thread is going to be an Overnite Sensation.
Understandable since both of the first two albums featured pictures of lightbulbs.
Electric Light Infantry perform marches and martial music.
Electric Light Brunch does high tea music.
Traveling songs are done by Electric Light Rail.
Electric Lighthouse specializes in sea chanties.
You can hear harsh electronic music from Electric Light Industry.
Electric LightWeight plays teeny-bopper pop.
Bert & Ernie & Miss Piggy formed Electric Light Company, the *Sesame Street *house band.
Huh, I’d always assumed “light” meant effects in the stage act.
Many of the 70’s acts included pyro, smoke, lasers and other theater effects. Anything to sell tickets and entertain.
Interesting that ELO had a different meaning.
It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I got the pun in the name of the show The Electric Company - “company” as in a theatrical troupe. Double punnage for the name of the associated children’s group on the show, “Short Circus”.
Eventually, ELO certainly did – their tour to support their 1977 album “Out of the Blue” featured an enormous stage built to look like a flying saucer, and lots of lasers. But, that level of concert staging came about years after they had picked the name, and I’ve never seen anything to suggest that it was in any way the impetus for the name.