• Article by: Casey Stohrer
  • Posted: 08/11/2012

There comes a time in many peoples' lives when things start taking a turn for the weird. More and more, as they start to gain experience in these foreign realms, they start to accept – and even appreciate – the wanton paths they have chosen, and things that would have been outlawed in a past life become fair game. I'm sure many of you reading this are adventurous enough. If so, imagine watching a large, bearded man (much like Hagrid from Harry Potter) with long, blue hair, plaid bellbottoms and a pink duster do some laid-back disco duck dancing with the aid of a French horn. His bass player, adorned in angel wings, might roller-skate around him in circles while a mullet-wearing Ringo look-alike plays a mean sax solo. If this sounds like a party you'd enjoy attending, you should check out Wizzard.

Wizzard was a ‘70s glam rock group started by Roy Wood. He was a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra until he started butting heads with Jeff Lynne. He took with him a few other members of ELO, as well as some members of his former band, The Move, to begin work on the magical sparkly vessel known as Wizzard. As with most other glam rock acts of the time, they wore elaborate costumes and makeup and had the musical chops to match. They scored a few hits on the UK singles charts with “Ballpark Incident” and “See My Baby Jive.” Their jangly girl-group sound is more akin to pop hits of the ‘60s than to the big arena rock anthems of the ‘70s.

Their stage show was playful and glittery. Sometimes the bongo player would juggle while some guy ran around in a gorilla costume. There would be creepy puppets, bald wigs and synchronized jazz hands choreography. There were many prosperous mustaches and wizard hats bobbing around while the bearded derelict Roy Wood played a vacuum cleaner. And he was damn good at playing that vacuum cleaner. The band members looked like a recovering orgy of My Little Ponies, which, in 1975, was a totally sexy look.

But alas, Wizzard became an increasingly expensive band, what with their many members, destructive live shows, and extensive recording sessions. Keyboardist Bill Hunt was known to repeatedly smash pianos belonging to the venues they were playing at. It was rumored that their recording session for the song “Angel Fingers” took longer than the session for Paul McCartney's entire Band On the Run album. A few tours in the U.S. and U.K. didn't pay the bills for the band members, so they eventually broke up.

Roy Wood had his weird phase, but his choosing a path of psychedelic righteousness is admirable. He later went on to produce albums for other bands, but it’s likely that Wizzard was the highlight of his career -- (literally). While his face paint and dainty finger-dancing might not be for everyone, there is much to be said about a man who ditches ELO to write a hit song with an invisible vacuum cleaner solo. 

Wizzard - "See My Baby Jive"

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