Mike Edwards (musician)

Mike Edwards (musician)
Mike Edwards
Birth name Michael Edwards
Born 31 May 1948(1948-05-31)
Origin Ealing, London, England
Died 3 September 2010(2010-09-03) (aged 62)
Devon, England
Genres Rock music, Classical music
Occupations Musician
Instruments Cello, bass viol[1]
Labels Harvest Records, Jet Records
Associated acts Electric Light Orchestra
Website Musical career

Mike Edwards (31 May 1948 – 3 September 2010), known as Swami Deva Pramada or simply Pramada, was an English cellist and music teacher. His wide-ranging career was most widely notable for his membership of the Electric Light Orchestra.


Early life

Mike Edwards was born on 31 May 1948 in West London to Frank and Lillian Edwards. The family lived in South Ealing and he went to school at Grange Primary School. He passed the 11+ exams and went to Ealing Grammar School for Boys where he had an inspirational music teacher named John Railton who encouraged his love of music.

Mike’s father was an amateur cellist, but died when Mike was 14, leaving his mother to bring up Mike and his older brother on her own. He studied the piano with John Railton, and cello with Maryse Chome-Wilson. He played in the Ealing Youth Orchestra.

After school Mike got a job in the Midland Bank for a year during which he was able to decide that his career should be in music and he was able to pass the entrance audition to the Royal Academy of Music to study the cello with Douglas Cameron and the viola de gamba with Dennis Nesbitt. He gained a LRAM in cello teaching. As well as developing his musical skills, the academy broadened his musical experience, encouraged by tutors such as John Dankworth, who introduced him to playing jazz and big band music.[2][3]


Mike Edwards joined the Electric Light Orchestra in 1972 and he played with the band from their first live gig in Croydon until he departed, of his own choosing, in January 1975.[4] Previously he had had little interest in non-classical music, though he had played on recording sessions for Barclay James Harvest.[5]

Although his band-mates remembered him as a small, shy, broadly-smiling classicist in formal attire,[6] his eccentric 'cello playing (fingering the strings with an orange or grapefruit) and bizarre costumes were a major ingredient of early ELO concerts: his 'cello solo spots, often The Dying Swan or Bach's Air, ended with his instrument exploding in pyrotechnics (actually Edwards mimed on a rigged instrument).[6][7] He contributed to the albums ELO II, On the Third Day, The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach) and Eldorado. He was replaced by Melvyn Gale.

He changed his name to Pramada on becoming a sannyasin of Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh):[8] the name means "divine contentment". During the 80s he lived in the group's large Medina communes in Poona in India, Hamburg in Germany, Suffolk in UK and the US, and later in Vauxhall and Archway, North London. Subsequently he appeared for three years as a duo with dancer Avis von Herder. Their work and performances were based on improvisation and included the production of his composition Vampire Madonna at the Edinburgh Festival. In later years, his work involved stage plays, arrangements and cross-genre recordings such as the album "No goal but the path" by Terra Incognita. He has always been considered as a "musician's musician", and after moving to Devon, he produced and composed music for "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibrain with words spoken by actor Tim Brophy. He also composed and recorded music for poems by William Blake. Mike played cello and bass viol in groups of all musical genres and established a private cello and viol teaching practice. It was probably the freedom and joy that he experienced playing Baroque music that led to a workshop in Devon of the European String Teachers Association (of which he was SW region chairman) in 1999, which the violinist Margaret Faultless was invited to direct. As a result of this, the Devon Baroque orchestra was formed and Mike played in virtually every one of its 100 or so concerts in the ten years before his death. In addition to his playing with Devon Baroque he was in demand from many folk and jazz as well as classical groups in the area, some of which he helped to form including Sicilienne, L'Ardito, Ashburton Cello ensemble, Devon Early Music Group, Compagnie Giulia, Daughters of Elvin, Ta Filia and Presence.[9]


Edwards was killed on the A381 between Harbertonford and Halwell near where he lived in Totnes in Devon, on 3 September 2010, when a cylindrical hay bale weighing 600 kilograms (1,300 lb) rolled down a hillside and collided with the van he was driving.[4] As of September 2010, Devon and Cornwall Police and the Health and Safety Executive are investigating the cause of the accident.[10][11][12]

See also


  1. ^ "D of E biogs". Totnesearlymusic.org.uk. http://totnesearlymusic.org.uk/dofebiogs.html. Retrieved 2010-09-06. [dead link]
  2. ^ Biography written by David Edwards, published at funeral in September 2010.
  3. ^ BBC obituary, Last Words, Radio 4, September 2010
  4. ^ a b Whalley, Kirsty (15 September 2010). "ELO man dies". Croydon Guardian (Newsquest Media Group): p. 15. 
  5. ^ http://cherryblossomclinic.110mb.com/miked.html
  6. ^ a b Bev Bevan, BBC obituary, Last Words, Radio 4, September 2010
  7. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado Tour". Jefflynnesongs.com. http://www.jefflynnesongs.com/eldoradotour/. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  9. ^ Biography of Mike written by David Edwards and published at Mikes funeral, September 2010
  10. ^ Kate Loveys (2010-06-09). "ELO founding member Mike Edwards killed in freak runaway hay bale accident | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1309256/Electric-Light-Orchestra-founding-member-Mike-Edwards-killed-50-stone-hay-bale-freak-accident.html. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  11. ^ "ELO Cellist Killed By Runaway Giant Hay Bale - Yahoo! News UK". Uk.news.yahoo.com. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20100906/tod-elo-cellist-killed-by-runaway-giant-870a197.html. Retrieved 2010-09-06. [dead link]
  12. ^ "BBC News - ELO's Mike Edwards killed by hay bale in freak crash". Bbc.co.uk. 6 September 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-11195393. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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