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Still Hooked On Classics

By Brentwood Gazette  |  Posted: May 23, 2012

STILL HOOKED: Louis Clark (left) with Andy Smith of the English Pops Orchestra

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HOOKED On Classics is one of the most successful album series of all time, stacking up more than 13 million units sold worldwide.

Now Hooked On Classics is back with a new live production that's coming to Southend's Cliff Pavilion this Friday, May 25.

Conducting the English Pops Orchestra at the concert will be Louis Clark, former arranger for Electric Light Orchestra who's returned to Britain from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, especially for the Hooked On Classic tour.

The first Hooked On Classics album came out in 1981, combining much loved classical music with pop beats.

This sound was dubbed symphonic rock or orchestrated rock and was instantly successful, giving Louis a number one single in the UK and a number one album in the USA. Indeed, the first Hooked On Classic albums was a top 10 hit around the world and earned gold and platinum discs in 27 countries.

Louis had studied music at Leeds University and was fortunate enough to meet Jeff Lyne of ELO, who he knew from growing up in Birmingham, while he was at a recording studio.

"He was impressed by what I was doing arranging an orchestra and choir in the studio and asked me to work on ELO's El Dorado album. They were starting to get well known by then and I got involved with most of the album.

"It was fun working with the band and I ended up touring with them too."

Louis says this was his "calling card" and it got him lots more work and eventually lead to him putting together the Hooked On Classics albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

"It just took off, it was so surprising," says Louis. " First of all, people thought it was a novelty but (Radio 1 DJ) Mike Read played it to death and everyone picked up on it. And then it got picked up in the USA and it went huge there as well."

Louis only did three albums in the original Hooked On Classics series but when Essex musician Andy Smith asked Louis to be president of his English Pops Orchestra and revive Hooked On Classics as a live show, he jumped at the chance.

"I was keen on the idea but thought Hooked On Classics was dead and buried. But when we did our first concert, it bought all the memories back, it was great."

Now Louis is enjoying the success of Hooked On Classics a second time round and says it'll be nice to revisit the Cliffs Pavilion where he last performed in the 1980s and 1990s.

"It's just great to be involved again. People seem to love it just as much as they used to.""

Hooked On Classics with Louis Clark and the English Pops Orchestra is at the Cliffs Pavilion on Friday, May 25. Tickets on 01702 351135 or by visiting www.southendtheatres.org.uk

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