Discovery Tour


Electric Light Orchestra -- Discovery Tour

An in-depth look at the tour that never happened

Comments and Observations

In short, a tour in support of the 1979 Discovery album never happened.

It was the first album that ELO didn't tour to support. In fact, ELO never did any live performances at all, tour or TV, in support of it. Instead, they filmed a Shine A Little Love video at Musicland Studios and a special album music video for each song on the Discovery album (which proved to be the last appearance ever in ELO for cellists, Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale). As singles were lifted from the album, these videos were used to promote the album and singles, rather than a tour.

The big question is, why did ELO not tour in 1979? There is no definitive answer. Certainly Jeff Lynne himself has lamented on several occasions that he was getting tired of the touring grind and that he thought the spaceship on the Out Of The Blue was a bit over the top. ELO's use of strings as an integral part of the band was waning after Out Of The Blue so clearly Jeff was planning to take the band in a new direction and the lack of a Discovery tour is a sign of that. Also, while Discovery and its singles were in the charts, the band was busy creating songs for the Xanadu album. This may have been a contributing factor as well for a lack of a tour.

In August 1979, ELO were given the opportunity to be the headlining act at one-off concert at England's Knebworth music festival, playing before a crowd of 120,000. They turned it down and their fellow Birmingham band, Led Zeppelin, played the date instead. This was a missed opportunity and clearly Jeff Lynne was not interested in playing live concerts at this time. As it was, he married his second wife in August of 1979, so that probably had an impact on the decision as well.

ELO were at the pinnacle of their popularity at the time, just having come off of the very successful tour for Out Of The Blue and massive sales of the album. The Discovery album was a huge hit, spawning four hit singles, including their biggest hit ever in the USA, Don't Bring Me Down. Perhaps to some, Jeff Lynne included, this all proved that ELO didn't need to tour. Following this, ELO did not tour in support of Xanadu or Secret Messages and did less than five concert dates in support of Balance of Power. Only the Time album featured a full tour. The lack of a Discovery tour was the beginning of the end for Jeff Lynne's ELO playing live.

Whatever the ultimate reasons, the tour simply did not happen and it wasn't until 1981 that the band played live again.

This page is intended to be a complete record of information on the Electric Light Orchestra Discovery tour (or lack thereof). If you notice any errors or omissions, please contact me at and let me know. I strive for accuracy.

Robert Porter
August 2018