Singer/songwriter Parthenon Huxley has gone from being a quirky post-new wave D.I.Y. rocker to being for all intents and purposes Jeff Lynne's replacement in the somewhat dubious Electric Light Orchestra Part II, with a stop in between as leader of the power pop trio P. Hux. Throughout, his quirkily intelligent lyrical sense and inventive melodies have earned him a devoted cult following, as well as a hard-to-shake "American Andy Partridge" tag.
Parthenon Huxley was born with the decidedly less-memorable name Rick Miller; Parthenon comes from his interest in ancient Greek history -- Miller had lived in Greece for a time as a child -- and Huxley from British writer/philosopher Aldous. The North Carolina native's first combo was the Blazers, Chapel Hill power poppers whose sole album, How to Rock, came out on Moonlight Records in 1980 (not to be confused with the '90s Latino rock band from L.A.). After the Blazers' dissolution, Huxley recorded a 1982 single, "Buddha Buddha," under the name Rick Rock that was a regional indie smash. (That and two other tracks eventually landed on the well-regarded North Carolina scene comps Mondo Montage and More Mondo on Dolphin Records in 1983 and 1984.) Huxley also spent some time touring as rhythm guitarist with Don Dixon (who had produced the Rick Rock tracks with Mitch Easter) and working at the legendary Cat's Cradle nightclub in Chapel Hill before moving to Los Angeles in 1987.
Huxley signed with Columbia Records and released his first album, Sunny Nights, in 1988. Although his songs were quite good, David Kahne's typically glossy late '80s production undercut their impact severely, and the album didn't sell despite strong reviews. Other than a couple of compilation appearances, Huxley laid low from 1989 until 1994, when his new song "Bazooka Joe" appeared on the second volume of the Yellow Pills power pop series. The following year, Huxley formed the power pop trio P. Hux with bassist Rob Miller and drummer Gordon Townshend. The trio's first album, Deluxe, was a big hit on the national power pop underground, but it would be over half a decade later before the follow-up, 2001's Purgatory Falls, would be released. An emotional song cycle inspired by the death of his wife, Purgatory Falls is Huxley's more direct and personal work. It was quickly followed by the solo acoustic Live in Your Living Room later in 2001.
In between the first and second P. Hux albums, Huxley and Townshend took over the Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan roles in Electric Light Orchestra Part II, a new band formed by ex-ELO members Louis Clark, Kelly Groucutt, and Mik Kaminski that shortened its name to Orchestra when Lynne reasserted his control over the Electric Light Orchestra name. He also revisited ELO with the 2005 solo album Homemade Spaceship: The Music of ELO. Huxley has also co-produced the two pre-Eels solo albums by E, 1992's A Man Called E and 1994's Broken Toy Shop, as well as two albums by power pop singer Kyle Vincent. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi