The Moody Blues Biography

The lengthy career of the Moody Blues has come in two distinct phases. The first from 1964-67, when they were a tough R&B-influenced unit, and the second from 1967 to the present, where they are now regarded as rock dinosaurs performing a blend of melodic pop utilizing symphonic themes which has been given many labels, among them pomp-rock, classical-rock and art-rock.

The original band was formed in 1964 by Denny Laine (Brian Arthur Hines, 29 October 1944, Jersey, Channel Islands; vocals/harmonica/guitar), Mike Pinder (b. Michael Thomas Pinder, 27 December 1941, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; piano/keyboards), Ray Thomas (b. 29 December 1941, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire England; flute/vocals/harmonica), Graeme Edge (b. Graeme Charles Edge, 30 March 1941, Rochester, Staffordshire, England; drums), and Clint Warwick (b. Albert Clinton Eccles, 25 June 1940, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, d. 15 May 2004, Birmingham, West Midlands, England; bass). During their formative months they established a strong London club following, and soon received their big break, as so many others did, performing live on the influential UK television show Ready, Steady, Go! Newly signed to Decca Records, a few months later their cover version of Bessie Banks’ ‘Go Now!’ topped the UK charts, complete with its striking piano introduction and solo. Although the single made the US Top 10, their commercial fortunes were on an immediate decline, although following releases were impeccable. Their excellent debut The Magnificent Moodies was a mature effort combining traditional white R&B standards with originals. In addition to ‘Go Now’ they tackled James Brown’s ‘I’ll Go Crazy’ and delivered a frenetic version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Bye Bye Bird’. Laine and Pinder contributed among others ‘Stop’ and ‘Let Me Go’. Further singles were released but both ‘Everyday’ and ‘Boulevard De La Madelaine’ were excellent songs but for some reason they both failed to become major hits.

Warwick and Laine departed in November 1966 to be replaced by Justin Hayward (b. David Justin Hayward, 14 October 1946, Swindon, Wiltshire, England; guitar/vocals) and John Lodge (b. John Charles Lodge, 20 July 1943, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; bass). Their popularity was definitely on the slide when they signed to Deram Records, Decca’s newly-formed progressive outlet. Phase two began with the December 1967 release of Hayward’s ‘Nights In White Satin’, which returned the band to the UK Top 20. (The song has subsequently enjoyed a profitable history, reaching US number 2 in 1972, while further reissues entered the UK Top 10 in 1973 and the Top 20 in 1979). The accompanying Days Of Future Passed was an ambitious orchestral project with Peter Knight conducting the London Festival Orchestra and Tony Clarke producing. The album was a massive success and started a run that continued through a further five albums with Knight and Clark (On The Threshold Of A Dream, A Question Of Balance, and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour were all UK chart-toppers). The increased use of the mellotron gave an orchestrated feel to much of their work, and while they became phenomenally popular, they also received a great deal of criticism. They enjoyed their greatest success with the single ‘Question’, which reached UK number 2 in May 1970. During this period they also founded their own record label, Threshold Records, which was based in Cobham, Surrey.

Following the US chart-topping Seventh Sojourn, the band parted company in 1974 to allow each member to indulge in spin-off projects. Hayward and Lodge became the Blue Jays, enjoying great success with the ‘Blue Guitar’ single. Thomas (From Mighty Oaks and Hopes Wishes & Dreams), Lodge (Natural Avenue), and Pinder (The Promise) released solo albums, while Edge teamed with Adrian Gurvitz for Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom. The band reunited for 1978’s Octave, which became another huge hit, although shortly after its release Pinder decided to leave the music business. Further discontent ensued when producer Tony Clarke resigned. Patrick Moraz (b. 24 June 1948, Villars-Ste-Croix, Morges, Switzerland) from Yes joined the band as Hayward’s solo single ‘Forever Autumn’ hit the UK Top 10 during the summer. This track was taken from Jeff Wayne’s epic concept album, The War Of The Worlds. The Moody Blues’ new studio album, 1981’s Long Distance Voyager, was both an artistic and commercial success, topping the American album chart for three weeks. The band enjoyed another commercial renaissance in 1986, when ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ and the attendant The Other Side Of Life both reached the US Top 10.

Moraz left the band in 1990, prior to the recording of Keys Of The Kingdom. Lodge, Hayward, Edge and Thomas soldiered on throughout the ensuing decade and marched on into the new millennium, although the latter decided to call it quits after the band completed their 2002 tour. The remaining members retain the comforting knowledge that they have the ability to fill concert halls anywhere in the world and possess a back catalogue that will sell and sell, at least until the days of future have passed.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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