The Moody Blues - Biography
By J Poet
The Moody Blues started out as an R&B cover band. Denny Laine, Clint Warwick and Graeme Edge were in a band together when they split off to form the Moodys. John Lodge was to join when he finished college. The original band - Laine, Warwick, Edge, Mike Pindar and Ray Thomas scored a #1 hit with “Go Now” in 1965, a cover of a single by American singer Bessie Brooks. It was successful enough to get them a spot on the last Beatles tour of England. “We saw the life they led being that huge and we thought, that’s not for us,” Edge related in a 2006 interview. “We made a conscious decision to stay under the radar and never put our photos on an album. If we ever made another one, that is.”
After “Go Now” the band had trouble coming up with another hit.
Laine quit in 1966 and Justin Hayward and John Lodge were hired. After deciding to write in a pop/rock vein, the band left England and went to Mouscron in Belgium to write a stage show of original material. Mike Pindar got hold of a new invention, the Mellotron, that could reproduce orchestral sounds and the band made use of it when arranging their new material. Decca, the band’s label, wanted to cash in on the new format called stereo by recording the Moody’s with a symphony orchestra. They cut Days of Future Past (1967, PolyGram) in five days, two titles a day. The orchestra was done in one three hour session, all on a four-track tape machine.
Decca first marketed the record as a stereo demonstration disc, but when “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” raced up the charts, the Moodys were pop stars. In the next three years they cut four classic albums of richly orchestrated pop: In Search Of The Lost Chord (1968, PolyGram) On the Threshold of a Dream (1969, PolyGram), To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969, PolyGram), and Question of Balance (1970, PolyGram).
The band had trouble recreating the orchestrations of the album on stage, so for Every Good Boy Deserves Favor (1971, PolyGram) they pared everything down to parts the band could actually play in concert. The psychedelic Moody era closed with Seventh Sojourn (1972, PolyGram), an album with a sharp rock’n’roll edge. Soon after, Pindar moved to America and the band went on hiatus. During their ascent, the Moodys created their own record company, Threshold, still the trademark on many of their enterprises. Along with The Beatles’ Apple it was one of the first artist run logos.
The Moodys all put out solo albums, Blue Jays. (1975, PolyGram) by Hayward and Lodge being the most successful. In 1978, the band reformed with Patrick Moraz replacing Pindar, and cut Octave (1978, PolyGram), Long Distance Voyager (1981, PolyGram) and The Present (1983, PolyGram), all solid efforts with charting singles. Then in 1986, The Other Side Of Life (PolyGram) with Justin Hayward’s smash “Your Wildest Dreams” returned the band to superstar status. The band’s releases since then have been mixed affairs, a lot of compilations and various live albums with and without symphony orchestras, although Strange Times (1999, Universal) has some strong tunes. These days they tour as an oldies act, but their new line up with original members Hayward, Edge and Thomas, augmented by Paul Bliss, keyboards, Gordon Marshall, drums, percussion, Bernie Barlow, Keyboards, vocals and Norda Mullen, flute, vocals may rock even harder than the band in their prime. Lovely To See You: Live at The Greek (2005, Image) shows a band that can rock the house as energetically as any of their young peers. And when Hayward delivers “Nights in White Satin”, his voice still hits all the high notes, and ladies of all ages still swoon.