The Moody Blues are an English rock band formed in Birmingham during the mid-1960s. Initially an R&B/beat combo, the band underwent a swift change in frontal personnel and ultimately established itself amid the rise of album-oriented orchestral rock.
Starting with the revolutionary band/orchestra pairing Days of Future Passed in 1967, the Moody Blues issued a string of albums that combined the rhythmic thrust of rock with the lavishness and epic scope of classical music. The band went on hiatus for five years during the 1970s but regrouped late in the decade for renewed stature as a popular live attraction.
Members: Graeme Edge (drums), Clint Warwick (bass, vocals, 1964-66), Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, harmonica, 1965-2002), Mike Pinder (vocals, keyboards, guitar, 1965-78), Denny Laine (vocals, guitar, 1965-66), Justin Hayward (vocals, guitar, 1966-present), John Lodge (vocals, bass, 1966-present), Patrick Moraz (keyboards, 1978-91)
The Moody Blues spun from an earlier Brummie combo El Riot & the Rebels, which featured flautist/percussionist Ray Thomas (1941–2018), keyboardist Mike Pinder (b. 1941), and bassist John Lodge (b. 1945). That band folded when the young Lodge enrolled in technical college.
After gigging in Hamburg with the Krew Kats, Thomas and Pinder teamed with singer/guitarist Denny Laine (aka Brian Hines, b. 1944), who fronted beatsters The Diplomats, which included future Move/ELO drummer Bev Bevan. Bassist Clint Warwick (aka Albert Eccles, 1940–2004), formerly of Danny King & the Dukes, completed the new band, which named itself The Moody Blues. The name was inspired by the Duke Ellington song “Mood Indigo” and the band’s self-identity as a blues act.
In the spring of 1964, The Moody Blues were taken up by the management firm Ridgepride, which negotiated a contract with Decca. The band’s first single was “Steal Your Heart Away” b/w “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose your Mind).” It was followed that November by “Go Now!” (b/w “It’s Easy Child”), a UK #1 that, when issued stateside (b/w “Lose Your Money”), made them part of the British Invasion when it reached #10 on Billboard in February 1965.
Their first album, The Magnificent Moodies, was released in July 1965 on Decca. It features six songs per side with a total length of 34:23. Side two includes four Laine/Pinder originals: “Let Me Go,” “Stop,” “Thank You Baby,” and “True Story.” The remaining numbers, including the aforementioned hit, are all covers. The album was co-produced by band manager Alex Murray.
In the U.S., the album was released on London Records with an altered tracklist as Go Now – The Moody Blues #1. That version contains a cover of The Drifter’s “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You,” issued as the Moodies third single (UK #33). Their fourth single was the Laine/Pinder original “From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)” (UK #22).
The singles slowed in 1966 as the Moodies contemplated their future. That June, Warwich left the band. In October, Laine also left; he later surfaced in Wings with Paul McCartney. El Riot alumni John Lodge was invited back into the fold. For the role of frontman, the band found Swindon-born singer/guitarist Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three with ’50s rock idol Marty Wilde.
The mark II Moodies debuted in May 1967 with Hayward’s “Fly Me High” (b/w Pinder’s “Really Haven’t Got the Time”), followed with Pinder’s “Love and Beauty” (b/w Hayward’s “Leave This Man Alone”). The latter a-side marked the introduction of Mellotron into the band’s sound.
At this point, the Moodies were in debt with Decca, having spent their advances for an undelivered second album. To relieve the debt, Decca offered the band a deal: record an orchestrated rock version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony as a demonstration of the label’s new Deramic Stereo Sound. The proposed album would be released on Decca’s new Deram division with arrangements by conductor Peter Knight. The Moodies agreed to do the project as long as they got more artistic control. The label yielded and the band, dispensing with Dvořák, submitted their own material to Knight, who then composed interludes for the project.
- The Magnificent Moodies (1965)
- Days of Future Passed (1967)
- In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)
- On the Threshold of a Dream (1969)
- To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969)
- A Question of Balance (1970)
- Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971)
- Seventh Sojourn (1972)
- Octave (1978)
- Long Distance Voyager (1981)
- The Present (1983)
- The Other Side of Life (1986)
- Sur la Mer (1988)
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