In A Rock and Roll Band
April 14, 2020
But, oh what a band. When this group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2018, the music world rose up and exclaimed, “It’s about time.”
The Moody Blues is one of the longest running bands in rock and roll history, their music spanning six decades. It all began near Birmingham, England, in 1964. The original group consisted of Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Denny Laine, Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick.
The group had some moderate success in Great Britain for the next two years but it was in 1966 with a couple of key personnel changes when their sound and style really coalesced. At that time both Laine and Warwick left the group and were replaced with John Lodge and Justin Hayward.
Even with the new musicians in place, the group struggled to find their style. It was in 1967, however, that they released what is, arguably, their most significant album. From the Infallible Wikipedia:
“Released in November 1967, Days of Future Passed peaked at number 27 on the British LP chart. Five years later it reached number 3 on the Billboard chart in the US. The LP was a song cycle or concept album that takes place over the course of a single day. The album drew inspiration in production and arrangement from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by the Beatles, to whom Pinder had introduced the mellotron that year. It took the form to new heights using the London Festival Orchestra, a loose affiliation of Decca’s classical musicians given a fictitious name, adding the term ‘London’ to sound impressive, to provide an orchestral linking framework to the Moodies’ already written and performed songs, plus overture and conclusion sections on the album, including backing up Graeme Edge’s opening and closing poems recited by Pinder.”
Since their formation the group produced 16 studio albums, 26 compilation albums, and eight live albums. Of their 21 singles which charted in the Billboard Hot 100, Nights in White Satin (1972) was the biggest hit coming in at number two on November 3. Their next big hit occurred 14 years later with Your Wildest Dreams. It topped out at #9 on July 11, 1986.
The group continued to tour as recently as 2015 but, with the death of founding member Ray Thomas, the group is now whittled down to three members. And, let’s face it, they are not exactly young.
Their entry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in similar fashion to people warming up to their unique style, took years. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The Moody Blues are members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2013, readers of Rolling Stone voted for them as one of the ten bands that should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ultimate Classic Rock called them ‘perennial victims of an unaccountable snubbing’ and inducted them into its own Hall of Fame in 2014. (snip)
During his acceptance speech in Cleveland, Ohio (to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) Justin Hayward said, ‘If you didn’t know already, well we’re just a bunch of British guys, but of course to us and to all British musicians, this is the home of our heroes and we all know that…’ acknowledging the inspirational role of America’s rock and roll icons. During the ceremony, Ray Thomas was included as a star that was lost in the past year.”
Over the past decade, the MB’s has become one of my favorite ‘hitchhiker’ CD’s as I call them. With the frequent trips to Yakima music became an essential stress releaser and keep me alert strategy. I find I tended to choose the MB’s as companions on days when the weather was dreary and melancholy seemed to serve me best. Some of their early songs take me back to my high school days and dances. Nights in White Satin was a perennial favorite when it was time for a slow one. And the MB’s Your Wildest Dreams effectively captures the lament of the man – once young – who wonders when the years slipped away and if those he once knew still remember him.
Most of all, however, is that the songs are great for ‘cara-aoke’ and for a few minutes we can all be singers in a rock and roll band.
The first article was quite exhaustive. A few links:
Congratulations to Paul Roe who correctly identified all four bands on my Facebook challenge. Here’s what Paul wrote: Magic = The Cars, Sultans of Swing-Dire Straits (Knoffler has an awesome guitar solo), Nights in White Satin-The Moody Blues and You Give Love a Bad Name-Bon Jovi.
He hit it fast and early and no one else even had a chance! Woo Hoo Paul!