The Moody Blues in their heyday. From left to right: Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, Ray Thomas and John Lodge.
The Moody Blues are a Long Runner Psychedelic Rock
and Progressive Rock
band from Birmingham, England, founded in 1964.
Ray Thomas, John Lodge and Mike Pinder had all been members of various amateur bands, before Lodge left to go to college. The remaining two recruited band manager-turned-drummer Graeme Edge, guitarist Denny Laine (later of Wings
) and Clint Warwick (Albert Eccles) on bass to form the Moody Blues. Originally, they were mostly a white R&B band in line with most of the British Invasion
bands of this period. Under a recording contract with Decca Records, they first had success with the single "Go Now", which was a top 10 hit in the United States and, in fact, remains their only #1 single in the UK. Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies
was released in 1965, but they had trouble following the success of "Go Now" with an additional hit, and in 1966, Warwick and Laine both left.
Warwick was briefly replaced by Rodney Clark, but this didn't last, and their best-known line-up was formed when Pinder, Thomas and Edge reunited with Lodge and joined up with guitarist Justin Hayward of the Wilde Three. This line-up released two more singles, "Fly Me High" and "Love and Beauty", which also found little success. However, the latter was a definite move towards their classic sound, featuring the symphonic sounds of Pinder's mellotron and using Thomas' flute as more of a featured instrument. From here on, the Moodies would become a full-blown Psychedelic Rock
Their contract with Decca was set to expire, but the label offered them a deal to promote their new "Deramic Stereo Sound" audio format with a rock version of Antonin Dvořáks New World Symphony
. They were unable to complete this, but convinced Peter Knight, who had been hired to conduct the orchestral material on the abandoned project, to continue working with them (providing overtures, conclusions and orchestral linking sections between songs) on a recording that would blend rock music with symphonic sounds, in the structure of a concept album about a day in the life of an everyman. The resulting album, Days of Future Passed
(1967), was a sales success, mostly on the back of Hayward's Top 20 single "Nights in White Satin" (and, in America, the #24 placing of "Tuesday Afternoon"). Special note must be made of Pinder's contributions: he and producer Tony Clarke removed the sound effects tapes from his mellotron and doubled up the orchestral tapes, combining with Pinder's skills on the mellotron to create a symphonic "wave" sound that would become a defining characteristic of their work. Its concept album structure is also a huge influence on Progressive Rock
The three following albums, In Search of the Lost Chord
(1968), On the Threshold of a Dream
(1969, which was their first UK #1 album) and To Our Children's Children's Children
(1969, another Concept Album
inspired by the then-recent moon landing), were also successes, featuring several more hit singles, and lacked the full orchestra, instead relying on the mellotron. However, this full, symphonic sound, heavily reliant on overdubbing, was too difficult for them to reproduce in concert, so they stripped down their sound a little more for 1970's A Question of Balance
and 1971's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
, which were also huge successes, the former yielding a #2 hit in "Question", and they and the final album in their classic period, 1972's Seventh Soujourn
, all produced several Top 40 singles. However, five years of touring and recording had taken their toll on the band, and they felt they were running out of ideas. They eventually went on hiatus and would not record for another five years.
The band got back together in 1977 to record a new album, Octave
. However, Pinder had married and started a family in the interim, so he declined to go on tour with them. Besides this, there was a fire at the studios they were using, and a landslide after rain marooned them in Pinder's home where they were using his home studio, causing tension to rise. Eventually, Pinder left the band, and on tour he was replaced by Swiss ex-Yes
keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Their follow ups, Long Distance Voyager
(1981) and The Present
(1983), were also successful, but they lacked their trademark lush, symphonic mellotron-led sound, replaced with a more modern feel. Similarly, Hayward, who had also been the primary composer of their hit singles including "Nights in White Satin" and "Question", was forced by marketers to have one of his songs lead off each album, and they were now more aimed at getting radio airplay. With Hayward and Lodge now acting as the primary composers, Ray Thomas was being pushed off to the side, and because of all of this the quality of their albums suffered from this point onwards, particularly in Pinder's absence.
The band enjoyed a boost in commercial fortunes with their 1986 album The Other Side of Life
and another Hayward tune and U.S. Top 10 single, "Your Wildest Dreams". Unfortunately, this and their followup, 1988's Sur La Mer
, are probably their weakest albums yet - producer Tony Visconti and synth programmer Barry Radman were introducing the use of sequencers, samplers and drum machines in order to remain contemporary in the musical climate of the 80's, pushing the Moodies towards a boring, anemic Synth Pop sound. Hayward and Lodge's compositions were becoming increasingly lightweight and not as deep musically, and since the music they were producing did not fit at all with a flute, Thomas continued the process of Garfunkel-isation
(going so far as to be mixed out of Sur La Mer
entirely, though this was partly due to illness). While these albums and 1991's Keys to the Kingdom
remained good sellers, critics were bashing the Moodies by this time, and Moraz was expressing dissatisfaction with being in the band, eventually leaving in 1991. The other members continued on as a four-piece, supported by live keyboardists.
Faced with critical maulings and a lawsuit from Moraz in 1992, the Moodies took a hiatus from recording, instead continuing to tour. This time, they performed with an orchestra, finally allowing them to fully recreate much of their early work on stage. Eventually they got back into the studio to record their latest all-original album, 1999's Strange Times
. This was a huge improvement, cutting down on the Synth Pop excesses of the 1980's and giving emphasis to guitars instead of keyboards, creating a pretty decent comeback. Thomas retired in 2002, and the band again continued as a trio of Edge, Hayward and Lodge (with unofficial fourth member, flautist Norda Mullen), cutting their latest album, the Christmas album December
, in 2003. The Moodies continue to tour to this day.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):
- Rodney Clark - bass, vocals (1966)
- Graeme Edge - drums, percussion, timpani, tabla, tambourine, VCS3 (1964-1974, 1977-Present)
- Justin Hayward - guitar, backing and lead vocals, piano, keyboard, sitar, cello, mandolin (1966-1974, 1977-Present)
- Denny Laine - guitar, backing and lead vocals, harmonica, piano, keyboard (1964-1966)
- John Lodge - bass, guitar, backing and lead vocals, cello, double bass, harp, keyboard (1966-1974, 1977-Present)
- Patrick Moraz - keyboard, synthesizer (1978-1991)
- Mike Pinder - keyboard, piano, organ, backing and lead vocals, mellotron, harpsichord, guitar, cello, autoharp, tambura, VCS3, celesta, synthesizer, chamberlin (1964-1974, 1977-1978)
- Ray Thomas - flute, percussion, tambourine, backing and lead vocals, harmonica, horn, keyboard, saxophone, oboe, french horn, bass flute, woodwinds (1964-1974, 1977-2002)
- Clint Warwick - bass, backing and co-lead vocals (1964-1966, died 2004)
- 1965 - The Magnificent Moodies
- 1967 - Days of Future Passed
- 1968 - In Search Of The Lost Chord
- 1969 - On The Threshold Of A Dream
- 1969 - To Our Children's Children's Children
- 1970 - A Question Of Balance
- 1971 - Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
- 1972 - Seventh Sojourn
- 1978 - Octave
- 1981 - Long Distance Voyager
- 1983 - The Present
- 1986 - The Other Side Of Life
- 1988 - Sur La Mer
- 1991 - Keys Of the Kingdom
- 1999 - Strange Times
- 2003 - December
- 1977 - Caught Live + 5
- 1993 - A Night At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony Orchestra
- 2000 - Hall Of Fame
- 2005 - Lovely To See You: Live
- 2007 - Live At The BBC: 1967–1970
- 2008 - Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
- Artistic License - Geology: "Visions of Paradise" refers to "blue onyx from the sea". According to Wikipedia, blue is one of the few colours which isn't possible for onyx.
- The Band Minus the Face: Mike Pinder wasn't exactly the Face of the Band, but it's generally perceived that they lost something with his departure.
- The British Invasion
- Canon Discontinuity: Few people remember The Magnificent Moodies nowadays, the only album of the Denny Laine era. The album is always ignored whenever the Moodies' catalog gets remastered/reissued, and songs from the album are almost never included on compilations, despite "Go Now" being a Top Ten hit.
- Chronological Album Title: Seventh Sojourn is the seventh album by the Hayward-Lodge lineup. Octave is the eighth.
- Concept Album: Most of their early albums. Days of Future Passed, To Our Children's Children's Children, A Question of Balance...
- Dark Reprise: Eyes of a Child, parts 1 and 2.
- Dystopia: The music video for "The Other Side of Life".
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The Magnificent Moodies sounds nothing like the sound people associate with the Moody Blues.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin / New Sound Album: As heard on The Magnificent Moodies, the Moody Blues really were a blues-based band to start with. Then came the Justin Hayward era, and the switch to the familiar soft-rock sound.
- Fading into the Next Song: The early albums (through Octave) all do this. The only gaps are between the first and second sides.
- Fan Nickname: The "Sixth Moody", for producer Tony Clarke.
- Greatest Hits Album: Several, but 1974's This Is The Moody Blues - which was specially mixed and sequenced by producer Tony Clarke, with the songs presented non-chronologically and crossfaded in order to flow like a "proper" album - is an especially notable example.
- Intercourse with You: "So Deep Within You", "Deep", "Say What You Mean"...
- Laughing Mad: "Departure" ends with Graeme Edge collapsing into this as it fades into "Ride My See-Saw".
- Lead Bassist: John Lodge has become a Type B more and more with each album.
- Lighter and Softer: Mainly the post-Clarke albums.
- Long Runner
- Long Runner Lineup: Four different lineups qualify under Type 2.
- Mood Whiplash: The ending of "Dear Diary" from On the Threshold of a Dream, after describing a typical pleasant day, ends "Somebody exploded an H-bomb today... but it wasn't anybody I knew".
- New Sound Album: Days of Future Passed marked their shift from white blues to symphonic rock. Long Distance Voyager was the beginning of the synth-heavy Moraz years.
- Progressive Rock: Arguably the first major prog group.
- Psychedelic Rock
- Record Producer: Tony Clarke helmed all of their albums from Days of Future Passed through Octave, and played a significant role in shaping their classic sound.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: "Dr. Livingstone I Presume" refers to "Antartic" eels. Presumably those would be eels that aren't hinged in the middle.note Also "Nights in White Satin" is sometimes misspelled "Knights", by people who evidently don't realise that this song is from an album about a Tuesday.
- Misplaced Wildlife: "Dr. Livingstone I Presume" also had Captain Scott encountering polar bears — evidently the writer failed to realise that "Antarctic" comes from the Greek for "no bears".