The Moody Blues Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Series Interview
Cleveland, Ohio (April 12, 2018) – On a warm but breezy evening in the CLE, legendary rockers Justin Hayward (guitar and vocals), Graeme Edge (drums) and John Lodge (bass) of The Moody Blues took the stage for a wide-ranging and totally absorbing Q&A session with a house full of appreciative fans. For years the question “How could The Moody Blues NOT be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” left both fans and music critics baffled. But this night, that question was finally put to rest as the band took time to bask in the glow of its induction, and look back on its more than fifty-year career with both sentimentality and pride.
The band had undergone a series of transformations that undoubtedly fueled its longevity. In its earliest days, The Moody Blues focused on creating an American blues and soul kind of sound. Their first hit, “Go Now“, reflected this influence. The lead singer on that song was Denny Laine, who left the group before “Nights in White Satin” and later became a member of Paul McCartney‘s band Wings (which is why “Go Now” appears on the “Wings Over America” album.)
To hear Justin Hayward relate the story, “we came to realize that we needed to start writing our own music and tell our own story. None of us had the foggiest idea of what a cotton field even looked like.” And this led to their evolution toward a more psychedelic and progressive rock orientation.
The band’s connection to the Beatles runs even deeper than Denny Laine’s eventual move to Wings. One of the highlights of the evening was hearing Graeme Edge tell the story of how The Moody’s opened for the Beatles one night at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool. “We finished our set and stayed around to watch for a bit. The Beatles played “Long Tall Sally” and “Twist And Shout” to start their set. After those two songs, we decided we heard enough and left to go to another pup and get drunk!” And so it goes in the world of rock and roll.
The band’s signature sound came from adding the Mellotron and flute to its instrumentation. The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in 1963. It evolved from a similar instrument, the Chamberlin, but could be mass-produced more effectively1. The instrument allowed the band to produce the orchestral sound, which eventually became its trademark. To watch how this worked on stage at the Isle of Wight Music Festival is truly a thing of beauty!
The Moody’s were fortunate to be signed by the Decca record label. At the time, Decca was the second largest producer of classical music in the world, and this worked to the band’s advantage. The label took a hands-off approach to the group and basically allowed them to record the music that they wanted to make without interference, which was highly unusual at the time. The head of the label felt that people rather liked what the boys produced, and there was no reason to change that. In time, their relationship with Decca also led to collaboration with the London Festival Orchestra, which further strengthened their sound.
Today in the afterglow of last night’s induction ceremony, both the band and their countless fans are resting easier knowing that The Moody Blues have finally made their way home. Long Live Rock!
Learn more about The Moody Blues at http://www.moodybluestoday.com
Check out the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame at https://www.rockhall.com
And catch the extravaganza of the 2018 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony on HBO, Saturday, May 5.