Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why Not The Moody Blues

I was out on a run the other night listening to The Moody Blues on my iPod and started to get really mad.  I'm mad because this much deserving band is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I suspect somewhere along the line, when the band was at its peak in their popularity in the early 70's, they did something to piss off Jan Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone magazine and the man who pretty much decides who gets in and who gets left out of the Hall.

I have friends that loathe the band, yes I'm talking about you John Broholm.  I understand their psychedelic light approach to rock and roll might not sit well with purists.  But this band made seven outrageously good albums over a six year period, starting with the groundbreaking "Days of Future Passed."  Outside of The Beatles, they were my favorite British band.  It broke my heart when they stopped touring and making music in 1974.  And I couldn't wait to buy a ticket when they reformed and started touring again in 1979.

The band's story is amazing in and of itself.  After a one off hit with a cover of "Go Now" in 1964, the band hit a wall and fell apart.  Enter Justin Hayward and John Lodge and this blues based band changed direction.  The epic "Days of Future Passed" launched the band and the group was off and running.  The band's use of a full orchestra was groundbreaking.  Mike Pinder made full use of a melotron, which mimicked the strings, long before digital keyboards came along.  They had a unique sound and produced concept after concept album. 

The Moody Blues were still making great music up to 1972's Seventh Sojourn, launching a world tour, one that I had hoped to catch.  But then suddenly it all ended.  The band called it quits. I think the constant touring and a lot of excesses tore the band apart.

When you talk of the great British bands of the 60's and 70's, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues belongs in that discussion.  They weren't a pop band looking to produce hit singles.  They took a different path and made some arguably great music in the process. 

Even when the band reunited in 1978, keyboardist Mike Pinder begged off touring and The Moody Blues have soldiered on since without him.  I've seen them live more than a half dozen times, a couple of shows with full orchestra's backing them.  I had the pleasure of meeting John Lodge, Graham Edge and Justin Hayward in 2004 before they played a show in Fort Myers.  Outside of getting to meet someone like Bob Dylan, Neil Young or one of the remaining Beatles or Grateful Dead, I don't think of anybody I'd rather meet in the field of music.

The Moody Blues almost single-handedly invented progressive rock.  Yet they get no love for it.  They had a hit song, "Nights in White Satin," which first charted in Great Britain in 67 but didn't hit the charts in the U.S.A. until 1972.  Ironically, ever member of the 1967 lineup is alive and kicking, although flutist Ray Thomas stopped touring a decade ago.  They deserve entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And by the way, so does Chicago.


  1. John, your point is well taken. The Moody Blues were a band which did not follow fashion. I wonder, by the way, if "Nights in White Satin" didn't spoil their potential for greater credibility with the passing of the years. They made a lot better music than what that song reveals (personal opinion, of course), but without receiving much attention. The result is that they are forever identified with that particular song, a song which many love to hate. Kind regards, Mason

  2. I'm in total agreement that the Moodies are a great band and have done some excellent albums. Their lyrics are much more creative and meaningful than most of the popular music of their time.