The Moody Blues were best known for fusing an orchestral sound with rock and roll, as seen in one of their most popular songs, "Nights in White Satin"
The Moody Blues are a British rock band originally from Birmingham, England. Founding members Michael Pinder and Ray Thomas performed an
initially rhythm and blues-based sound in Birminghan in 1964 along with Graeme Edge and others, and were later joined by John Lodge and Justin
Hayward as they inspired and evolved the progressive rock style. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in
their seminal 1967 album Days of Future Passed.
The band has had numerous hit albums in the UK, US, and worldwide, and has seen several additional musicians come and go, and they remain active
even as of 2006, with UK and US tours scheduled.
Founding and early history
The Moody Blues had their roots in the early 1960s in Birmingham, England. At the time, Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder were members
of El Riot & the Rebels, a regionally popular band. They disbanded when Lodge went to technical college and Pinder left to join the army.
Pinder then rejoined Thomas to form the Krew Cats and had moderate success. The pair recruited Denny Laine, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick,
appearing as the Moody Blues for the first time in Birmingham in 1964.
Soon, the band obtained a London-based management company, 'Ridgepride', formed by ex-Decca A&R man Alex Murray (Alex Wharton), and with
their help signed a contract with Decca Records in the spring of 1964. They released a single, "Steal Your Heart Away", that year which made
it into the charts but it was "Go Now" (released later that year) which really launched their popularity, being promoted on TV with the first
ever purpose-made promo film (predating Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" by a decade) produced and directed by Wharton, their manager/producer.
The single became a huge hit and their only Number 1 single in the United Kingdom and the United States. Wharton left the management group
and, after a series of unsuccessful singles, Warwick and Laine departed, replaced by El Riot bandmate John Lodge, and Justin Hayward, formerly
of The Wilde Three, in 1966. The band soon realised that their original style of American blues covers and novelty tunes was not working for
them and they decided to develop an original style. Their new style would feature the symphonic sounds of the mellotron and Ray Thomas' flute,
to be developed in a concept album organised around a day in the life of everyman.
Deram Records contract and founding of signature style
The Moody Blues' contract with Decca Records was set to expire and they owed the label several thousands of pounds in advances. Deram Records
(a London/Decca imprint) chose the Moody Blues to make an LP in order to promote Deramic Stereo and the group was to be forgiven its debt to
the label to make a rock and roll version of Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony. The Moody Blues agreed, but insisted that they be given
artistic freedom and left without supervision. They then convinced Peter Knight, who had been assigned to arrange and conduct the orchestral
interludes, to collaborate on a recording of their stage show instead. Deram executives were initially sceptical about the hybrid style of the
resulting concept album, Days of Future Passed (1967). However, it would become one of the most successful commercial releases of all time.
The album plus two singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" became massively popular, as was the 1968 follow-up, In Search of
the Lost Chord. The top-40 single from this album, "Ride my See-Saw", was the first single to be mastered using eight-track recording technology.
The band's music continued to become more complex and symphonic, resulting in 1969's To Our Children's Children's Children, a concept album
based around the band's celebration of the first moon landing. (The album even went to the moon on Apollo space missions.)
Although the Moodies had by now defined a somewhat psychedelic style and helped to define the progressive rock (then also known as 'art rock')
sound, the group decided for a while to record only albums that could be played in concert, losing some of their bombastic sound for their next
album, A Question of Balance (1970). This album, reaching Number 3 in the American charts and Number 1 in the British charts, was
indicative of the band's growing success in America. For their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and Seventh
Sojourn (1972) (that reached No. 1 in both the UK and the US) the band returned to their signature orchestral sound which, while difficult
to play in concert, had become the band's trademark.
The Moodies were also pioneers of the idea that a successful rock band could promote itself through its own label, following the Beatles'
creation of Apple Records. Following their On the Threshold of a Dream album (1969), they created Threshold Records, prompted in
part by disputes with London/Deram over album design costs (their gatefold record jackets and expensive cover art were not popular with the
company execs). Threshold functioned by producing new albums and delivering them to London/Decca which acted as distributor. The group attempted
to build Threshold into a major label by developing new talent - most notably the UK hard rock band Trapeze and the Portland, Oregon classical
-acoustic sextet Providence - but these efforts proved unsuccessful and the Moodies eventually returned to more traditional recording contracts.
However, they did lay the groundwork for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals including The Rolling Stones'
own label and Led Zeppelin's Swan Song.
Hiatus, solo work
During the latter half of the 1970s, the group took an extended break - originally announced as a permanent break-up - to recuperate from a
heavy touring schedule. Hayward and Lodge released a duo album, the very successful Blue Jays (1975), and the members each released
solo albums. Edge produced two, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots (1975) and Paradise Ballroom (1976); Hayward generated Songwriter
(1977); Lodge released Natural Avenue (1977); Pinder produced The Promise (1976); and Thomas also two, From Mighty Oaks
(1975) and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams (1976).
Reunion, 1977 - 1990
In 1977, the group reformed and after a tempestuous recording session, 1978's Octave was released. However, Pinder refused to tour and
was replaced by former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz. In spite of these difficulties, the album was a hit, as was 1981's Long Distance
Voyager and its opening tracks "The Voice" amd "Gemini Dream". On these albums, the Moody Blues embraced a more modern and less symphonic
sound, although synthesizers were still a strong part of their composition.
The Present (1983) proved a little less successful though it did spawn a UK chart hit in "Blue World", but in 1986, they enjoyed renewed
success with their album The Other Side of Life and in particular with the track, "Your Wildest Dreams" - a Top 40 hit which garnered a
Billboard Video of the Year award after being frequently featured on MTV. The Moodies continued their early video-generation success with Sur
la Mer (1988) and its video/single, "I Know You're Out There Somewhere", a sequel to "Your Wildest Dreams".
1990s, new millennium, and present
The early 1990s saw the departure of Patrick Moraz. The band had begun to reinforce their concert sound in the later 1980s with the addition of
a second keyboardist and female backing vocals, and they decided not to hire a permanent replacement in the keyboard chair, but instead to tour
as a quartet with extra hired musicians. Keys of the Kingdom (1991) had modest commercial success. However, they remained among the
highest-earning concert acts, and a series of video and audio versions of their Night at Red Rocks concert enjoyed great success,
particularly as a fund-raiser for American public television. Their first studio album in eight years, Strange Times (1999), proved to
be the first Moodies album in almost two decades to be more than moderately received by UK critics and made the UK album top 10.
The new millennium saw the Moody Blues reducing their touring schedule. In 2002, founding member Ray Thomas retired from the group, leaving
Hayward, Lodge and Edge to continue without him. In 2003, they released, with the absence of Thomas, a Christmas-themed album entitled
December. The songs included originals and covers such as John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".
The remaining three members have continued to tour over the years. The Moody Blues will tour the UK and US again throughout 2006. In addition,
Hayward took part in the UK tour of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds in April 2006 with a proposed World tour of the
production in the pipeline.
In March of 2006 the first five of the band's 'Core 7' albums were re-released in SACD format with Deluxe Editions featuring bonus songs and
some rare previously unreleased tracks by the group.
Since Pink Floyd's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Moody Blues (along with Yes) are at the head of the list of progressive
rock groups which have not yet been inducted.
- Go Now! (a.k.a. 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)
- This Is The Moody Blues (Compilation double album) (1974)
- Caught Live + 5 (1977)
- Octave (1978)
- Long Distance Voyager (1981)
- The Present (1983)
- The Other Side of Life (1986)
- Prelude (Compilation of 1967-69 odds & ends) (1987)
- Sur La Mer (1988)
- Keys Of The Kingdom (1991)
- A Night at Red Rocks (1993)
- Strange Times (1999)
- Hall Of Fame - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2000)
- Journey Into Amazing Caves (IMax movie soundtrack) (2001)
- December (2003)
- Lovely To See You Again (Live concert 2CD) (2005)
- Days of Future Passed SACD (2006)
- In Search of the Lost Chord SACD (2006)
- On the Threshold of a Dream SACD (2006)
- To Our Children's Children's Children SACD (2006)
- A Question of Balance SACD (2006)
- Go Now
- Nights in White Satin
- Tuesday Afternoon
- Isn't Life Strange
- Ride My See-Saw
- I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock-N-Roll Band)
- Gemini Dream
- The Voice
- Talking Out of Turn
- Blue World
- Siting At the Wheel
- In Your Wildest Dreams
- I Know You're Out There Somewhere
- The Other Side Of Life
- Say It With Love
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It uses material from the Wikipedia article - The Moody Blues