Without question, The Moody Blues are members of that tiny musical elite who can justifiably claim to have created genuine milestones in rock history, establishing themselves into the realms of eternal rock legend, and influencing a thousand imitators.
In a remarkable career that spans the 60's to present, The Moody Blues have earned a reputation for breaking down barriers and setting precedents. They played a key role in expanding rock's sonic and lyrical horizons; they've survived countless musical trends while maintaining both their integrity and popularity; and continue to produce the goods for a multi-generational and fanatically devoted international following. In short, the Moodies are one of the world's most innovative and successful bands in rock history.
For close to 30 years, The Moody Blues have been musical mainstays on concert stages, record albums and radio airwaves. But success for the Moodies did not come overnight.
With humble beginnings in the mid-60's as an R&B act, The Moody Blues were on the verge of becoming dubbed "one hit wonders" when they were unable to reignite their commercial appeal following up their mega-hit Go Now. With the exit of Denny Laine and Clint Warwick, and the replacement of the two with Justin Hayward and John Lodge, the band soon took on a different style - and a whole new beginning. "We were lower-middle-class English boys singing songs about people in the deep south of America, and it just wasn't truthful. When we started playing our own songs, expressing our own feelings and developing a style of our own, things began improving," says Justin Hayward.
And improve, they have. The Moody Blues - Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas, have generated sales of more than 60 million albums to date with three #1, one #2, five Top 20 and multiple Top 40 albums. They have become one of the top touring acts in rock history, with a following that has been compared only to that of The Grateful Dead's.
The band's first full studio album, Days of Future Passed, was released in 1967 and stayed on the Billboard charts for more than two solid years. Featuring the classic hit, Tuesday Afternoon, and one of the biggest selling singles of all-time, Nights In White Satin (which hit #1 three separate years), the album became a milestone in rock recording, as it marked the first time a rock band fused its music with a symphony orchestra. It was one of the very first concept albums, and one of the first albums recorded in stereo, which set the standard for many others to follow.
The Moody Blues soon began to quickly emerge from its Birmingham, England roots, finding an intense and immense following of fans in the U.S. and throughout other continents for their subsequent albums In Search of a Lost Chord, On The Threshold of a Dream, and To Our Children's Children's Children.
In 1970, The Moody Blues formed their own record company, Threshold Records, and it served as a business base for the group for several decades. The group's first release on Threshold included Question, which became the Moody Blues' first international #1 hit single from the album A Question of Balance.
As the 1970's emerged, the Moody Blues became established and settled, touring the world, and recording such hit albums as Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn, spurning another classic hit I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band). In 1972, Days of Future Passed returned to the charts as an American reissue for another amazing two-year chart run.
With the incredible success of Seventh Sojourn, the Moodies reached the height of their popularity in 1972, and it elevated to the point where the band felt entrapped. To all outward appearances, the Moody Blues were at the top of their game. They followed Seventh Sojourn with a triumphant nine month world crusade that saw them play for over a million people throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, Hawaii and the continental U.S., but it was to be the last time that The Moody Blues were to appear together on stage for the next four years.
Work had begun on material for a new LP, but it was not meant to be. As John Lodge recalled later, "I remember all of us sitting down one day and saying, `I don't think we want to do this anymore, not for now, anyway. Let's put it away and find some new breathing space.'" "At the time I thought we were crazy," Hayward said, "but looking back now I can see it was the only thing we could have done. We were experiencing massive success, yet we were incredibly unhappy. All we'd achieved, instead of making our world bigger made it smaller, and it reached the point where success was controlling us, instead of us controlling it, and it all became too much."
The break allowed band members to focus on projects outside the group. Justin Hayward and John Lodge collaborated on the Blue Jays album in 1975. Graeme Edge made two solo albums with Adrian Gurvitz, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom, before departing for an ocean-going trip around the world. Ray Thomas produced two solo albums, From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams. John Lodge recorded Natural Avenue. Justin Hayward recorded solo albums, Songwriter and Nightflight, and worked with Jeff Wayne on the War of the Worlds project which produced the beautiful worldwide hit Forever Autumn. Keyboard player Mike Pinder announced his intentions not to perform live again, and produced his own solo album, The Promise.
In 1974, This is the Moody Blues "best of" album was released, in addition to the `77 release of Caught Live +5, a live 1969 concert with five previously unreleased studio tracks. The healthy sales from these albums made it clear that the band's fans were as enthusiastic as ever.
It was no surprise that when the Moodies reformed in 1978 to deliver the much anticipated Octave, that the album shot to the top of the charts with singles Steppin' In A Slide Zone and Driftwood. This proved that their fans had remained loyal despite a four year absence.
But for the Moody Blues to prove their continuing viability, they needed to see how well they were to be received on the next album and tour, by which time and nostalgia factors would have dissolved, and the band would have to stand or fall on its late 1970's merits. Punk rock had shattered the music establishment at the time, and power pop and new wave were just beginning to be accepted. The group's 1980 album, Long Distance Voyager, was savaged by the press as none of the band's previous albums had ever been. Fortunately for the band, the buying public felt otherwise, and Long Distance Voyager reached the #1 spot on the U.S. album charts. The accompanying singles, Gemini Dream and The Voice, became hit songs, and the U.S. tour was a complete sell-out.
In 1983, The Moody Blues followed with The Present, which continued in a similar vein with such standout tracks as Sitting At The Wheel and Blue World.
The Moodies' next album in 1986 created an entire new wave of young fans with the release of their mega-album, The Other Side of Life. Teaming up with former David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, was yet another pivotal effort, introducing a newly streamlined musical and lyrical style for the Moody Blues. With the mega-hit, Your Wildest Dreams, the Moodies acquired a new generation of fans when its accompanying video became a huge MTV hit and claimed Billboard magazine's "Video of the Year" award, aggregating one of the biggest singles of their career to date.
The Other Side of Life was a tremendous turning point for us. It won us a lot of new fans that have stuck with us since, and I think it added another ten years to the band's life," said Hayward.
Sur La Mer followed in 1988, and continued with yet another hit single, I Know You're Out There Somewhere, the counterpart to Your Wildest Dreams; and in 1991, the album Keys of the Kingdom, produced the hit single Say It With Love.
By this time, the Moodies were firmly reestablished as one of rock's most reliably popular concert attractions, playing for audiences composed of both longtime devotees and new converts -- many of whom had been drawing breath for fewer years than the band had been making records.
In September 1992, the Moody Blues commemorated the 25th anniversary of Days of Future Passed with a live performance at Denver's Red Rocks amphitheatre accompanied by a full 88-piece symphony orchestra...the first time the band had played live with a symphony. The performance was made into a PBS television special, home video release, and live album, and became one of PBS' top pledge drive producers for the four ensuing years.
Responding to the overwhelming success of the symphony appearance, the Moodies took their celebratory extravaganza on the road, playing with symphony orchestras in each city of the U.S., and have been doing so to present, establishing them yet again, as one of the top touring acts of the decade.
In 1994, the band released Time Traveller, a five CD box-set collection on Polydor Records, chronicling their rich history, from their 1967 singles through their ground-breaking recordings, to their current concert successes. That same year, the Moodies were inducted in Hollywood's Rock Walk, where their handprints and signatures are now permanently on display, alongside Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page, B.B. King, ZZ Top, and many others.
In the midst of their consistent touring schedule, the Moodies have been writing new songs for a new album for the past four years. Once their 1996 summer tour is completed, the group plans to go into the studio to record the 14th studio album of their career -- a project that fans have been eagerly anticipating since 1991.
Over the course of their longevity, the Moody Blues have collected various awards including: U.S. performing rights society, ASCAP, the NARM Number One World Group Award, Playboy Vocal Group of the Year Award, Performance awards, and the Ivor Novello Statue Award. The group also received an unusual award from the group's biggest outer space fan, Robert 'Hoot' Gibson, Chief NASA Astronaut. Taking audio cassettes of Days of Future Passed and Seventh Sojourn with him on every one of the space shuttle trips -- the Challenger, the Endeavor, and the Atlantis -- the Moodies' music has had the singular distinction of having travelled 10 million miles, and circled 420 times around the earth. Encased in a special plaque, the cassette of Days of Future Passed now resides in Los Angeles' Hard Rock Cafe memorabilia display.
A quarter century after they first vowed to stay true to themselves regardless of the consequences, the Moody Blues remain one of rock's most vital and unique resources.
Says Hayward, "When we agreed to throw away the matching blue suits and just play what we wanted to play, we agreed then, and shook hands on it, that we would make music for ourselves, and trust our own judgement. We've done that ever since. We haven't been influenced by fashion or trends, and because of that, we've seen a lot of things come and go -- and we're still here. We made a promise to do music that expressed what was in our hearts. We made that promise to ourselves, but also to the people who listened to our records, and those feelings come through in the music."
The Moody Blues have undoubtedly earned the reputation they've achieved as one of the most innovative, respected musical groups in rock history, and continue to maintain their status as one of the preeminent rock groups of all time.