Moody Blues Still Popular After 45 Years In The Music Business

Chris Welch

Justin Hayward, lead singer of the Moody Blues, has gotten many interesting calls in his 40-plus years in the music biz, but there's one he really wasn't expecting.

"I got a call from Matt Groening, creator of 'The Simpsons,' and he said that Homer was a Moody Blues fan," Hayward said during a phone interview from his office in Monaco.  Homer Simpson into the Moody Blues? The big, dumb yellow cartoon guy who walks around saying "D'oh!"?

"That's how it started off, and we were written into the episode," said Hayward, who is performing with the Moody Blues next Sunday night in the Von Braun Center Arena. "We went into the studio and said this script. We sent it back to Matt and his staff and heard nothing more.

"My daughter was in America and I got a call from her. She said, 'Hey, Dad, I just saw you on 'The Simpsons.' I asked, 'What do I look like?' And she said, 'Yellow - you're a primary color.'

"We weren't called the Moody Blues in the episode. We were called the Satin Nights (in reference to their hit 'Nights in White Satin'), and there were posters in the shop that had the Moody Blues supporting us. They were having a bit of fun."

Yes, 45 years after the group formed in the United Kingdom as M&B, a tribute to a British beer, the Moody Blues are still having fun. Whether it's finding them still culturally relevant on "The Simpsons," having their music featured in movies or television or continuing to perform one of their zillions of live shows such as the one they'll do here next weekend, the Moodies still enjoy doing the rock star thing.

In addition to Hayward, the Moody Blues includes original members John Lodge on bass and vocals and drummer Graeme Edge. The group has sold in excess of 70 million albums worldwide with hits such as "Tuesday Afternoon" and "I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)" and "I Know You're Out There Somewhere."

"Absolutely, it's been an adventure, and it still amazes me every time we're sent in those awful dressing rooms," said the personable and playful Hayward. "It's the three of us who are left - me, Graeme and John - to look after this big, venerable baby. This is how we get our pleasure in life; this is how we get our kicks. All we've ever wanted to do was do gigs and play."

The group is best known for its anthem-like singles that combine classical music with pop rock, and even in some cases, poetry. "Late Lament" is probably the best known of the Moodies' poetry on record, the title of a spoken word poem near the end of "Nights in White Satin."

Many fans continue to push for the Moody Blues' entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's no big deal to Hayward.

"I know it means a lot to the Moody Blues fans community," Hayward said. "But if you don't live in America - and I'm a European and this is my territory - it doesn't mean anything. It's pretty meaningless on (the other) side of the Atlantic.

"In my own view, they should have closed it after Steely Dan. And I've always been disappointed with the minimum space they've given to Buddy Holly."

A spot in the Rock Hall notwithstanding, what impact have the Moody Blues had on rock 'n' roll?

"I don't know," Hayward said. "We're a group only interested in music. We've never been flavor of the month, never did any publicity in our big years, so I don't know the answer to that.

"I know when some people come to the shows, they say, 'I didn't realize that was you who did that song' or they knew so many of our songs they've heard on the radio. We hope that in the last 45 years we might have crossed peoples' path, and they've been interested in the Moodies."

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