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27-Jun-10
Justin Hayward talks about Moody Blues' past, future

By KIRK BAIRD
ToldeoBlade.com

The Moody Blues have sold more than 70 million records worldwide and charted 14 platinum and gold discs during a four-decade career.

The British band's pioneering 1967 album "Days of Future Passed" was among the earliest commercially successful fusions of psychedelic rock and roll and classical music. The record spawned the classics "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)" and "Nights in White Satin," and helped establish a new genre of heady, experimental, and often lengthy, complicated music known as progressive rock, later exemplified by bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, and Rush.

There have been other hits by the band as well, including "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)," "Gemini Dream," "Question," "Your Wildest Dreams," "Ride My See-Saw," "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," "Isn't Life Strange," "Steppin' in a Slide Zone," and "The Voice."

So where's the love, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? When do the Moody Blues receive their critical acknowledgment by the music establishment?

The latter question, or a facsimile of it, has been posed to Moody Blues frontman and guitarist Justin Hayward for years. Frankly, the 63-year-old doesn't care about the honor of being inducted, or even for the museum, for that matter.

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is something that is important to American fans; it means nothing to us as players," Hayward said. "It’s something you don’t think about really. It doesn’t enter my mind. If you live in Europe, ‘Yeah, so, it’s a hall of fame museum in Cleveland.’ I don’t think most people in the UK even know about it, I don’t think it even gets reported in the UK. There’s no reason why it should, is there?"

Short answer: Don’t expect the Moody Blues to make the drive to Cleveland to tour the facility while they’re in town for a Friday night concert at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater, 2700 Broadway Ave. The concert kicks off at 7:30 and tickets are $42.50 and $59.50. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available for purchase in person at the Toledo Zoo box office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today-Thursday, or day of the show beginning at 6 p.m. Call (419) 385-5721 for more information.

The Blade recently chatted with Hayward about the band he’s played with for nearly 45 years, the plans to play an entire Moody Blues album in concert (hint: it’s not "Days of Future Passed"), the group’s new record deal, and when the three — Hayward, Graeme Edge, and John Lodge — will call it quits.

Q: There seems to be a considerable amount of teamwork in the band these days.

A: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think particularly the last few years when we just have the three guys who always wanted to be there playing the music and that’s important. I think this is probably the best incarnation of the band that we’ve ever had. It’s certainly the happiest.

Q: Is that because everyone gets along and everyone wants to be in the band at this point, after the departures of Michael Pinder (co-founder and keyboards) and Ray Thomas (co-founder, flute, and vocals)?

A: Yes, I think it is. That was always true — everybody always wanted to be here, but just in the early days Mike really didn’t want to tour. That was OK when we were hot, making a lot of records. But it shouldn’t have held the rest of us back from touring and playing regularly. And then I think Ray, he just didn’t want to do it the last few years. I felt for him, as a friend I felt for him. I was glad that he had the courage to say enough is enough.

Q: Are you in contact with Ray anymore?

A: No, we’re not in touch but only because what you have in common with someone is the group, and once they leave the group it changes that feeling, and there’s really not much to talk about if you’re left in a group and the other person isn’t. What you have in common is the group and when you don’t have that anymore it’s a very different relationship.

Q: The trend these days is for bands to go back and cover a classic album in its entirety. The Moody Blues have covered "Days of Future Passed" before, but what about "In Search of the Lost Chord," "On the Threshold of a Dream," "To Our Children’s Children’s Children" or another classic album?

A: I’ve always liked that idea. I would love to do it as long as it was clear in the advertising for the gig that that is what we were going to do. I would like to do that and I know PBS is interested in having us doing that, and I hope that will happen in time.

Q: Any thoughts on what album that might be?


A: I think probably we would really start at the beginning and probably do "Lost Chord" after "Days of Future Passed." We haven’t actually done "Days of Future Passed" in its entirety.

Q: Oh, you haven’t?

A: No, we have used the orchestra a lot on lots of different concerts. "Days of Future Passed" parts or the identifiable bits that people can recognize, but we didn’t actually do the whole album in one go. I would like to.

Q: So that’s a possibility as well?

A: Absolutely. I think the difference is with "Lost Chord" you can do it without the orchestra, and with "Days of Future Passed" you would need the orchestra.

Q: What’s the status with a recording contract with the band? Are you close to getting signed with a record label?

A: Yes, yes, Universal has all but put pen to paper so they’re just dealing with some technicalities so our catalog can continue with them, and I’m very pleased about that. I think they’re the right company for it. I hope to continue to have a good relationship with them.

Q: Can Moody Blues fans expect a new album from the band at some point?


A: I think so. I hope so. I don’t know what the future holds. It’s probably true to say at the moment that what people want from us is DVDs and live concerts. We’re offered so much live work that I think we just figure that’s what we should probably do, really. The other thing is people want live DVDs ... Universal included, more than they want a new album. We have to sort of juggle with that dilemma. Really, I think we have to sit down at the end of this group of touring at the end of October ... and see what the right thing to do is.

Q: How about a new solo album by you? Is that in the works?

A: Yeah, I’ve been recording a lot of material. I’ve got about half an album completed at the moment, and the rest of the songs more or less written, so I don’t know what that will turn into. Maybe that will turn into Moody Blues stuff, it will sort of morph into Moody Blues stuff, or stay as solo. I don’t know yet, but I’m sure it will see the light of day within the next year or so.

Q: The Moody Blues are closer to the end than the beginning at this point. Have you and the other members of the band talked about how and when the group will end?


A: No, we haven’t talked about that because it’s just not in sight yet. All of us want to work. I think the best thing we think we can do is just keep putting this music in front of people. I’m always amazed that there’s so much music that we’ve made that a lot of people haven’t heard. People are really familiar with the first seven albums, but from there on they’re a bit sort of patchy on it. I think our purpose is to keep on doing what we’re doing and to keep on touring. That’s the best way we know to keep putting our music in front of people.

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