The Moody Blues step back into the limelight

By David Owens

The Moody Blues have been plying their trade for more than 40 years, but according to the band’s legendary frontman Justin Hayward there ain’t no stopping them now. As Martin Hutchinson discovers.

LEGENDARY rock band The Moody Blues this year celebrate the 40th anniversary of their highest charting single Question.

Embarking on a 14-date UK tour throughout September, it seems strange that the tour isn’t named after the song itself.

The Day We Meet Again Tour features the long-standing nucleus of the band – Justin Hayward on vocals and guitar, John Lodge on vocals and bass, and Graeme Edge on drums.

“We couldn’t think of a good name for the tour with Question in it,” laughs Justin, speaking to me from his studio in Monaco.

“The name came from the song The Day We Meet Again from the Octave album,” he explains.

“We started doing the song again and it seemed to work really well. John (Lodge) came up with the title.

“We open the set with it and it’s a nice title for the tour.”

The band was formed in the mid-60s by Graeme Edge, Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Clint Warwick and Denny Laine, but after a number one hit with Go Now, things didn’t go too well.

Laine and Warwick left in 1966 and were replaced by Justin and John.

The band’s dynamic changed and their first album with the new line up became a classic.

Days Of Future Passed contained the hit singles Tuesday Afternoon and the song for which they will always be remembered, Nights In White Satin.

A string of hit albums and singles followed, and the band became one of the biggest in the world and was one of the first so-called stadium rock bands.

Justin reveals that it was the ubiquitous single Question that had a huge effect on the band when it charted in 1970.

“We hadn’t experienced that kind of hit single before,” he explains. Nights In White Satin was a slow burner really, it only reached 19 in 1967, but returned to the charts in 1972 reaching number nine and got to 14 in 1979.

“Question had an immediate impact and then everything looked a bit different for us.

“We played the Isle Of Wight Festival on the back of this huge record.” (Coincidentally, the DVD of The Moody Blues’ set in the festival has recently been released).

The song had an unusual birth as it was originally two songs as Hayward explains: “The recording session was booked for Saturday and the other boys – as usual – expected me to come up with something. On the Friday night I still hadn’t got it, but I had two other songs in the same key and I just changed some of the words.

“I was so relieved and all the guys liked it. Actually, there’s hardly any double-tracking on the song as we were making a conscious attempt to get more of a live feel as some of our songs were complicated to do live.”

Justin admits the enduring popularity of the band – apart from the excellent music – all started with a bit of good timing.

“We went to America in 1968 and it was the best thing we ever did,” he says.

“It was just as FM radio was starting over there and our music was perfect for it.”

Justin has been a member of The Moody Blues for more than 40 years and says he is still enjoying it.

“I love it even more than I did before – I wasn’t sure for the first 20 years,” he laughs.

“The three of us that are left are the ones who want to play live, it’s what we’re good at, and as long as we can stay healthy I’ll carry on enjoying it.

“In fact, the last couple of tours have been the most enjoyable I’ve done.”

For this tour, Justin, John and Graeme will be augmented by four other musicians.

“We’ve got Gordon Marshall on drums, he’s quite a showman – and Norda Mullen on flute, guitar and bass. Julie Ragins is on keyboards and backing vocals and there’s Alan Hewitt on keyboards – he’s a new boy and has never been to the UK before,” said Hayward.

“There’s going to be something from all our incarnations in the show.

“The first half will have a couple of oldies and some songs from the ’80s, while the second half will have more of the well-known songs – the hits.

“The problem is not what we put in, but what we have to leave out.

“We’re touring America in the spring, but the rest of the band have to wait for Gordon and me as we’ll be touring with the War Of The Worlds – Live On Stage.”

Justin sang Forever Autumn on Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds and reprises his role as The Sung Thoughts Of the Journalist.

“Next year will be another busy year for us, in fact we could work a lot more than we do,” he admits.

The songwriter hints that there may be some new material making an appearance.

“That’s right, I’ve been doing some stuff that I’m really pleased with,” he explains.

“But we’ll have to wait and see.”

He might be 63 now, but Justin says he is still optimistic for the future of The Moody Blues.

“I can’t see us stopping at the moment, but if one of the three of us stopped then it would be hard for just two to continue. I hope it doesn’t happen because it’s great music to play.”

Get VIP tickets including the intimate Storytellers Experience on the Moody Blues September UK Tour dates!

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