News



18-Aug-10
Moody Blues' hometown gig



By: Andrew Coleman
BirminghamMail.net

HE HAS toured the world many times with the Moody Blues and now lives in the prosperous commuter town of Cobham in Surrey but John Lodge’s heart remains in Birmingham.

When I tell him I’m phoning from the Birmingham Mail’s office in Fort Dunlop the bass player says: ‘‘I used to live in Inland Road in Erdington and from my bedroom window I could see Fort Dunlop. My uncle used to work there.

‘‘All my immediate family are still in Birmingham – my mother, sister, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews all live in Sutton Coldfield and Streetly.

‘‘What’s been happening in Birmingham over the past few years has made me really proud, the new developments, the Bullring and Brindleyplace, it’s amazing how Birmingham has come back to the top again.

‘‘Even with a football team called Birmingham City – sorry to all the Aston Villa supporters. To get Birmingham back in the Premier League, at the top, is, to me, absolutely fabulous.’’Bluenose John visits St Andrew’s as often as possible, sitting with his mate Jasper Carrott to see the games.

He’ll be in the city for a different reason on September 11 – with the rest of the Moodies he’ll be performing at the LG Arena.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to seeing the revamped arena,’’ he admits. ‘‘The people who work there are always so nice to us, they make us feel so welcome.’’

Having recently celebrated his 65th birthday John says he has no intention of slowing down.

‘‘We’ve just agreed to a six month tour of the States next year so that’s 2011 pretty much taken care of! And I’ve just released a charity song, Sunny Sunshine Faces, with proceeds going to the Variety Club Of Great Britain to buy a Sunshine coach. ‘‘The wonderful thing about music, even from day one, is ‘I wonder where the next gig is going to be’.

‘‘I remember, we’d play at the Tyburn House and we’d think ‘where are we going to play the next gig?’ Then suddenly it’s the Navigation or the Aston Chain and Hook, or it’s The Fox or it’s The Swan at Yardley or The Hen & Chickens at Langley or the Cedar Club. The next gig always seems to be exciting.’’

After attending Birches Green Junior School and Central Grammar School John formed El Riot And The Rebels with future Moody Blues members Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder. Despite the band becoming popular in Birmingham John began a HNC in mechanical engineering at Aston Technical College with the aim of a career in car designing.

‘‘Ray said he was going to London to become professional – I didn’t think that he meant a professional musician, just that he didn’t have to get up in the morning to go to work,’’ John chuckles. ‘‘I said I’d got another year at college and I was going to finish.’’

Ray went to London where, with Mike, Graeme Edge, Denny Laine and Clint Warwick, the Moody Blues evolved and had a hit with Go Now.

Recalls John: ‘‘I finished college and within a few months Ray rang me up and said, ‘John, do you want to get the old band back together? We’re no longer together as we were.’ He added ‘Have you finished college yet?’ I said ‘Yes.’ And he said ‘OK.’ And that was it.’’ That was 1966 and with Justin Hayward added to the line-up alongside Graeme and Mike the Moodies were on the verge of superstardom.

John says his upbringing in Birmingham contributed greatly to the band’s success, with the city’s heavy engineering contrasting with the culture of great classical music from the CBSO.

‘‘At my school every afternoon we’d have a quiet period where a piece of classical music was played. I never thought it was going into my psyche or into my soul but it probably was.

‘‘Going to the Town Hall and listening to classical music, then getting the rock and rollers to take the all-night sessions at the Town Hall, I think that’s where the blend became one.’’

* Ticket Info
Sept 11: LG Arena, Birmingham
Tickets: 0844 338 8000.

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