MOODY BLUES

Their early R&B style ex­plored

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Al­though known for their lav­ish MOR bal­lads and prog-rock sym­phonies, The Moody Blues be­gan play­ing R&B on the Bri­tish blues scene of the early 60s. Formed in Birm­ing­ham in 1964, the orig­i­nal line up fea­tured Ray Thomas (per­cus­sion, flute, vo­cals), Michael Pinder (keys, vo­cals), Clint War­wick (bass, vo­cals), Graeme Edge (drums, vo­cals), and Denny Laine on gui­tar (who would later form Wings with Paul McCart­ney). Their sec­ond sin­gle, Go Now, was a UK Num­ber 1 and Top 10 in Amer­ica, es­tab­lish­ing the band as A-lis­ters among the Bri­tish In­va­sion bands. Their de­but al­bum, The Mag­nif­i­cent Mood­ies, was a mix of R&B cov­ers and orig­i­nal songs (writ­ten by Laine and Pinder). Un­for­tu­nately, fur­ther sin­gles failed to match their ini­tial suc­cess and, with the band fac­ing debts and man­age­ment is­sues, War­wick and Laine quit in 1966. Bassist John Lodge and gui­tarist Justin Hayward were swiftly drafted in as re­place­ments, and the fa­mous Moody Blues MkII line-up was formed.

This pe­riod of change of­fered the Mood­ies a chance to change di­rec­tion; they moved away from their R&B roots and fo­cused on their clas­si­cal in­flu­ences in­stead. New sin­gle re­leases fol­lowed, but th­ese were met by a lukewarm re­sponse from crit­ics and pun­ters alike. How­ever, this pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity

Hayward's solid rhythm work and pi­o­neer­ing use of open tun­ings be­came an im­por­tant part of the group's new 'prog rock' sound.

for fur­ther ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and space to de­velop their style out of the lime­light. It was around this time that Michael Pinder started play­ing the Mel­lotron (a com­plex ana­logue sam­pler), an in­stru­ment re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the Mood­ies’ trade­mark lush string sounds. In 1967, the band re­leased their sec­ond al­bum Days Of Future Passed, a heady fu­sion of or­ches­tral ar­range­ments, po­etry, and rock ’n’ roll; a pi­o­neer­ing al­bum now recog­nised as a mile­stone that launched the prog-rock move­ment. The Moody Blues were in­stantly es­tab­lished as ‘se­ri­ous’ al­bum artists. The al­bum also con­tained Justin Hayward’s epic bal­lad, Nights In White Satin, one of the band’s most iconic songs.

Hayward is equally pro­fi­cient on acous­tic and elec­tric gui­tars. The per­cus­sive qual­i­ties of acous­tic (six- and 12-string) are per­fect for lay­ing down rhythm parts. His solid rhythm work and pi­o­neer­ing use of open tun­ings be­came an im­por­tant part of the group's new prog rock sound; but the roots of his style are steeped in 50s rock and roll. “My idol was always Buddy Holly, and the way he played was truly the great­est in­flu­ence on me. It’s the mu­sic that you love when you are young that's the most en­dur­ing, and the way Buddy played had ev­ery­thing I as­pired to as a gui­tarist.”

Other in­flu­ences in­clude James Bur­ton (ev­i­dent in his pref­er­ence for the Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic); Roy Buchanan (a clear in­flu­ence on Hayward’s ex­pres­sive solo­ing); and Hank Marvin (pi­o­neer of melodic elec­tric gui­tar). Justin’s main axe, a Cherry Red Gib­son ES-335, pro­vided the rich tones that can be heard soar­ing above the band's dense sym­phonic ar­range­ments.

If you’ve never ex­plored the mu­sic of The Moody Blues, you’re in for a treat! Grab your elec­tric (and acous­tic) and pre­pare for a jour­ney in search of the lost chord…

Justin Hayward and John Lodge of The Moody Blues

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