Moody Blues’ Hayward more than just a singer in a rock and roll band
Legendary group coming to Paramount Oct. 25
Last Word FeaturesOct 19, 2016 | 12:39 p.m.
Justin Hayward has a featured position in The Moody Blues, as its singer, guitarist and main songwriter. But that latter talent looks like it won’t get any further use within the group.
The Moody Blues last released an album in 2003 — the holiday CD “December.” There hasn’t been a studio album of new original music since 1999s’ “Strange Times.” Hayward said that’s likely to be the band’s final studio album.
“I think this is probably it,” Hayward said. “People want DVDs from us now. I think any product we do will be along that line.”
Fans of live music can still hear the “Nights in White Satin” singers on a tour that swings through the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night (10/25).
If The Moody Blues men are done making albums, they’ll leave fans with an impressive discography as it is.
The group started out in 1964 as an R&B-flavored pop outfit, and scored its first hit, “Go Now,” a year later. The song out The Moody Blues on the map and in the same bag with the other British Invasion bands.
But Merseybeat wasn’t the Moodies’ sound — at least after Hayward joined the band in 1966. He and bassist John Lodge came on board in time to make the album that saw The Moody Blues evolve from an R&B-based pop band into a far grander style of pop-rock — 1967’s “Days of Future Passed.” Featuring the aforementioned “Nights in White Satin,” the album is considered by many the first progressive rock album, and its lush, melodic and expansive songs gave The Moody Blues a stylistic template from which to build.
Hayward said “Nights in White Satin” was originally a fairly modest song.
“I was at the end of a love affair and starting another one,” he said. “I was 19-20 years and I just had this simple song. They didn’t think much of it when I played it. Then (keyboardist) Mike Pinder, who had one of the first mellotrons, said, ’Play it, again.’ He played it with me and there it was.”
”Nights in White Satin” didn’t connect when “Days of Future Passed” was released in 1967. But when it was rereleased five years later, that was a different story, as the soaring ballad reached No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s singles chart.
By that time, The Moodies had released six more albums, establishing themselves as a true classic rock band — with their inclusion of classical music concepts in their sound.
A half-dozen albums followed, including the band’s first top 20 album in the United States, 1969’s “On the Threshold of a Dream” and a second 1969 album, “To Our Children’s Children’s Children” and the 1972 chart-topping album, “Seventh Sojourn,” which featured the hits “Isn’t Life Strange” and “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band).” All firmly established The Moody Blues as a force on the rock scene.
The band then took a hiatus that stretched on for six years.
During that period, Hayward and Lodge teamed up to release the 1975 album “Blue Jays,” after which Hayward released his first solo effort, 1977’s “Songwriter.” When The Moody Blues returned in 1978 with the album “Octave,” the group had a new keyboardist in Patrick Moraz, who stepped in for the departing Pinder.
And while “Octave” featured the hit single “Steppin’ In A Slide Zone,” the band members have frequently said the ensemble didn’t really hit its stride artistically again until the 1981 album “Long Distance Voyager.” The 1980s saw three more studio albums and hit songs like “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” before the pace of studio recordings slowed in the 1990s.
“People think the ’60s were our best time,” Hayward said. “But, to be honest, the most fun was that time in the ’80s — to have that opportunity to be on TV and have all the times of having hit singles in your early 40s. I was a kid in the ’60s, with my head down and a little too stoned. In the ’80s, I was able to enjoy it. Believe it or not, a lot of our audience today came from that time, not the ’60s.”
Today, Hayward, Lodge, who penned “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” and drummer Graeme Edge, who has been with the band from the beginning, make up The Moody Blues.
And if the group’s recording days are over, that probably means Hayward will pick up the pace on making solo albums.
He has released four solo albums since “Songwriter” — “Night Flight” (1980), “Moving Mountains” (1985), “The View from the Hill” (1996) and “Spirits of the Western Sky” (2013) — and just put out “All The Way,” a compilation of solo and Moody Blues tracks.
“Nights in White Satin,” however, has ensured that Hayward will continue to have a large audience for as long as he continues to play, either with the Moodies or solo. He wouldn’t have guessed that when he wrote the song.
If he had, The Moody Blues singer and guitarist says “I would have run a mile if you’d have told me what would happen. I would have been scared."
WHAT: The Moody Blues
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday (10/25)
TICKETS: $75 to $125, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
ARTISTS’ WEBSITE: moodybluestoday.com/