Curiously underrated to this day, The Moody Blues deserve more credit as one of rock’s foremost innovators. From 1967 to 1972, the quintet released seven studio albums which pioneered a fusion of rock’n’roll, prog-pop and classical, creating richly symphonic pieces forged using a blend of ambition and of technology.
“We broke down a lot of barriers and introduced people to new things,” founding member Ray Thomas said. classic rock in 2013. “We had Genesis and Queen standing backstage watching us, in awe of the sounds we were making.”
They were one of the first bands to use eight-track facilities and quadraphonic sound. It was a journey into the confines of experimentation, thanks in large part to the unlimited range of the Mellotron, which keyboardist Mike Pinder introduced to occasional touring partners, the Beatles.
Commercially, the group struck gold. In a career that spanned six decades, they sold over 70 million records, enjoying dozens of international hits and a concerted string of platinum albums. They were finally inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018, the same year they decided to call it a day after Thomas died a few months earlier.
Formed in Birmingham in 1964, the Moodies signed to Decca as an R&B combo and topped the UK chart with a second single Go now !. In 1967, they had chosen the classical formation of Thomas (flute, harmonica), Pinder (keyboards), Justin Hayward (guitar), John Lodge (bass) and Graeme Edge (drums, percussion). Everyone could write and sing, resulting in diverse creativity that directly fed into the broad panorama of music.
“Each of us had a sustained level of ideas,” Pinder told us. “We listened to everything and everyone had their say. I felt like anything was possible. The release of seven albums in six years, along with a busy touring schedule at home and in the United States, inevitably took their toll.
The band went on hiatus in 1974, returning to action with the disappointing 1978 titles. Octave. But it will be the last hurray with Pinder, whose departure shortly after will spell the end of the dream team. With ex-Yesman Patrick Moraz as a replacement, they continued regardless, recording a series of random albums that grew more sporadic over the years. But by the time Thomas passed away and Edge retired in 2018, the Moodies legend was already assured.
And one to avoid…