The Moody Blues' Lost Years: Their Solo Work Remembered

The forgotten years

Between 1972 and 1977, the band split up to produce 8 solo albums
Between 1972 and 1977, the band split up to produce 8 solo albums
The haunting hit "Forever Autumn" was produced for Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds" album
The haunting hit "Forever Autumn" was produced for Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds" album

Singers in a rock and roll band

 

The Moody Blues are one of the most enduring and beloved rock bands in music history.  Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas have been performing for over 40 years, and have written some of the greatest rock/pop songs of all time.  Their catalog of hits includes Tuesday Afternoon, Question, and I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band).  The landmark first album Days of Future Passed was a masterpiece and its hit single, Nights in White Satin was #1 on Billboard three separate times.  The early success of the band dates back to an era of flower power, and it is a testament to their talent and creativity that the Moody Blues are still popular today.

After producing Seventh Sojourn in 1972, the Moody Blues took a five-year hiatus to work on solo ventures.  Band members Justin Hayward and John Lodge collaborated on an album titled Blue Jays before moving on to individual projects.  Lodge contributed Natural Avenue while Hayward came up with Songwriter and Night Flight.  Justin Hayward also worked with Jeff Wayne on the War of the Worlds album and recorded the worldwide hit, Forever Autumn.  Ray Thomas produced From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams; Graeme Edge made Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom, while former band member Mike Pinder recorded The Promise.    

The years the band spent working on solo projects were in many ways as productive as their time together.  Hayward, Thomas and Pinder in particular wrote music worthy of inclusion on a Moody Blues album.  In fact, their songs in some respects surpassed their contributions to the band.  These are the tunes that should have been Moody Blues songs, but weren’t.  These are songs that deserve to be remembered for their beauty and eloquence.

 

Moody Blues music available from Amazon.com

Forever Autumn performed by Justin Hayward

War of the Worlds

 

Justin Hayward sang what should have been the definitive Moody Blues song for Jeff Wayne and his War of the Worlds album. Forever Autumn is a haunting love song with beautiful music and lyrics. It is a song of tragedy and loss—which is all too often the nature of love. This tune so perfectly matches the Moody Blues’ style; it is easy to forget that it was actually written by Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass specifically for the War of the Worlds album. Hayward began performing Forever Autumn with the Moody Blues approximately five years ago, but Lodge and Edge usually leave the stage for this number.

 

 

Ray Thomas performs "The Last Dream"

Hope, Wishes and Dreams

 

Ray Thomas penned the lovely “The Last Dream” for his second solo album: Hopes, Wishes and Dreams. His song told the story of a man who stood outside his home, gazed out to the sea beyond the shores and reflected upon his life. He saw that life was beautiful and realized he had finally reached a point where he could appreciate its magnificence. He was accepting of himself and his past deeds—both for good and bad. In that acceptance, he was at peace with whatever came next.

 

 

Mike Pinder's "The Promise"

Mike Pinder's goal was to write this song

 

In 1976, Mike Pinder released an album called “The Promise.” It had none of the lavish orchestration found on albums produced by Hayward, Thomas and Lodge, suggesting he was about to embark on a musical path that would separate him from the rest of the band. His songs spoke of love, hope and faith but the lyrics also included references to God and religion. The spirituality of Pinder’s work lacked the psychedelic, quasi-mystical qualities more in keeping with the band’s image but remained beautiful songs that represented the culmination of Mike Pinder’s musical ambitions. The final song on the album seemed to summarize his thoughts about life, spirituality and music.  Like the album itself, it was named “The Promise.”

 

Solo Works

by Justin Hayward and John Lodge
by Justin Hayward and John Lodge
by Ray Thomas
by Ray Thomas
by Michael Pinder
by Michael Pinder

Blue Jays and more

 

Justin, John, Ray, Mike and Graeme recorded many other fine songs during their hiatus. These are a few of my favorites, and any fan of the Moody Blues would enjoy listening to these wonderful compositions.

Nights, Winters, Years by Justin Hayward (Blue Jays). This song is about living a life without love. The promise of passion is almost enough, but not quite.

Maybe by John Lodge (Blue Jays). Peter Knight, who worked with the Moody Blues on Days of Future Passed, returned to provide orchestration for both this track and Nights, Winters, Years.

You’ll Make it Through by Mike Pinder (the Promise). Pinder wrote a song of hope, imploring us to remain optimistic and rely on each other during difficult times.

“Didn’t I” by Ray Thomas (Hopes, Wishes and Dreams). This is a song lamenting the unexpected loss of love. Thomas’ vocals are magnificent and one can almost hear the anguish in the wailing sounds emanating from the orchestra.

Wish We Could Fly by Ray Thomas (From Mighty Oaks). Wish We Could Fly is another powerful song from Thomas’ first solo album. Thomas is a master of crafting fanciful lyrics, and this song is wonderful in its evocative imagery.

When the Moody Blues split in 1972, no one knew that Mike Pinder would only contribute to one more album upon their reunion. The group resumed recording together in 1978 with Octave—the Moody Blues’ last album with Pinder as an active band member. Three years later they gained a new generation of fans with the release of Long Distance Voyager. Patrick Moraz of Yes fame replaced the departed Mike Pinder on keyboards. Moraz didn’t contribute to songwriting or vocals, but he brought energy to the band that had been lacking. After nearly a decade with the band, Moraz also left to work on other projects.

In 2002, Ray Thomas retired and was replaced by Norda Mullen, a young woman from America who previously played with Baju Rang. Thomas’ songs were lost to their live performances with his resignation from the band, but Mullen was outstanding on the flute and faithful to the music. Over the years Paul Bliss, Gordon Marshall and Bernie Barlow were also hired to provide musical support. In 2003 the Moody Blues released the latest recording of new material—a collection of new and classic Christmas tunes called December. Among the original music recorded for this album was a beautiful song titled December Snow.

No new music is forthcoming, but the Moody Blues still tour the United States and England. Their hair is gray now and a few more lines crease their faces, but the band and their music continue to touch new and old fans alike. The music they crafted while the band was on hiatus deserves to be a part of their musical legacy. Then, and now, they’re singers in a rock and roll band.

 

Comments 34 comments

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Reminds me of picking cotton as a child. I heard them singing the "Blues" from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. It was mostly characterized by specific chord progressions—the twelve-bar blues chord progressions being the most common—and the blue notes. The "Blues" made good church music! Great hub.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

I can tell from reading your Hubs, that you love music. It's interesting to read about the Moody Blues. I enjoyed it.

Thanks and Best wishes. :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Dallas, thanks for reading. The Moody Blues had their roots as an R&B band, although they eventually changed their style and reverted to progressive rock. I am a huge fan of the blues and enjoy its style and rhythms tremendously. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your comments.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Elena! Yes, I love music very much--it has always been an integral part of my life. The Moody Blues especially so. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you had time to listen to a song or two. Have a good weekend.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Ok Mike, Fess up. Do you have an extensive Moody Blues collection?

Ahhh Tuesday..Afternoon...I'm just begining to see, now I'm on my way, It doesn't matter to me chasing the clouds away.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, I will admit it: if they put it out, I bought it. I've even been known to buy alternate covers. I have over a dozen DVDs of them performing, and I have about 120 CDs by the Moody Blues as a group, individually, and by other artists where a member might have contributed writing, vocals or music. If it has anything to do with these guys, I want to own it.

So, yeah... I guess I kinda like their music. (What, you mean you could tell...? Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


thirdmillenium profile image

thirdmillenium 6 years ago from Here, There, Everywhere

Such detailed essay filled with passion! Thanks.

I do not know why but I always felt Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale and Moody Blue's Nights in White Satin had a striking similarity. Is it really the case?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

thirdmillenium, thanks for stopping by. I have always thought there were similarities between "Nights in White Satin" and "Whiter Shade of Pale." The songs are structured similarly and, while they might not sound much the same because the singers have distinctive and different voices, they are similar in feel.

Whether there is anything to suggest intentional similarities, such as one songwriter copying another's work (such as "My Sweet Lord" being found to be similar enough to "She's So Fine" that George Harrison was fined as the result of a court case), I couldn't say. I have never heard anything to that effect.

Thanks for an interesting observation, I appreciate it.

Mike


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Great Hub, I enjoyed the American Bandstand video - seeing the classics on live television is always cool.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

John, thanks for reading. I wished the American Bandstand video was a little clearer, but I liked it, also. I also thought Dick Clark's questions for Justin Hayward and his responses about the status of the band were interesting.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Teddletonmr profile image

Teddletonmr 6 years ago from Midwest USA

Great hub Mike, thanks for the videos, and the trip back in time to years gone by. hub up.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Awesome job! I told you they were one of my favorite groups - did you write this just for me?? lol


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Memories, thanks so much for the memories!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Teddletonmr, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the videos. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Habee! Yup, just for you! lol Actually, I remembered you liked the Moody Blues and hoped you would stop by--glad to see you here! I was playing some of their solo stuff and I thought it would make for an interesting hub. They did some great stuff during that time.

Glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed the songs. Take care!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Mysterylady, I'm glad you stopped by. These songs bring back wonderful memories for me, as well. Glad you enjoyed the music--then and now.

Mike


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

WONDERFUL! Mike, These solo pieces really do put me in the mind of the Moody Blues. Thanks for the amazing hub on an amazing-now grey haired-band! :)


Just A Voice 6 years ago

I have to admit my own love of "Nights in White Satin" Don't know what it is about that song, but I love it's haunting melody. Makes me want to sit in the soft glow of candle light, swaying to the music, and remembering times past.

Great hub Mike :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

lorlie, thanks for stopping by. I loved the work the band did on their own, and it adds a lot to their accomplishments that should be remembered.

They are a little gray now, but they're still singing some fine music. Thanks again.

Mike


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Good stuff Mike! Great hub and I love their stuff. I wasn't familiar with these songs.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Voice, thanks for reading. I was doing exactly that a few nights ago--sitting in a dimly lit room and listening to songs that took me back a long way. It had been a long time since I had listened to the music, and it felt nice. Nights in White Satin is such an amazing song, and it still holds my attention when I hear it, even after all these years.

Hope you're doing well these days, and thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Micky, thanks for reading. You slid in while I was responding to Voice's comments. I'm glad you liked the music--it was great stuff they did on their own. Playing a bunch of solo stuff at once feels like I'm listening to a new Moody Blues album in a weird kind of way. I'm glad you enjoyed the songs. Hope you had a good weekend, my friend.

Mike


Justin Fan 1 6 years ago

Thank you for such a great article on The Moody Blues!! I have to agree with everything you said, including how great the individual albums were. However, as much as I love *Forever Autumn*, and as silly as some people think it sounds, *Nights in White Satin* will always remain my favorite song in the whole world. I loved it the first time and I heard it and Justin can still make me cry when I hear him sing it (especially in person). I was fortunate to attend six concerts during the spring tour and will be at two more concerts during their current summer tour. You can never get enough of that wonderful Moody stuff!! LOL!! As long as the Moodies rock on, we fans will go to their concerts, no matter where they are!!!

a/k/a Arline in Florida


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Justin Fan (Arline), thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment. Nights in White Satin is still one of my favorite songs ever, as well--I certainly don't feel it's silly to love this song.

I envy your ability to get to their concerts so frequently. I've managed to see them when they come to the Midwest, but that has been far less often than they used to pass through. I've been seeing them perform since 1978 when they reformed, and it is still a joy.

Thanks again, and come back any time. Any fan of the Moody Blues is a friend and kindred spirit in my book.

Mike


randslam profile image

randslam 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

Hey Mike, thanks for the great retrospective of a band that really played some signifigance for me while in my late teens and early twenties.

Remember The War of the Worlds musical way back in the day? Justin Hayward sang a song called Forever Autumn on the sound track, Hayward being a member of the 'Blues.'

You might get a kick out of it if you've never heard it--http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO9Qx7Kp_I8


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Randslam, thanks for stopping by. I love "Forever Autumn" and the War of the Worlds music. It was a tremendous album that not only had great music by Justin Hayward, but narration by Richard Burton, as well. It is a big part of Justin Hayward's musical legacy, and a tremendous song, as well.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

I can't remember the last time I thought about the Moody Blues............ thanks for the memory; this was fun! Kaie


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kaie, thanks for stopping by. I hope you had a chance to listen to a song or two. Glad you enjoyed the look back. Thanks again.

Mike


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

Great hub and congrats on the 100! Doubt I am ever gonna see it, seem my mind jumps around too much, but its fun and as long as I stay in the 90's I'm pretty OK with it. I am sure you have been here plenty, 100 I mean. You seem to know what you're doing and I either play around or get too serious, guess I need an in between. Polly


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hey, Polly, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the kind words about both this hub and the 100 score. Don't count yourself out too quickly--I just write about whatever interests me at the moment--I have to confess I don't worry a great deal about how I come across. I also don't live and breathe for SEO, either. At any rate, lots of folks enjoy your writing, as well.

Thanks for the kind words, though--I really do appreciate them. Take care.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Fantastic tribute to a great band. Thanks Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, thanks for your kind words. The Moody Blues are my favorite, and I enjoy their music very much.

Thanks again.

Mike


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

Nice hub Mike. Did you hear about how Ray Thomas has released a new solo album in 2010.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sweetie Pie, no, I had not heard! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention, as I will certainly want to acquire it. I greatly appreciate your let me know about this. Thanks so much, and take care.

Mike

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