Classic Rock Corner

Moody Blues Have Little To "Lament" In Nearly 50-Year Career

Since their 1964 origin, England's the Moody Blues have combined lush, orchestral pop with more rock-edged material to score hits like "Go Now," "Tuesday Afternoon," "Ride My See-Saw," "Question," "The Story in Your Eyes" and, of course, "Nights in White Satin." And save a three-year hiatus in the '70s, the band has toured and recorded consistently, both on its own and with orchestras worldwide.

The Moodys' core trio of original member Graeme Edge (drums), and classic lineuppers Justin Hayward (vocals/guitar) and John Lodge (bass/vocals) will be augmented by five other musicians for their current tour. In Houston, the band is also offering a pre-show intimate "Storytellers Experience" and backstage tour with the purchase of a VIP ticket package.

Rocks Off spoke with Edge - who wrote the famous "Late Lament" spoken-word poem recited during "Nights in White Satin" ("Breathe deep, the gathering gloom/ Watch lights fade from every room") - about the song's longevity, the band's first drive through Texas, and why he's known at family dinners as "Grandpa Drums."

Rocks Off: So in high school, I memorized "Late Lament" and would break it out occasionally to show girls that I was deep and could hopefully get laid. It never worked.

GE: Well, they probably got the wrong idea that you were sensitive. Maybe you should have just sang the song!

RO: You wrote the poem, so why did keyboardist Mike Pinder recite it on record?

GE: At the time, he had consumed a lot more cigarettes and whiskey then I had, so he had the better voice for that!

RO: You just turned 70 a few weeks ago. Did you have any idea when the band started that you'd still be on the road well past pensioner age?

GE: Hell, I didn't think I'd be on the road after 30 (laughs). At that time, nobody over that age... or even 25... even listened to rock and roll. But we hadn't thought that our fans would grow old with us.

RO: I understand that your version of "Nights in White Satin" just hit the charts in England for the fourth time since its release, because a contestant on "the X Factor" sang it. At what point did you really know that this song was going to be huge?

GE: Actually, before we recorded it when it was in rehearsal. At that time, the BBC required so much live music be played on the airwaves because of the musician's union. We did an acoustic version for them with the backing vocals but without the strings. And when we were listening to it back in the booth, we all kind of looked at each other and said, "Now we've got something there!"

We felt that even more when we did the real version. Oddly enough, it didn't do that well as a single when it came out. Later, radio stations in the U.S. started playing it, and it just took off from there.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero