‘We were very lucky to have them’: Justin Hayward discusses the Beatles’ influence on the Moody Blues

The Moody Blues have been inextricably linked to the Beatles since the 1960s — and not just because Denny Laine eventually became a cornerstone of Paul McCartney’s solo band Wings. For Justin Hayward, “Love Me Do” was a big-bang moment.

“All I know is, when I heard ‘Love Me Do’ on the radio, I remember walking down the street and knowing my life was going to be completely different, because the Beatles were in it,” Hayward tells Sammy Sultan, in the attached video. “You could just tell from that one record. It was something special and something magical. … There was no envy or anything like that. They were our leaders, and we were very lucky to have them.”

The Moodies were also working on their triumphal song cycle Days of Future Passed during the same period as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, two albums that inarguably gave rise to the prog revolution to come in the next decade.

Laine, of course, had been the Moody Blues’ frontman in the mid-1960s, in a period in which they focused on R&B-soaked tracks like “Go Now” — later a staple of concerts with Wings, as well. Laine’s departure opened up the Moodies’ focus toward other musical avenues, Hayward adds.

“Although the band started out as a rhythm and blues band — and a really good one — when Denny left, he took that rhythm and blues feel with him,” Hayward says. “He was really good at it, and he was the voice of it. He had that character. When he left, I think me and the guy who were left, we realized we didn’t have that in our hearts. The guys were playing it, but it needed Denny to lead it. We weren’t being true to ourselves, singing about the problems of people in the Deep South in America. We didn’t know anything about it. We were all lower-middle class boys from around England!

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