As a new tour begins, Justin Hayward hails 2013’s Moody Blues: ‘This is the best version’

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Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues kicked off another series of concert dates last night, and he’s making the case for their current lineup as the best ever. That’s saying something for a band that started in 1964. “Because we’re left with the three guys who really want to do it on the road, who want to enjoy that and enjoy discovering the Moodies music, as well,” Hayward told us in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown.

Hayward, who has fronted the Moody Blues since 1966, is joined by a core group that includes founder Graeme Edge (on drums since ’64) and bassist John Lodge — who, like Hayward, arrived two years later. Original flautist Ray Thomas was the most recent departure, leaving in 2002. Founding bassist Clint Warwick passed in 2004. Over the years, keyboardist Mike Pinder and Patrick Moraz have come and gone. Denny Laine, later of Wings fame, was also an early member.

How do Hayward, Lodge and Edge remain stalwart? Hayward says they are constantly rejuvenated by the group’s very longevity. A shared history continues to provide new insights.

“We had a chat on the bus, a couple of years ago, and we said: ‘Let’s think of all of those songs that we only ever played for an afternoon, or one day when we were recording them in the early years, and then we left them behind,'” Hayward tells us. “We started rediscovering some of our own stuff, some of the vast catalog that’s we’ve got. That’s what the three of us like to do now, to really look back into the Moodies catalog and see what we were up to.”

The Moody Blues began their latest tour together overnight at Oxford, UK. Hayward, who released the well-received Spirits of the Western Sky earlier this year, also has a series of U.S. dates planned beginning in August.

“I think, there’s no doubt, this is the best version of the Moody Blues that I’ve been in, the best incarnation of it,” he says. “It’s more true to the music, and everyone on stage really feels it — and wants to deliver it right. It’s very, very nice and enjoyable.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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  • Dw Dunphy

    It’s a ludicrous statement for sure, but honestly what could he say? Oh, this lineup is just getting by? It’s forever the trap of the band whose years triple that of most of the others on the circuit. You can’t really admit you’re disadvantaged in any way. It’s a little like the band that shouts to the audience, “You’re the best audience in the world!” It’s easier to swallow than, “Good Lord, this town is a sewer.”

    • Carole

      I have seen the Moody Blues on every UK tour since 1981,and although they do miss Ray Thomas and his songs, the current line up with the original three, Norda Mullen on flute, Gordy Marshall on drums, Alan Hewitt on Keyboards and Julie Ragins on backing vocals IS the best ever!

      Looking forward to seeing them at Newcastle City Hall on Tuesday 11 June 2013!

  • Colin Jeffery

    If the band is really clicking together and enjoying the music of the moment then i can understand Justin saying that it feels like the best incarnation of the band. It feels and sounds a bit like a very proud grandparent enjoying playing with the grandchildren and reliving the youthful exhuberence that only time and life experience can give you. I know as a grand parent how it feels. As a songwriter i feel that my songs are like my children and i cherish each and every one with all their characters and wonderful snap shot memories like old photos of times in my life captured for posterity. I really hope Justin looks at the back catalogue and has fond memories and yearnings as i would to play the songs of the other children no longer able or willing to undergo the strains and stresses of the touring Rock’n’Roll lifestyle. Live for today but always cherish and understand all the sacrifices made and reasons given both personal and collectively that have lead to the bands current flourishing healthiness and happiness. How i long to hear Mike and Rays songs performed live by the band, but alas i know this probably couldn’t happen so i just hope that one day maybe a new generation of musicians will understand the music enough to perform it with the same passion the band has always had. True memorable and classy music, like the Moodies catalogue, passes through generations. It may be way beyond our lifetimes but i really believe there is a longevity to the music that will talk to future generations just like the Classics of Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Wagner, Debussy, Gershwin etc.