Graeme Edge on drums, Denny Laine on guitar, Mike Pinder on keyboards, Ray Thomas on various instruments, and Clint Warwick on bass made up a group that first appeared in Birmingham, England in 1964. As a nod to the Duke Ellington song Mood Indigo, the band was using either The M Bs or The M B Five as their name. Since they were playing blues, that was eventually turned into the Moody Blues.
The band began recording singles in 1964. After their first single failed to chart, they recorded a promotional video to promote their second single. The single, Go Now, reached #1 in the UK and #10 on the Hot 100 in the US. Two more singles reached the bottom half of the UK top forty in 1965 without even approaching the US Hot 100. The next few singles failed to chart even in the UK. Clint left the group and abandoned his musical career in 1966 and Rod Clark briefly replaced him. Denny Laine left the group soon after and bounced around through several other groups before joining Paul McCartney in Wings in 1971. Rod left the group to join the Rocking Berries.
Thanks to a referral from Eric Burdon of the Animals, Justin Hayward replaced Denny in the group. John Lodge had finished school and finally got to join the group as well. The new line-up abandoned their old style of blues and novelty records and started recording songs that fit a more rock-and-roll format. They released several more singles with no charting results.
Their record company money had advanced them money for a second album that never materialized. The group agreed to record a rock-and-roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. The record label planned to use the new recording to promote their new stereo sound. The project failed when the group instead took a stage show they had been working on and added orchestral music to that. Mike began extensive use of a mellotron on their recordings, leading to a more symphonic sound. The group got permission to switch plans and reassembled their songs with new orchestral music and produced their new album, Days Of Future Passed. The album contained the 1967 single Nights in White Satin. The single reached #19 in the UK and went nowhere in the US. They then released Tuesday Afternoon in 1968 and that single failed to chart.
The Moodies were simply ahead of their time, but fortunately, their record label believed in their work. Several other popular albums followed, and the reissue of Nights In White Satin in 1972 reached the top ten in the UK, #2 on the US Hot 100, and topped the Mainstream Rock chart. The album eventually earned a platinum record in the US.
The group went on an exhausting tour with the group Asia in 1974. After that, the members began work on other projects as the group took a three-year break.
The group reunited in 1977 and recorded a new album, but Mike declined to tour in support of the album. The group Yes forced Patrick Moraz out of their group, and the Moody Blues recruited him to replace Mike on the road. Patrick became a permanent replacement after Mike left the group. Several more successful albums followed over the next decade.
The group’s music became more commercial and less progressive over time. They recorded Wildest Dreams in 1986. The video won the Video of the Year award from MTV. The single was only their second top ten record on the Hot 100. It also reached #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and topped the Adult Contemporary chart.
Given the strong response to the video, it was not too surprising when the group shot a second video that picked up and completed the story in 1988. It’s best to watch the two videos back to back. I Know You’re Out There Somewhere brought back actors and an actress from the first video and replaced the original melancholy ending with a potentially happy ending. The single only reached #30 on the Hot 100, but again reached #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and peaked at #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was the group’s last visit to the Hot 100.
Ray retired from the group in 2002 and the remaining three members recruited other musicians to allow them to tour and record.
The Moody Blues were finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.