By Bill Dudley
Summer is here and it’s time to spend some hot summer nights amid the chill of the Hollywood Bowl. The summer kicks off this weekend with a band that has been on the American music scene since 1965, The Moody Blues.
Wednesday evening at the Grammy Museum, I attended a special interview with and acoustic performance by Justin Hayward, who has co-written some of the band’s most memorable recordings since joining the band in 1967. “Nights In White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” and a solo effort he wrote for the 1978 reboot of War Of The Worlds narrated by Sir Richard Burton, “Forever Autumn” never sounded better.
The Moody Blues started out like many British acts in the 1960’s, by covering American R&B artists. Along with the Rolling Stones, Eric Burdon & the Animals, and the Yardbirds, the Moody Blues basically introduced middle American teenagers to the real roots of Rock and Blues they probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
The Moody Blues only had one major hit doing R&B, a bluesy cover of Bessie Banks “Go Now.” When guitarist Denny Laine left the group to pursue a career that later included playing with Paul Mc Cartney, Eric Burdon recommended Justin Hayward to join the band. This proved to be a terrific move, as Hayward, John Lodge, Mike Pinder, Grahame Edge and Ray Thomas were the first to blend Classical music with romantic Rock and Roll with the album, Days Of Future Passed. Now celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, what more perfect place for this eclectic mix to be celebrated than the Hollywood Bowl.
Shockingly, Hayward freely admitted that the album was never expected to become the iconic legendary gem that it has become, as it was only recorded to fulfill a contract with their then recording label, Decca Records of London. The Classical music by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Hayward-Lodge Rock compositions, and the celebrated poetry that bridged the gap was all written and produced separately. It took almost 5 years for Days Of Future Passed to reach it’s potential, but has since done it many times over. This led to 6 very successful followup releases, all selling over a million copies eventually.
As always, many other great artists are coming to the Hollywood Bowl this year including Lionel Richie, Lauryn Hill, Janet Jackson, Chance The Rapper, and the Playboy Jazz Festival featuring Arturo Sandoval, Marcus Miller, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Roy Ayers, Bobby Hutcherson, Lala Hathaway,and many more. Summer is here. Happy chilling at the Hollywood Bowl.