the lost chord
by Robert Silverstein
As an eleven year old kid in 1965, growing up on Long Island, I can
remember thrilling to the sounds of the early Moody Blues songs Stop
and the bands first huge hit, Go Nowa song
still spinning on oldies radio stations across the land. Stop
was just one of many great songs written by the early Moody Blues
songwriting team of Mike Pinder and Denny Laine. During those early
British invasion years, Pinder and Laine composed many memorable songs
together but sadly, it just was not to be. Mike Pinders brilliantly
expansive orchestral keyboard approach was growing by leaps and bounds
and by late 66 Laine had left the Moodies. Soon afterwards Pinderand
his Moodies mates Ray Thomas and Graeme Edgewisely enlisted
the talents of Justin Hayward and John Lodge.The difference between
the early band and the second Moodies lineup of Pinder, Thomas, Edge,
Hayward and Lodge was staggering. Following a brilliant run of ground
breaking recordings recorded between 1967 and 1973now referred
to as the Classic 7 and a tentative comeback called Octave from
1978 Pinder and producer Tony Clarke the 6th Moody,
left the fold. Despite protests and consternation from fans over the
fact that the Moody Blues without Mike Pinder just wasnt the
samethe post Classic 7 quartet lineup did remarkably
well during the 80s and deep into the 90s. Perhaps Pinder
and Clarke will never regain their stature in the band again, yet
2006 looks to be yet another watershed year in Moody Blues history.
A 2006 DVD on Image Entertainmentthe first one released since
the recent retirement of early member Ray Thomasentitled Lovely
To See You Live and the long awaited expanded edition
CD reissues of the famous Classic 7 Moodies albums on Universal will
no cast the bands revered legacy back into the limelight again.
One can only hope that Justin, John and Graeme once again realize
what an valuable asset Mike Pinder is to legendary core sound and
invite him to appear with them in the studio on a track or two again.
Until then, we still have 40+ years of classic Moody Blues music worth
a fortune in priceless musical memories. On February 20, 2006, Justin
Hayward spoke with Robert Silverstein about a wide range of Moody
RS: Justin its Robert Silverstein from 20th Century Guitar and
mwe3.com Do you have time to do the interview now?
JH: Yes absolutely. Were here waiting for you. All ready.
RS: Hows the tour going?
JH: Not bad! Glad to be out of the cold. We just did a week in the
RS: Yeah I heard the band was out in Indiana.
JH: Thats right, yeah. Its going fine. Very good, yeah.
RS: Are The Moody Blues ever not on tour? Youve been touring
consistently for the past six years.
JH: I know what you mean. Sometimes it seems like Ive never
done anything else. Weve been out on the road for six or seven
months each year for the last few years. I think thats what
people want for us. Were offered more work now than we ever
were before, strangely enough.
RS: Are there surprises on the set list? How about doing a live version
of Out And In?
JH: Oh, wouldnt that be nice. I love that song. Funny enough,
I did that song at a charity event last year. Just myself. I always
liked the song. I always liked all of Mikes songs. And I thought,
oh, Ill just do that. Cause Id always
remembered it. And I just stood there meself, with my guitar, and
did it as part of my own set. A few went, what the hell is that?
(laughter) But the ones who knew it were very pleased.
RS: My father just passed away. After hurricane Wilma in the first
week of November he fell ill and just couldnt get out of the
hospital and he passed away this past January 23.
JH: Oh dear. Im very sorry...yes. Have you still got your mum
RS: Yes were trying to bring her back to New York from Ft. Lauderdale,
but I remember when I interviewed you the first time you told me you
went through losing your father at the time when you recorded To
Our Childrens Childrens Children. Any spiritual advice
on coping with big loss of a parent? That whole album seems to hint
at reincarnation, I Never Thought Id Live To Be A Hundred
then Candle Of Life Eternity Road.
JH: Thats a heavy one, isnt it? Well nobody who hasnt
been through it understands what you are going through. I think thats
the thing. I dont know...Ive always tried to keep the
memory of my father alive and to keep his image alive in my mind.
You lose things like the voice and the expressions but as long as
I can just pass it on to my children and hopefully my childrens
children. Thats what I want to do. And to pass on the principals
and what he meant to me and those around him.
RS: The Moodies CD December, released in time for Christmas
2003, is a fine album. What prompted you to want to make a holiday
or Christmas-y kind of record?
JH: Well it was actually a guy that we were working with, doing some
projects with, called Miles Copeland, who was doing some management
things and he suggested it. At first, I thought it was a terrible
idea and then the more I thought about it, I thought maybe theres
something in it. And I went down to Italy and worked with the guys
there on a couple things that I always wanted to do. One was a song
called In The Bleak Midwinter, which is from the English
hymnal and the other one was a piece of Bach. Bach 147, that Id
kind of learned when I first started fiddlin around in groups
and things like that, but only just as a kind of...almost a jokey,
little party piece. Anyway, I started to sort of think about it seriously.
And once we put those two songs down, the bones of those two songs,
I thought it could maybe work and I was converted to the idea. And
Im very happy with the album and theres a song we do on
stage now, December Snow that I really, really love and
for that song alone I think the album was worth it. And I hope it
takes its place amongst all the other Moodies albums.
RS: It was nice that on December the group covered the Lennon...
and so this is Christmas...
JH: Yes, exactly. That was one of Miles chat up lines, was that,
hey! John Lennon did it, and Elvis did it and all these other
people, whats wrong with you doing it? So I think it was
a good kind of angle for us. At the same time I think we understand
that the biggest competitor to any record that were going to
put out, is our own catalog. Because theres so much interest
in the back catalog, particularly from Universal, who own it, that
its very difficult to try and whip up enthusiasm for new records
when all they want to do is repackage the old stuff. So anyway, thats
the way it is.
RS: Justin, what guitars are you using on the 2006 Moodies tour? Your
cherry red Gibson from 63 must be very valuable.
JH: No, I always use that. Ive not done a tour, since 1968,
without that guitar.
RS: I know Alvin Lee plays the same guitar, but he wont bring
it on the road!
JH: Yeah, thats right. He does. Yeah, I remember. I wonder if
he kept the same one?
RS: Wouldnt you be afraid to take it on the road?
JH: Well...(sigh) I love it and whats it for? Its for
doing gigs. Its the same for anybody who has those guitars.
Look at Dave Gilmours guitars, or Eric Clapton. Its the
same situation. But everybody wants those kind of guitars. I think
its the replacement. Its not so much its actual value,
its just that you couldnt find it again. You couldnt
find that. I always look but I just could not find it again.
RS: Being that youre so synonymous with the cherry red Gibson,
will there be a Justin Hayward signature guitar?
JH: In the 80s, I actually designed a guitar with Gibson that
was like a sort of smaller bodied 335 version, but solid. And they
made it for me and of course, when they made it, I realized it was
so heavy (laughter) that it was almost unusable because of the size
of it, even though it was smaller than the 335. But it had the basic
same size but solid. So it wasnt very practical. And I was a
bit of a failure as a guitar designer from then on. Its an interesting
thought but, why not? Id love to do that again.
RS: Your guitar sound is so prominent and your tone is so easily recognizable.
JH: I think a lot of that is to do with the way you play. I mean you
can give somebody the Mark Knopfler guitar and the amplifiers exactly
the same and listen to them play but they wont sound like Mark
Knopfler. Its like Hank Marvin, yknow? Ive played
that Strat that he played Apache on. Its the way
guitar players touch the guitar, the weight of the touch, all of that
kind of stuff that makes the difference. You can give somebody exactly
the same equipment but it wont sound the same.
RS: I interviewed Jim Messina last month, you know from Loggins &
RS: And he was telling me what great things Fender and Gibson are
doing with their reissues guitars and amps. And I was wondering if
theres anything new and of interest in the guitar world for
JH: Well, I like all of the Roland VG8 stuff, particularly for recording
in the studio. And a lot of the things that sound like keyboards on
the December album are actually that VG8. Thats very
handy. Whether I would take it on the road, I dont know. The
Eric Johnson Strat I love very much too. Thats brilliant. We
did a couple of tours with him, must have been in the early 80s
I think, and I was blown away by his style. And as soon as he brought
one out, I was on it to see what it sounded like. And I love that
one very much. But the best thing Ive discovered in years is
Collings. You know Collings guitars? I think theyre from Houston
or Austin. Now, I got one of those in Nashville last year and Im
almost tempted to say its the best acoustic guitar Ive
got. I mean, Ive got my old D-28, my Martin D-28 that Ive
had for years, which is wonderful, I would never part with and every
session musician covets it, when they see it. But the Collings has
got something really, really special and unique. And Im so pleased
that theres somebody making guitars of that quality right now.
RS: Which model Collings do you prefer?
JH: The one that Ive got, I got it in Gruhns guitars in Nashville.
Its just a straight forward dreadnought model. Blond, almost
white top. No real fancy stuff on it. But its exceptional.
RS: Which amps do favor live?
JH: I still use a Marshall 50 watt head with a four speaker cabinet.
Then I use a Mesa Boogie on one side of the stereo and a Fender, I
think its a pro-reverb on the other side.
RS: Which strings do you use on the Gibson?
JH: Well, on the Gibson, believe it or not, I still use Selmer strings,
which Ive used since the 60s. And when the factory closed
down in the early 70s, I bought hundreds...I bought as many
as I could find. And Im getting close to the end now. But I
still use those. Ive kept them all well and I only use maybe
two or three sets a tour.
RS: I just got an email from Mike Pinder a couple days ago
and he said, Good luck on your interview. Tell Justin I wish
him all the best with fond memories of the good times.
JH: Oh, thats very kind. And the same back to Mike. I miss
him very much and he was such a valuable part of my life. And I learned
so much from Mike and he was my hero.
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