John Lodge of The Moody Blues

An interview with John Lodge
by Tommy Rage
November 2019

John Lodge of the Moody Blues

John Lodge of the Moody Blues

Art rock. A cornerstone of the 60’s and 70’s, Art rock paved the way to other subgenres such as Prog rock and Classic rock. Although Art rock may not have had a lasting hold on the music industry; what it left behind was undeniably filled with talent. Such was the case of the small band out of Birmingham, England known as The Moody Blues. Founded in 1964, the band grew to be known with the talented line-up of keyboardist Mike Pinder, multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, guitarist Justin Hayward, drummer Graeme Edge, and singer/bassist John Lodge.

With this line-up, the prolific song-writing of John Lodge helped create some of The Moody Blue’s best known songs, such as: “Gemini Dream”, “Isn’t Life Strange”, “Ride My See-Saw”, and “I’m Just a Singer” (which won him an ASCAP song-writing award). Accompanying his greatest hits album: B Yond – The Very Best of John Lodge, along with his upcoming live show at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino on November 13th, John shares how much he still enjoys going out and preforming live for fans. “Ever since rock and roll took ahold of me, I enjoy getting on stage and performing. I play every day. Any chance I get. Whether it’s with other artists or my own band, ‘The 10,000 Light Year Band’. I just enjoy it. When you write a song, it’s wonderful to perform that song in front of people and see their reaction. I’m just a guy in a rock n’ roll band, and the audience is the singer in the rock n’ rock band [laughter].”

“Street Café”, the first single on B Yond – The Very Best of John Lodge, has a bit of history to it, explains the legendary bassist. “It was a song I originally wrote 20 years ago; I think [laughter]. I only released it in the U.K. When I was putting this album together, I thought it would be really great to revisit that one, and re-record it with some new energy. So, I went back into the studio with my original Fender Precision Bass and re-recorded “Street Café”, and I’m really excited about it. It sounds tremendous.”

With 12 full tracks, including five live songs, along with two new remixes, and three new recordings, John shares what it was like to revisit some of his personal favorites from his solo career and his time with The Moody Blues. “I looked at it as though it was an album that when it starts, and when it ends, you’ve taken a passenger on a journey. That’s how I looked at it. So, I tried to put the songs together that would take you through a beautiful journey through your mind or through your emotions.” 

The history of The Moody Blues dates back to the 1960’s, and with the psychedelic-art rock sound, it carried the band well into the 70’s and 80’s. With an extensive fan base and over 10 million albums sold, John looks back fondly to where it all began for him and The Moody Blues. “I started in 1966, since then we’ve made 16 or 18 albums and it’s just been an incredible musical journey. Not only through the music, but through places around the world. I’ve been to places I would have never ever dreamed of as a young person. I got my first guitar when I was 13, and my first bass when I was 15, and it’s just become an incredible journey. We’ve made so many great records and CDs, with an incredible fan base. The amount of people that have stayed with us since day one, and young people that have joined us along that journey through the years. It’s been an amazing time for me.”

Having last toured as a full group in 2015, the band has been on hiatus since the passing of original vocalist and flautist Ray Thomas, who passed just a few months before the band was due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Now taking his most noted Moody Blues songs back out on the road, John talks about his excitement to know that people are still listening to records. “People now are starting to listen to records again, and young people are buying records. You can listen to them with your ear buds and talk about the whole album. You can put the needle in the slot now and listen to it on 180-gram vinyl….That’s what I did on this record. When you open it, you only have the painting on the inside. No writing, nothing at all, just the painting. I thought, the listener would love to look at the sleeve while the record is playing.” 

Perhaps it’s John’s dedication to both his days in The Moody Blues as well as his newest release, B Yond – The Very Best of John Lodge, that has kept the 74-year-old rocker young. He recalls his days with The Moody Blues, and has both fond memories as well as a treasured souvenir. “It was an exciting time. The five guys in The Moody Blues, we would sit down in the studio, around a small coffee table and it would just be us around this table. If you had written a song, you would perform the song for the other guys around the table, everyone would then say ‘I can do this’ or ‘I can add this’, and at that point, it was no longer your song; it was a Moody Blues song. Everyone would contribute. We would talk about it and make all our songs that way. I still got the [coffee] table. Its safety put away in storage, because if it could talk; it’s got some incredible stories [laughter].”

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