Justin Hayward and John Lodge on The Big L
November 18, 2007
The Big L is a UK radio station located at 1395 AM, Sky Digital 0190. Their website is The Big L Online. This is a slightly paraphrased transcript of an interview with Justin Hayward and John Lodge of the Moody Blues.
Host: Justin and John joined the band in 1966. They were the "new boys." Welcome, boys!
JH: Yes, Denny sang 'Go Now' and then left! (chuckle)
JL: Then we went to Belgium and lived there and wrote a stage show, which eventually became 'Days Of Future Passed.'
H: You really were the "new boys," weren't you? What were you doing before you joined the band?
JH: I worked in an office for a few months WHILE looking for jobs in the Melody Maker. I got a job playing with Marty Wilde. It was sort of a baptism of fire and I learned many things. I joined the band at 19....it really happened very fast.
~'Sea Of Love' by Marty Wilde~
JL: I bought my first guitar at 11 and learned the three chords you're supposed to learn. I met Ray at 14, we formed a band called El Riot and the Rebels and worked together for five years. Mike Pinder joined the band. I was at college, I wanted to be an engineer and designer, a car designer. I was at college at Birmingham when Ray called and said, "Shall we get the old band together?"
H: Who were your early influences?
JH: I liked skiffle music. The first pop idol I remember from when I was a really little kid was Johnny Ray. My real hero, though, is Buddy Holly. I did his songs when I was in school. Yeah, Buddy and the Everlys.
H: Let's play some Buddy Holly. What's your favorite track?
JH: Oh, 'Peggy Sue Got Married.'
~'Peggy Sue Got Married' by Buddy Holly~
H: You enlisted the help of Peter Knight on your first album.
JH: Yes, he was really the greatest romantic string arranger of our time, at least for me. We had already written the songs, he did the orchestration between the songs. He gave us a real identity and a classic style. We used him later for our solo things.
H: In December 1970 you played Carnegie Hall.
JL: Our first time in America was in 1968, playing all kinds of psychedelic clubs and underground clubs. It was quite different from what I was used to in Birmingham. Yeah, and Carnegie. It's a beautiful venue. Actually, we also launched 'Blue Jays' at Carnegie. We didn't perform it there, we played the record from the stage.
~Voices In The Sky~
~Nights In White Satin~
H: 'Nights In White Satin' has been a chart hit three times over, in two separate decades. Lonnie Donegan owns that?
JH: Yes. It was that old "50 Percent Receipts" deal that a lot of boys in the 60s signed, which I foolishly signed. They could never get away with that now. But I've been lucky to have had so many other songs that did well. But it'll always be special. It's lovely to be on a record that's part of people's lives and means a lot to people.
H: About the hiatus in the 70s...
JH: We broke up for four years. We did solo things, I did stuff with Jeff Wayne, 'Forever Autumn' and all that. And John and I did 'Blue Jays.'
JL: It was interesting because the album was called 'Blue Jays' with Justin Hayward and John Lodge. But the name 'Blue Jays' was eventually applied to us, and we became Blue Jays.
H: What was the rest of the band doing during this time?
JH: Well, Mike was being psychedelic and inventing new religions. Ray was in bed...
H: Graeme was getting married?
JL: Graeme was sailing the world, doing what drummers do, having fun.
JH: He was hanging around with musicians.
H: I thought he got married during that time?
JH: He probably got married. We lost track!
JL: He made an album, as well. We were apart during that time, but our businesses and Threshold kept us in touch, and eventually we came back together.
H: You mentioned 'Forever Autumn'...
JH: 'Forever Autumn' was a Lego commercial, not with those lyrics, with different lyrics. I got a call out of the blue from Jeff Wayne, he said he was doing this album and he sent a demo. It was a beautiful song, I really liked it. He said, "Come on down to Advision (studio)." I did all the vocals...it was one of the easiest records I ever made. I got more involved with the album. I never dreamed it would become a hit...I didn't know who would buy it. It's taken me around the world.
H: Shall we hear a bit of it with the "Full Burton?"
JH: With the "Full Burton?" That would be nice.
~'Forever Autumn' with Richard Burton's narration~
JH: That was Richard Burton *pretending* to be my speaking voice! (chuckle)
H: You've been together for 40 years.
JH: It has been a long time. When you look at it, it seems like a whole life.
H :What keeps you together?
JH: We just love the music. We've been lucky to be in a band where nobody's told us what to do. We've been able to trust our own judgment, make our own decisions, establish our own identity, go our own way.
H: What current artists do you like?
JL: As for groups, I like Coldplay. They're just guitar, drums and a singer, which is what it's all about.
JH: I like lots of different things. I just LIKE songs. We did a festival, Milwaukee Music Fest (it was around a beer, it's the beer center of America). There was an artist there called Alison Krause who was great. So I listened to her records. Just brilliant, I would highly recommend her.
~'I Will' by Alison Krause, chosen by Justin~
H: You've had lots of million-selling albums. Where did the album titles come from?
JL: We had what we called the "magic table." It was a coffee table really, we've still got it in a closet somewhere. We'd sit around it, talk about the type of album we'd like to record, come up with a theme, derive the album, and start writing the songs. 'To Our Children's Children's Children' was about flying into space, before people went out to space, our thoughts about that.
H: How do you get everyone to "rub along" together?
JL: What's been important is, we are all our own people, with our own lifestyles, our own independence, our own persona. The Moody Blues only live when we get together. There's no contract, no paperwork that holds us together. When we write a song and perform it for the rest of the guys, we're "handing it over" to the guys. Then it becomes a Moody Blues song.
H: Let's let John pick a song. What do you close your concerts with?
JL: Our encore is 'Ride My See-Saw' and before that is 'Question.'
H: We've already done 'Question,' so we'll close with the other. Thank you for talking to us.
JH: A pleasure. Cheers!
~Ride My See-Saw~