The year 1966 was a pivotal moment for the Moody Blues.
That's when bassist John Lodge and guitarist Justin Hayward joined the band and changed its direction dramatically. Abandoning the blues and R&B standards that had been the group's stock in trade since its formation, Lodge and Hayward pushed for a sound that was distinctly British.
"For me, I thought it was very difficult to sing about the blues from the Delta when I'd never even been to America," Lodge recalls. "There was no affinity there really. In England, at that time, there were so many bands doing cover versions of everything. So I suggested that we just ignore all that and get rid of the suits we wore on stage, get rid of everything, and become who we were."
Who Lodge and the Moody Blues were -- or more precisely who they became -- qualified them as one of Britain's most imaginative ensembles, one whose penchant for creative concepts and psychedelic sensibilities began with Days of Future Past, an album that ranks alongside the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper, King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, the Who's Tommy, and other game-changing standard bearers of late-'60s British Rock.
Looking back, Lodge insists he's not nostalgic. "As a musician you're always standing in wonderment anyway," he muses. "But no, I'm not a nostalgic person. If I was, I would have written a book about the Moodies, and autobiography. I don't really like looking over my shoulder at all. I could live my whole life that way. It's always tomorrow for me, always tomorrow.
"I love music as much as I did when I was 16. I play every day. I write every day. Sometimes things pop up and you go, 'Oh yeah. That was pretty cool.' But it was then, and it's just part of who I am as a musician and who we are as the Moody Blues. It's kind interesting to look back, especially when people show you pictures from a particular time. Yeah, that was me! But what can you do? I have a motto. The future is always in reach, but the past is gone forever."
Sadly though, in these days of future past, there isn't any plan for a new Moody Blues album, at least not any time soon. "We're actually in touring mode at the moment and we have been the last few years, it seems," Lodge explains. "We've been traveling around the world. I think we have 70 concerts scheduled this year and we've also started planning for 2015.
"However, I would like to get into the studio to make a new album, or at least an EP. The problem today is that the record industry is not what it was. It's rather frustrating to make a record and you know it's not really going to be out there on the airwaves or in the world. It isn't like it was. Perhaps independent record companies can start up the same way they did in the '60s and regenerate things. I hope so, because I love music, I love listening to it and there's very little opportunity to hear music these days, especially for artists that are playing the songs and actually playing all the instruments and giving you joy at what they're doing. Most of the records today sound completely over produced."
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Lodge should know. After all, the Moodies help take music into an entirely new direction. Nevertheless, Lodge insists that the shift in sound was a matter of necessity. "We all knew it was going nowhere. We got some new songs together and it became a matter of let's pursue this, let's just ride it out and be totally different. Let's just be ourselves. We've copied everyone else. Now let's do some "English Blues," some English things and make it about us. And that was the best thing we ever did, because Days of Future Past came out of that.
The Moody Blues. Thursday, March 27. Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $55 to $300 plus fees via arshtcenter.org. Call 305-949-6722 or visit arshtcenter.org.
The Moody Blues Cruise: Return to the Isle of Wight. With the Who's Roger Daltrey, the Zombies, ELP's Carl Palmer, Little River Band, and others. Wednesday to Monday, April 2 to 7. MSC Divina, boarding at Port of Miami, 1015 N. America Way, Miami. Sailing to Grand Turk Island and Nassau, Bahamas. Visit moodiescruise.com.