Minus the Moodies

Nevertheless, John Lodge remains a singer in a Rock & Roll band

John Lodge (Art: Ron Hart)

All good things must eventually come to an end… or in the case of the Moody Blues, a venerable band with a 55 year history, they often reach an uncertain conclusion.

Granted, it’s been number of years since the last Moodies album, but the fact that three seminal members — singer/guitarist Justin Hayward, vocalist/bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge — continued to tour and present a Moody Blues Cruise for four years running gave fans hope that the band would persevere, if for no other reason, than in name only. The band was a brand after all, and for the time being at least, they seemed intent on keeping it intact.

Last year, hopes were dashed to a great degree when Hayward opted to continue the cruise alone last year, changing the name to On the Blue. He continued to tour solo and release records, seemingly intent on pursuing his muse rather than the Moodies’. Edge retired, which left Lodge in the lurch. However he hasn’t been idle. He’s recorded two albums with his 10000 Light Year Band — including his latest, B Yond — The Very Best Of, made a special guest appearance on the recent 70s Rock and Romance Cruise, and had begun a tour which, of course, was then abruptly interrupted by the pandemic.

John Lodge B Yond: The Very Best Of, BMG 2020

“It’s my music,” Lodge said, speaking to Rock & Roll Globe on the aforementioned Rock and Romance Cruise.“I want to share my music. It’s been a big part of my life since I was in my teens. I’m not going to let it go now. I’m still having fun. When I started playing at the age of 17 or 18, I told someone, ‘After college, I’m going to do this full-time.’ And I was told ‘Rock and roll is for kids.’ I find it really interesting. You can’t replicate what came before.”

Indeed, his cruise performances affirmed the fact that his contributions to the Moody Blues were as vital to the band’s catalogue.

“The shows have been fabulous,” he said. “We’re all here for one reason only. I say it on stage — we’re all just singers in a rock and roll band…since I wrote the songs, hopefully I remember the words.”

That song that he refers to became a staple in the Moodies’ repertoire, along with such other iconic Lodge compositions as “Peak Hour,” “(Evening) Time to Get Away,” “Ride My See-Saw,” House of Four Doors,” “Eyes of a Child,” “Send Me No Wine,” “Isn’t Life Strange,” and “Stepping in a Slide Zone.”

Prior to his work with his new band, Lodge only had a single solo album to his credit, 1977’s Natural Avenue. He and Hayward also released a duo album under the aegis of the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that his contributions to the Moodies are still a source of pride.“It’s really satisfying,” he insists. “The audience still relates to it. People tell me it became the music of their lives. I understand their feelings. When we started out, we wanted to be really truthful with our songs and our lyrics. You’ve got to be truthful in the way you can relate to people. Now it’s 50 years later and that connection lasts.”

Clearly he hasn’t neglected that commitment, albeit under the heading of the 10,000 Light Years Band. In fact, he has a history with many of the musicians. Billy Ashbaugh was the second drummer in the Moody Blues touring band. He’s known keyboard player Alan Hewitt 40 years, and he too was part of the Moodies’ touring ensemble. Guitarist Duffy King and cellist Jason Charboneau are newer additions to the band, but regardless, they clearly fit in seamlessly.

“I told them, ‘Just play,” Lodge says of their initial encounters. “If you go to rehearsals and work out your role, it’s going to be alright. Mostly, just play what you feel.’ That’s what they do.”

John Lodge of the Magnicifent Moodies (Art: Ron Hart)

Naturally, the question about the future of the Moody Blues always looms large. However, Lodge insists he knows no more than the fans at this point.

“I never take anything for granted,” he responds when asked that obvious question. “Everybody’s keeping the faith, and I’m grateful to the fans for that.”

Nevertheless, Lodge maintains that he’s not necessarily a nostalgic type of individual and for now at lease, he’s looking forward rather than backwards.

“I’m always looking towards the future,” he suggests. “My new album is called B Yond. So while the Moody Blues will always be my ‘A’ project, my ‘B’ project will continue to be John Lodge.”

 

 

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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

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