It’s not too often that two members of the same band break away to have hits as a duo, Tony Meehan And Jet Harris from the Shadows were the first and David van Day and Thereza Bazaar aka Dollar from Guys ‘N’ Dolls have been the most successful with a total of 14 hits to their credit. Some have been one-hit-wonders like Billy Davis Jr & Marilyn McCoo and Moody Blues members Justin Hayward and John Lodge who had a one-off top ten hit in 1975 with Blue Guitar.
In 1974 the Moody Blues split up after Mike Pinder claimed exhaustion following a nine month tour of the USA. Each member concentrated on solo projects with minimal success. Graham Edge formed a new band with Adrian Gurvitz, Ray Thomas released a solo album called From Mighty Oaks which got to number 23 in the UK, Mike Pinder released an album called The Promise which missed the chart and Justin Hayward and John Lodge worked as a duo and released the top ten album Blue Jays. They also released two singles, I Dreamed Last Night which did nothing and the follow-up, Blue Guitar which reached number eight in the chart. Curiously the latter did not appear on the Blue Jays album although the B side, When You Wake Up, did.
So how did Blue Guitar come about, Justin Hayward explains, “I used to go up and stay with my friend Eric Stewart in Stockport because we were both partners in a studio up there called Strawberry in the early 70s. I’ve known Eric from when he was in the Mindbenders in the 60s and he’d recently started in a new group with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme called Hotlegs. There was one time when we spent the evening just chatting about stuff and Eric said ‘hey,
There is a day free in the studio tomorrow because someone has cancelled, has anyone got a song’. I said, I’ve got this song, I didn’t call it Blue Guitar originally I think I called it You Are (sings) ‘You are the fortune of my ways’ yeah, it was a bit naff that and of course Lol being Lol he said so and said ‘why don’t you give it a proper noun title and call it something like Blue Guitar. I went away and thought about it for a couple of hours and thought, yeah that works and so I re-wrote the lyrics that night and we went in the studio the next day and laid down the track. Eric played guitar, Kevin played drums and Lol played a slide guitar and that was that and we never thought any more about it and it sat in the tape box for about two years.”
What was always curious was how come John Lodge’s name is on the label if he is not on the song, Justin continued, “After a couple of years, John and I had made the Blue Jays album and we were looking for something to release to promote it and I remembered this track and I brought it out and played it to John and our producer Tony Clark. They liked it but thought it needed something so we took it back to our studio and John added some bass onto it and Tony mixed it in a really nice way and anyone who’s interested will notice it’s got dual production credits of 10cc and Tony Clark.” So, John Lodge is not on the first early version but was on the released single.
In 1978, Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graham Edge, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas all reconvened as the Moody Blues and although Pinder left again after a few months, they have released eight albums with varying degrees of success. In 1985 they were presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music at the 30th Annual Ivor Novello awards.
In 2002 Thomas announced his retirement and thus reduced the group to the trio they are today. John Lodge announced on his website recently that they will be touring the UK late spring 2013. He also made the appeal to the Irish, saying, ‘If you would like us to come to Ireland all it needs is the promoter.’ Subtle hint then!