Moody Blues’ John Lodge Recalls Dawn of Prog-Rock: Interview
The Moody Blues have been recognized as pioneers in the world of prog-rock, earning praise from generations of musicians as well as enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Over the summer, the group’s bassist and vocalist, John Lodge, performed solo sets alongside Carl Palmer’s Emerson, Lake and Palmer tribute, Asia, Arthur Brown and Yes as part of the Royal Affair tour. The experience brought to mind many of Lodge’s memories regarding prog-rock’s earliest sparks.
“I first met [Yes] in the early ‘70s, and I think we did some concerts together. But those days, it’s gone a bit hazy,” Lodge laughs during a conversation with UCR. “I’m never too sure whether we did the concerts together or I just went along and watched the band and stood onstage and listened to the band with Chris Squire and Steve [Howe] and everyone at that time.”
Foggy memories aside, Lodge fondly recalls the excitement surrounding similarly minded acts in the late '60s. “It was just a great time," he says. "We were all sort of progressing our music in a way that was different to AM music. We were going somewhere different and for me, it was really interesting to listen to Yes and to see how far they had stretched their musical adaptation of their music and what they saw as rock 'n' roll.”
Focusing on his mention of “rock 'n' roll,” Lodge notes that he and his fellow U.K. artists drew inspiration from the music that they were hearing from the U.S. and developed “this British-ness of British rock,” which, he says, evolved into progressive rock.
Looking back now at the music that was being made by Lodge and the Moody Blues -- along with their peers like Yes, Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and others -- it’s astounding to think about the creative trails they were blazing. Perhaps most impressive was their ability to move with the evolution of technology, which was, at times, developing moment-by-moment as they were making albums.
“We just thought, how far can we push this? I think at the time, the technology was coming along as well, which was really good for us,” Lodge admits. “When we did [1967's] Days of Future Passed, we recorded that album on four tracks. Okay, we had a couple of four-track machines, but it was done on four tracks. In Search of the Lost Chord [from 1968], the last vocal sessions were “Ride My See-Saw.” We did that on an eight-track machine, which turned up on the very last day of recording, so we did multiple vocal tracks on that. Then we had 16 tracks. So as we were trying to expand, things were happening for us technology-wise that allowed us to expand even more.”
Lodge recently released B Yond, a career retrospective highlighting his work with the Moody Blues, as well as solo material. He has a handful of tour dates remaining in 2019, with more performances planned in February 2020.