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Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward on enduring love of performing ahead of Norwich gig

PUBLISHED: 09:19 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 24 May 2018

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hewlett PR

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hewlett PR

Courtesy of Chris Hewlett PR

Legendary singer-songwriter Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues is bringing his solo tour to Norwich Theatre Royal. Long-time fan David Bale spoke to him ahead of the gig.

Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hewlett PRJustin Hayward of The Moody Blues. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hewlett PR

When I was growing up my brother and I used to sit down together and listen to all the prog-rock albums that had come out about a decade before. The Moody Blues were always among our favourites.

We were fans not just of the music but also of the incredible album covers. But we could never decide which of their albums was our favourite.

Speaking to Justin Hayward ahead of his solo show at Norwich Theatre Royal, it turns out his favourite, On the Threshold of a Dream, is probably mine as well.

Having such a long connection with the music it was quite a thrill to speak to the great man. Now 71, he has a lifetime of music memories to look back on.

The Moody Blues pictured in 1970. Photo: Nationaal ArchiefThe Moody Blues pictured in 1970. Photo: Nationaal Archief

When he was just 17 he was part of a 16-week summer season at the Auditorium theatre in Great Yarmouth with Marty Wilde.

He has fond memories of that time but his experiences of performing in East Anglia since then have been sparse. He remembers playing at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich but has never played at Norwich’s Theatre Royal.

As a fan, I’m particularly interested in talking to him about how some of my favourite Moody Blues songs, including Question, which was a hit single from 1970’s A Question of Balance album, were written.

He said: “I was living in a flat in Barnes, west London with my girlfriend. There was a session on the Saturday, and I knew the others would be thinking that Justin will have something.

Moody Blues performing at Ipswich's Regent Theatre. Photo: Alex FairfullMoody Blues performing at Ipswich's Regent Theatre. Photo: Alex Fairfull

“But it was 2am and I did not have a song, so I put two unconnected songs together - a fast and a slow song. It was our first number one. Nights In White Satin was not a number one.”

Each member of the band contributed songs to the group, but there was no real competition. “It was a partnership,” he said. “There were five strong egos, a strong dynamic about it, but it was a partnership.”

Another one of my favourite Moody songs is Watching and Waiting, which was credited as being written by Justin and fellow band member Ray Thomas.

But Justin put me straight: “I wrote it myself. Me and Mike [Pinder] had such a lousy publishing deal, we credited the others on our songs because they had better deals.

“I never really knew what the song was about. I had lost some members of my family, which had resonated very strongly with me.

“A church organ was brought into the studio for the song. We thought it was going to be a big hit, and it was the first released on our Threshold label, but it only sold about 10 copies.

“But we never really tried for any commercial success. With some songs you know it will be a hit, such as Wildest Dreams, when we thought, ‘Oh yeah’.

“I can’t exactly remember how Nights In White Satin was written. Graeme [Edge] and I were with our girlfriends. I wrote two verses, and we took it to a rehearsal room. Everyone was just saying, ‘It’s all right’. And then Mike [Pinder] did the arrangement for it.

The Moody Blues with some of their 35 platinum discs in 1978. Photo: PA WireThe Moody Blues with some of their 35 platinum discs in 1978. Photo: PA Wire

“I wrote it at the end of one big affair and the start of another - it was just the thoughts of a 19 or 20-year-old boy.”

It may have been more than a half-century since Justin first performed with the Moody Blues, but he still loves getting up on stage.

In Norwich he will have support from renowned acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes and musician and talented Moody keyboardist and singer Julie Ragins.

“I love the atmosphere. It’s the only way I know to put the music in front of people.

Justin Hayward who will be at Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Marta SzczesniakJustin Hayward who will be at Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Marta Szczesniak

“I’m not a celebrity. I don’t go on many TV shows. I love the solo tour. I can hear every nuance with Mike and Julie.”

His favourite of his songs is I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.

He added: “And my favourite Moody Blues album is On the Threshold of a Dream, which was our first number one in the UK.”

• Justin Hayward plays Norwich Theatre Royal on May 28, 7.30pm, £38.50-£10, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk


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