John Lodge: Days of Future Passed and Present

John Lodge: Days of Future Passed and Present

Written by Ray Chelstowski

When the Moody Blues released their follow-up to their 1965 debut album, the cover song-centric The Magnificent Moodies (released in the US as Go Now – The Moody Blues #1), the music market didn’t quite know how to react. That second record, 1967’s Days of Future Passed, was recorded in collaboration with the London Festival Orchestra and largely panned by critics as being self-indulgent. Songs like “Nights In White Satin” would take time (five years) to gather speed on radio, but they would ultimately lift Days to a place where it is now considered one of the most important records of the 1960s, a recording with remarkably lasting significance.

John Lodge, bass player, songwriter and vocalist of the Moody Blues has decided to bring a celebration of this landmark record to America to help commemorate the album’s 55th anniversary. On the upcoming The Moody Blues’ John Lodge Performs Days of Future Passed tour, John and his 10,000 Light Years Band (Alan Hewitt: musical director and keyboards; Billy Ashbaugh, drums; Duffy King: guitars; and Jason Charboneau, cello), will perform the album in its entirety, along with performances by Jon Davison, singer for Yes. He’s announced that the show will also include a set of Moody Blues favorites including “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band),” and others.

The Moody Blues haven’t toured since 2017, and founding member Graeme Edge passed away in 2021. However, shortly before Edge’s death, John and Graeme got together, and at that meeting Graeme told John how he hoped John would continue on and keep the Moody Blues’ music alive.

The Days of Future Passed tour, which will begin in February 2023, is just the beginning of what John Lodge has in mind to keep the Moody Blues’ flame burning brightly. The ability for John to write and record at home and collaborate with his bandmates in person, as well as virtually, has ignited a creative burst that will ensure that fans of the Moodies and John’s solo work will have more music to enjoy for the foreseeable future.

Copper caught up with John in advance of the tour to talk about the importance of the seminal record and how he intends to bring it to life, orchestration and all.


Ray Chelstowski: Days of Future Passed was the first Moody Blues record that you and guitarist Justin Hayward appeared on, and the first with original songs. It was a large departure from the band’s debut, The Magnificent Moodies.

John Lodge: When I joined the band in 1966 I had already known [founding member] Ray Thomas because we had been in a band together five years before. Mike Pinder was in that group as well. During that time, we [only] did cover records. When Justin and I joined [the Moody Blues] we discussed the idea of not doing cover records, but writing our own material instead and performing it live on stage. We never thought about recording it, because recording contracts then were few and far between. We just wanted to play our own music. So, we would play 45-minute [sets]. The first 45 were basically cover songs, and the second was our original material. We actually began to realize that our original material was getting more attention.

RC: Initially the record wasn’t well-received by critics, especially Rolling Stone magazine, who said: “their music is constantly marred by one of the most startlingly saccharine conceptions of ‘beauty’ and ‘mysticism’ that any rock group has ever affected.” The album is now considered to be one of the most important albums of 1967. What changed?

JL: It was a really strange time. We weren’t trying to change the boundaries of music. We just wanted to follow a road that was different than AM radio pop. We just didn’t want to travel the normal route. When we recorded the album and had a playback we invited the A&R people and when they heard it they sort of dismissed it because they didn’t know who they could sell it to. But we did have the head of the classical department and the vice president of London Records there, and they got what we were trying to do and became our mentors.


John Lodge. Courtesy of Brian Aris.

John Lodge. Courtesy of Brian Aris.


RC: The record was made with the London Festival Orchestra. How will you be bringing those orchestrations to life on this tour?

JL: Our keyboardist, Alan Hewitt, has recorded all of the orchestra parts, and we will marry them with what we play live. What you can do with keyboards these days is really amazing, and Alan is an aficionado. The cello actually wraps up the entire bottom end and it just seems to work. It’s very exciting. It will be interesting to see what the audience takes from this because eventually I’d like to go on the road with an orchestra and perform the record live. But, first things first.

RC: That’s interesting! The title track to the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk includes a marching band. Lindsey Buckingham had hoped to invite local marching bands from each tour stop to perform with them on stage. You could do the same with Days of Future Past with local orchestras.

JL: That’s exactly what we want to do. We would do that with The Moody Blues. I own the name “The World Festival Orchestra.” Sometimes when we went into towns that didn’t have an orchestra our manager would go into the town a few weeks early and audition people to build an orchestra. After the concert, I’d go on stage and thank the town’s orchestra, and people would come up later and tell me that they didn’t know that the town had an orchestra. Many towns in American though do have orchestras and I’m looking forward to [someday] playing Days of Future Passed with them.

RC: When you spoke with Graeme Edge about carrying on the legacy of the Moody Blues, did you discuss this current project in particular?

JL: Yes, and Graeme had always been a great supporter of my solo career. About a year ago when I was thinking about doing this project I asked him if he would go into the studio and record the [spoken-word] poetry for me again because I wanted to have him performing on stage with me, [if only] audibly of course. He wouldn’t be going out on the road but he’d always have a place on stage. He loved the idea. It actually will be the first time he will be “on stage” reciting his written words and it’ll be a major feature of the show. Just a week before he passed, he told me to keep the Moody Blues flame alive, and that’s what we’re doing.

RC: How will you bring other Moody Blues’ songs into the set?

JL: The first part of the show will be classic Moody Blues songs. Then I’ll do Days of Future Passed, and end with a few encores. Jon Davison from Yes is joining me as well. It’s all very exciting, and nerve wracking at the same time (laughs).


RC: You met Jon Davison on a rock cruise and the rest is history. What is it about him as a musician and vocalist that works so well with what you do?

JL: He’s a very gentle person. It’s very important that the people I work with are calm because you can discuss songs and get the best out of them. Jon is a great musician with an incredible voice that is beautifully in tune. It works with my voice and we seem to know where each of us is going vocally on every song.

RC: Do you still enjoy writing and recording new material?

JL: I love writing and performing, and I’ve found a new love for recording as well because I found a way to do it that really suits me. I actually get excited to go into the studio now and record new music. By doing it at home and sharing files, the musicians only create when they feel like creating.

RC: Good luck with the tour. I hope its success leads you to go forward with the market-by-market orchestra idea we just discussed.

JL: Thanks Ray. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to about the orchestra idea and I think that if it all comes about I’ll thank you!

Here are the tour dates for The Moody Blues’ John Lodge Performs Days of Future Passed:

Saturday, February 18 – Cary Hall, Lexington, MA
Sunday, February 19 – Flying Monkey, Plymouth, NH
Tuesday, February 21 – TBC
Wednesday, February 22 – The Warehouse, Fairfield, CT
Friday, February 24 – The Cabot, Beverly, MA
Saturday, February 25 – Infinity Hall, Hartford, CT
Sunday, February 26 – Jane Pickens Theatre, Newport, RI
Tuesday, February 28 – Patchogue Theatre, Patchogue, NY
Wednesday, March 1 – Sony Hall, New York. NY
Friday, March 3 – Newton Theatre, Newton, NJ
Saturday, March 4 – Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA
Monday, March 6 – Sandler Center, Virginia Beach, VA
Tuesday, March 7 – Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD
Thursday, March 9 – Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
Friday, March 10 – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Ponte Verde, FL
Saturday, March 11 – The Lyric Theatre, Stuart, FL
Tuesday, March 14 – Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, FL
Wednesday, March 15 – Amaturo Theater, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Thursday, March 16 – Rock and Romance Cruise


Header image courtesy of Frank Piercy.

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