The Moody Blues' Ray Thomas Takes the Final Search for the Lost Chord
by John Diliberto 1/7/2018
The Moody Blues have been part of my musical life since their 1964 hit, “Go Now!” a cover version of a Bessie Banks single, sung by Denny Laine that became their first worldwide hit. Even though the seeds were there, it still didn’t prepare you for the shift the band took on their second album, The Days of Future Passed, arguably one of the first progressive rock albums with classical orchestrations and fanciful songs mixing fantasy and philosophy. It contained their two great songs, “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” which still sound brilliant 50 years later. Ironically, perhaps, I always found the orchestra arrangements of the album shlocky. They were something I had to wait through patiently to get to the great songs buried on the album. To my ears, the mellotron strings and flutes were far more timeless than the symphonic orchestrations. I think they recognized that as well by their 3rd album, In Search of the Lost Chord. The Moody Blues were also one of the few progressive bands whose single hits were much more potent and memorable than the deeper album cuts which tended toward the portentous and ponderous. When “Ride My See-Saw” came on a car radio, the trip suddenly launched into hyperdrive.
The passing of Ray Thomas, who hasn’t been with the band since 2002,is all the sadder given that the band was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
Ray Thomas (December 29, 1941 – January 4, 2018)
For a more detailed chronicle of Ray Thomas and The Moody Blues and Ray Thomas, see Rolling Stone’s obituary.