JOHN IS 10,000 LIGHT YEARS AHEAD
TOWARDS the end of 1966, a young Birmingham-born bass guitarist joined the flagging Moody Blues around about the same time as a guitarist and singer called Justin Hayward. After that, the band never looked back as they became one of the most acclaimed rock bands in the world. They pioneered Progressive Rock and Arena tours, and for the most part have remained busy to this day.
However, the band took a break in the mid-seventies that enabled the various members of the band to pursue solo projects. John teamed up with Justin for The Blue Jays, and scored a massive hit with the single ‘Blue Guitar’. Then in 1977. John released his first solo album ‘Natural Avenue’ which was a Top 40 hit. But with The Moody Blues reconvening in 1978 and touring the world seemingly incessantly, it would be 38 years before his second solo album ’10,000 Light Years Ahead’, which came out last year.
But for all his years touring with The Moody Blues, he has never undertaken a solo tour – until now, as the legendary bassist is about to perform the cream of his career on a tour of the UK in September.
Relaxing at his Surrey home, John, who will have just turned 71 when he tours, tells me why he has decided to embark on this new adventure. “Well, I’ve never done a solo tour before and that’s one of the main reasons I’m doing it, plus I wanted to tour this new album. I felt sdad that I couldn’t tour the first one.” The reaction to ’10,000 Light Years Ahead’ has been positive. “Yes, people have liked it, which is great. It’s just a shame it took so long to finally do a new solo album.” “I’ve been incredibly busy with The Moody Blues over the years and I wanted to get back to the roots of who I am.” He continues. “Also, I wanted to have a theme to the album – however lightly, and when I had all the songs I just wanted to get into the studio and record it.”
When John goes out on the road in September, he’ll have friends around him as drummer Gordon Marshall, keyboard player Alan Hewitt and flautist Norda Mullen are part of The Moody Blues’ touring band. “It’ll be great, as I’ve also got a cellist and another guitarist with me, and Alan I’ve known since before I was in The Moodies. He’s actually produced Earth Wind and Fire.”
To accompany his album, John has also produced a book about its’ making. “That’s right, essentially it’s a book about what it’s like in the studio – a photo album of the making ot the album and it provides a real insight of the recordings.” But what of the tour itself, will John just be treating us to his solo material. “Oh no, there’ll be some Moody Blues songs in there, I wouldn’t want to tour without them.”
And John has written some of the bands’ best known tracks such as ‘Ride My See Saw’, ‘I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)’, and ‘Steppin’ in a Slide Zone’. But while it appears that John seems to write the ‘rockers’, his favourite of his songs for The Moodies is the sublime ‘Isn’t Life Strange’, as he explains. “I love playing that one, you can hear a pin drop sometimes when we play it.” “Of course we’ll be playing songs from my solo albums, and also The Blue Jays album.”
The Blue Jays was a project that John undertook with fellow Moodie Justin Hayward and the members of 10CC in 1975 which resulted in a hit single, ‘Blue Guitar’.” “We only toured that in the UK.” Says John. When he has time to relax, John is a keen golfer with a 12 handicap. “I don’t play enough to get it any better.” He laughs, “But I enjoy the tournaments I do with Alice Cooper and previously with Glen Campbell.” “I was honoured to be the captain of the Variety Club of Great Britain’s team one year and it’s great to be able to do something for the charities, as well as having a great jam session in the evening.”
But back to the tour. “I’m really looking forward to the tour, I’m rehearsing all day on Facetime with Alan (Hewitt), and I hope it’s going to be exciting.”
John Lodge will be at Buxton Opera House on Saturday 24 September at 7.30pm.
Tickets are priced at £29 and available from Buxton Opera House Box Office on 012998 72190 or visit www.buxontoperahouse.org.uk