ith the Moody Blues, there was never a "Moody Mania Week." There was never a record company spending $2 million trying to establish the Moody Blues. The Moodies were something people discovered for themselves. We were never rammed down anybody's throat. We worked and toured with every album, and you had to care enough to want to discover the Moody Blues. Once you did, it was long-lasting. We believed in making albums that you could put on at the beginning and have a complete experience to the end.
The album Days of Future Passed, which established us as a band that could make albums as opposed to just singles, came about completely by accident. What happened was, we didn't have a recording contract to make albums, we had a contract to deliver four singles a year. We owed Decca some money, so they came to us and said they wanted the group to record a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony," as a demonstration record to demonstrate that stereo could be as interesting for rock 'n' roll as it was for classical music. When stereo started, it was confined to classical.
So we said, fine, we'd do the demonstration record if we could just have five days alone in the studio without any record company executives coming in and telling us what to do. Decca hemmed and hawed a bit, and then finally they said OK.
We went into the studio and recorded our stage show. "Forget Dvorak," we said, and we continued working out a little rock opera we had already been doing on the stage. We were performing Days of Future Passed, with "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," a long time before we recorded it.
In the studio, we worked on the album from a Monday to a Friday, then we mixed it on Saturday, and gave it to Decca in time for their regular music meeting on Monday. They took one listen to it and they said, "This is not Dvorak. But it's good. Let's put it out anyway on our demonstration label," which meant "full-frequency stereo album at a cheap price."
Soon it was January, when we would be playing at MIDEM, the music convention in France. The Supremes were due to go on. The show was supposed to be an hour of live Eurovision television, and something happened. The Supremes' backing track didn't turn up, and it was complicated by the fact that something was wrong with the entire tape system. Everybody that was miming had a problem.
So the producer of the show came rushing around saying, "We need an act to play live." Nobody was prepared to do that. None of the American acts could work without their backing band, but we said we'd do it. We went on and wound up with forty-five minutes of live Eurovision time. "Nights in White Satin" was one of the songs we performed. The next week it was Number 1, that fast.
We couldn't afford a press agent, and when we decided on our own not to put our faces on the cover of Days of Future Passed, we became -- by accident, I suppose -- an anonymous sort of band. It didn't help that we were anti-everything. We hated putting out singles. When we finally got powerful enough to say what we wanted and didn't want, we told the record company we didn't want a single out, which, if you're a record label, can be a terrifying thing to hear from a group.
We worshipped America because nothing else was really happening for us. Around the time of Days of Future Passed, we began making inquiries to America. We received a call from Bill Graham, who had heard about Days of Future Passed. He offered us two dates, the Fillmore East in New York and the Fillmore West in San Francisco. The only trouble was, the dates were ten weeks apart.
We came to America anyway, thinking, "This is our chance." We hired a U-Haul truck and we toured everywhere and anywhere. We did the Fillmore East gig, and then by word of mouth we started getting gigs at clubs that had names like the Psychedelic Factory and the Electric Supermarket. Then we teamed up with the Jefferson Airplane, and they had a truck where you could let the side down and play anywhere. So we did a few gigs with them, playing for nothing, and eventually we ended up in San Francisco.
Like all groups, the Moodies have had our share of personality problems. We actually did split up for three years, which I thought was total madness at the time because we were right at the height we had been working towards. We had been on tour for about two years, and none of us had any kind of life outside the band, nothing at all. That in itself is what breaks up a lot of bands. So we split up for about three years, and looking back now, I think it was the best thing we ever did. It made coming back together that much more meaningful.
No one has the divine right to be successful, particularly in the Eighties, and a lot of people were surprised when we came back with a Top 10 album and single. Everybody was surprised but the band. But then, we think even our flops were good.
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