“We’re having a great time playing ‘Days of Future Passed’ on stage. The songs haven’t changed, you know, but the audio/visual technology available to us now is spectacular." -- John Lodge
Growing up in a post-war British blue-collar town, it never dawned on fledgling bass player John Lodge that one day he’d sing and write songs as a member of The Moody Blues, one of the most successful rock bands of all time. The band has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and celebrated their 50th year as a group in 2017 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fueled by a love for American rock and roll, Lodge formed a band and began playing at local bars and nightclubs.
"I loved that piano players like Little Richard, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis used their left hand to play the bass line," he said. "Listening to how they did that helped me to play those lines on bass guitar."
Many years later, he's still playing that bass guitar on the road, playing the Moody Blues' hits to appreciative crowds – including recently in Milwaukee. In preparation for his visit, we got to ask Lodge some questions about his musical evolution, avoiding the industry's pitfalls and his legacy.
Did your school offer music lessons when you were growing up?
I was born into a working class family in a heavy industrial town. We lived in what was called a council house. By that, I mean the town council owned all the houses, and a family would rent from them. People were just trying to get their lives together following World War II. All the kids were born about the same time, so we had lots of friends. I was dismissed from music class in school because I asked the instructor to show me some chord structures and how to play the 12-bar blues. I learned to play music by exploring my guitar and listening to records hour after hour. When I found rock and roll, another career path never entered my mind!
How is being on the road different today?
It’s worlds away from the '70s and '80s. Hotels, venues and travel have gotten more professional. The people involved have created a special niche for touring bands.
The music business can contain some dark corners. How did you avoid that?
I love the music, not the lifestyle it can offer. I couldn’t see the point of throwing a television out of a hotel window. What would I watch when I came back from the concert! (Laughs) In all seriousness, music is my life, and I always wanted to be sure I could fulfill that promise to myself.
The Moody Blues have contributed substantially to the soundtrack of our lives.
I hope the music we have created will last forever; I enjoy performing the soundtrack of my life. I will always be one of the Moody Blues.
What do you do when you're not making music?
I enjoy my family, my home and playing golf!
How do you see your legacy when you’re gone?
I hope with my music. I’m still writing my legacy.