Moody Blues and Wings Guitarist Denny Laine Headed to DC
By Keith Loria
English vocalist and guitarist Denny Laine began his career with the Moody Blues in 1964, singing lead on the band’s worldwide smash, “Go Now.”
From there, Laine formed the band, Balls, with the Move’s Trevor Burton and then was part of Ginger Baker’s post-Cream band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, performing on the band’s first two albums.
In 1971, Paul McCartney tapped Laine to be his right-hand man in Wings, and he remained with the group until its demise a decade later.
Over his career, Laine has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, has won two, and has had a prolific solo career, recording and releasing 12 solo albums.
Last year was a memorable one for Laine. He and the rest of the Moody Blues were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and McCartney released the highly-anticipated Wings boxset.
These days, Laine continues to tour, playing songs from both legendary acts as part of his aptly named band, the Moody Wings Band. On Jan. 13, Laine will be playing City Winery in D.C.
Loria: What can those coming to the show expect on the night?
Laine: The Denny Laine and the Moody Wing Band was made up purely to promote this show. We’re doing the two albums most significant to me in my career—Band on the Run and The Magnificent Moodies. We’re doing our versions of the songs; we’re not copying them note for note, we’re doing more up to date versions.
Loria: What is it about performing that keeps you coming back year after year?
Laine: The audience. You don’t get the feedback from a lot of areas in business, but you do when you are on stage. You can’t get the energy of playing in a studio unless you play live. You have to take that activity with you.
Loria: Any new music that we can expect in 2019? Is it important to you to still create when you could easily rest on your laurels and play fan favorites all night?
Laine: I have a new single out on vinyl called “Meant to Be,” so I’m doing new stuff. I’m also working on a musical. I’m also doing some solo shows with songs and stories and I have some other songs in the can that haven’t been released yet. I definitely like to work towards the future, I don’t like living in the past the whole time, it’s not me.
Loria: When you first started in this biz in 1964, what were your thoughts about the future? Did you think you’d still be doing this all these decades later?
Laine: I always wanted to be out there doing music and writing. It was my goal and I started out doing other people’s material, adapting it and turning it into our own sound. You have all these young fans whose parents are playing the music and grandparents are playing the music, so I’m always thinking of moving forward. You can’t predict the future, but I always look to come up with new ideas based on progress.
Loria: What did it mean to you to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Laine: It was surprising actually after all the years that we weren’t. It’s only because our fans complained about it; I never particularly did complain, nor did the rest of the Moodies. We’re English, so it didn’t have as much significance to us. But then when you are, and you realize who else is in it and you get to meet all those you have worked with, and feel the nostalgia of it, it was very significant. Plus, it was a reunion for us, and that was really heartwarming.
Loria: Between the Moody Blues and Wings, you’ve had your hand quite literally in rock n roll history – what do you hope your legacy is in music?
Laine: When you are a writer, you want people to understand what you are all about. I just want people to get to know me through what I do. I want to be known as a progressive person. The first Moody Blues album was described as a progressive blues album by Donovan, who did the liner notes, and that’s how I like to be known. Plus, someone optimistic about the future.
Loria: Any last message for those coming out to the show?
Laine: We’re going to have a good time with the audience. It’s very much getting everyone involved and so far, we’ve been having great reactions on this tour and the people have enjoyed it and we’ve enjoyed it.