John Lodge

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

As the new year rolls in bringing upcoming concerts, one not to miss is John Lodge of The Moody Blues performing a celebration of their iconic hits, as well as the entire album DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. This album made its mark in the music industry as the first progressive rock LP released in 1967, exposing fans to songs like “Nights in White Satin”, “Peak Hour” and “Tuesday Afternoon”. Now, this world-renowned Singer/Songwriter/Bassist has released DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – MY SOJOURN displaying The Moody Blues classic sounds contrived in tunes that fans have loved for decades and continue to do so. Presently, this Rock & Rock Hall of Fame inductee and ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) award winner, along with his 10,000 Light Years Band (Keyboardist Alan Hewitt, Guitarist Duffy King, Drummer Billy Ashbaugh and Cellist Jason Charboneau) will be bringing their extraordinary talents to Florida on February 25th at the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, on February 27th at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, and on February 28th at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra.

Catching up with Lodge just prior to the end of the past year, he revealed some details about the album DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – MY SOJOURN, the 2024 show, a bit about The Moody Blues past, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with the new show, The Moody Blues Music and Days of Future Past?
John Lodge: The new album is DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – MY SOJOURN and I’m performing the whole album on the second half of the concert. The first half of the concert is gonna be classic Moody Blues songs. I have Jon Davison from Yes joining me onstage and of course, I’ve got my 10,000 Light Years Band. So, I’m looking forward to a great concert and a great time for all, hopefully.

SFL Music: You had asked Graeme (Edge) to record his poems “Morning Glory” and “Late Lament”. What prompted you to come up with that idea?
Lodge: Graeme lived in Florida. He’s been a great supporter of me through our lives together. When I was thinking about doing DAYS OF FUTURE PAST onstage, I thought it really needs something that indicates to me it’s a right decision. So, I went to Graeme and said, Graeme, I’m thinking about DAYS OF FUTURE PAST onstage. Would you go in the studio and re-record your poetry. Well, record your poetry because Graeme has never recited his own poetry before. I said, if you record it, I will film you and you will always have a place onstage with me when I perform DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. He said, “John, I’d love to keep The Moody Blues music alive.” I said to him, well, you’re gonna be great! You’ll be joining me onstage, onscreen and unfortunately, Graeme died before he actually saw himself onstage. That was a shame, but it definitely shivers up the backbone when Graeme recites the poetry onstage. It’s a beautiful moment.

SFL Music: That is definitely something to look forward to. What would you say was special about the musical bond that you two had?
Lodge: I first met Graeme when I was about fifteen and he played in Birmingham in a group called Gerry Levine and The Avengers. Ray Thomas, you know from The Moody Blues and I, we were great friends from when we were fifteen, and we used to see Graeme perform on a Saturday afternoon in a ballroom. Nobody got a concert in Birmingham onstage on an afternoon, but we used to see him on a Saturday and I thought, what a fantastic drummer he is. I never thought four years later we would be in the same band together and spend fifty odd years together as well. So, that’s really the bond.

SFL Music: Fans are also going to be looking forward to Jon Davison joining to perform “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon”. How did this come about?
Lodge: Well, I joined the Yes tour in 2019 called The Royal Affair. They invited me onto the tour and during the course of that tour, Alan White, the drummer from Yes, he was in the Plastic Ono Band, and Yes used to play “Imagine” as an encore number because Alan was a drummer on that song. One night they asked me if I would join them on the encore and sing “Imagine” because I suppose the relationship of the sixties and The Beatles. I said, I’d love to.” So, I went onstage and sang “Imagine” and I said to him afterwards, if I’m gonna join you Jon, you should join me for “Ride My See-Saw”, and he joined me onstage for my encore. Then it just progressed from there. Come on Jon, you’re going to join me onstage forever then, and that’s it.

SFL Music: I did interview you in 2019 when you were going on that tour. You told me you are a self-taught musician, and the one thing that you attribute to your longevity is that you’re not going to do something that you don’t believe in, and you think the audience definitely knows that. Is that something you kept in mind when you were planning this new tour?
Lodge: Yeah. Exactly that. I’ve been performing onstage playing my bass since I was fifteen, sixteen years of age and I just love it! That’s what I want to do, and I want to be truthful to myself and to my bass actually, and truthful to the fans. I only want to do what I believe in. So, I tour when I think I really want to go to these places and perform, and that’s where my tours come about.

SFL Music: I read you had a conversation with Graeme, Alan and Jon to reach fans from 1967 to today.
Lodge: Absolutely because to be honest, a lot of people weren’t around at that time (he laughed). I think re-introduction of these songs to people. A new younger audience in their growing up stage may have heard some of these songs or some of the melodies, and I thought it would be great to bring them back to the forum again because DAYS OF FUTURE PAST for me is one of the first ever prog rock records, although the name wasn’t about at that time. I think young people now, particularly people who are interested in music, want to hear what made these records in the sixties what they were. Experience listening to the album themselves, and with today’s technology and the way we produce vinyl records particularly with 180-gram and everything else, you can actually have the album playing as though you were in the studio listening to it for the first time, I think. I hope (he laughed).

SFL Music: I did see and hear your song “Peak Hour” on YouTube. I love the drum intro with the sixties rock rhythm and the seventies rock guitar solo and keyboard solo. What would you say inspired that song?
Lodge: I can tell you how it came about. We were driving in our van along the motorway, the freeway in England and the freeway was concrete. We were coming back from a concert and as we go along, I could hear this drumming from inside the van going boom, boom, boom, boom drumming away. I’m tapping my tempo and Graeme was sitting in front of me, and I tapped Graeme on the shoulder and said, Graeme, could you keep this tempo up for about three minutes on the bass drum? He said, “yes, of course I can.” And that’s where I came to write the song being on the freeway basically at peak hour or rush hour as you say in America. It grew from that really. Took on a slightly different meaning, but that was the general idea where the song came from.

SFL Music: What would you say inspired the album (DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) at that time?
Lodge: I think we were five young musicians. We’d all been playing cover songs for four or five years before and we decided to write our own stage show. Perform our own songs because we were performing songs from America, from the Delta, from Memphis, and we’d never been there (he laughed). It was like, well we’re just copying all this and we thought, what is the blues about? And the blues is about growing up. It really is. If you listen to all the early blues records, it’s all about lifestyle and we thought actually, why don’t we write about the blues in England where we grew up? It’s the same idea, and so we set about writing these songs. I think as young musicians, we felt fearless because we decided we had nothing to lose because you could always play cover songs for the rest of your life, but that wasn’t what we wanted to do. The cover songs were really our apprenticeship, learning about who we are and how to perform music.

SFL Music: You definitely wrote some amazing songs and you all were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You’ve achieved a Lifetime Achievement Award for Progressive Rock. What would say in all encompasses to the success and longevity that you have had?
Lodge: I think what you asked of me in the very beginning of the interview really, is to remain truthful. To be if you want to say, the rules we set ourselves at the beginning. I remember we all sat around one day talking to one of the technicians at Decca Records where we recorded. The technicians in those days, they were wise overall proper technical guys because a lot of them were the beginning of the record industry. A lot of the older technicians there, and I remember one of them saying to us, “you know, what you record and what you write, you really want to believe in it because twenty years later, you won’t want to turn around and say, why did I write that or why did I say that?” It’s not twenty years, its fifty years, but I think we really kept to that, and I think an audience understands that and believes in what you’re trying to write about and achieve. Not just lyrically, but musically as well. Trying to take that audience on a journey, even a three-minute journey or forty-minute journey. Somewhere they would like to go.

SFL Music: Are there going to be any new videos or songs released?
Lodge: I don’t know. I hope so. The problem is, we’re coming up to Christmas now and we’re running around doing lots and lots of things, but I think in the new year, there will be a new video and lots of things to encompass the tour, I think. I’d like to, yeah, very much. I’m always writing and always recording, so I always seem to have something else I’d like to release.

SFL Music: Are you writing anything new that fans can look forward to?
Lodge: Yeah. I’ve recorded three or four new songs. At the moment, I’m concentrating on DAYS OF FUTURE PAST because we’re just releasing the vinyl now which I’m very excited about. The vinyl itself looks fabulous. I can say that because I didn’t design it (he laughed). I’m really pleased with it and I hope the vinyl itself will take people on a journey.

SFL Music: You are playing several dates in Florida. Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to when you go there?
Lodge: Good weather, I hope! I always have a great time with Florida. I have a home in Naples and I have a great time. Lots of friends. Lots of music and yeah, really enjoy traveling.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want fans to know about the show?
Lodge: I just want say, if I can say have a great Christmas and fabulous New Year to everyone and I hope they will come along and support the show, Jon Davison and 10,000 Light Year Band because we’re really looking forward to the tour.

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