Wind of heaven to pass on tour
By Martin Hutchinson
“I CAN’T remember his name, but he sang Nights In White Satin,” said Jeff Wayne when he was casting his legendary album ‘The Musical Version of The War of the Worlds’.
He wanted the perfect voice for the song Forever Autumn and he thought the voice of The Moody Blues was perfect. He was right and Justin Hayward was duly approached.
“I don’t normally sing other peoples’ songs,” Justin said. “But there was something special about it and I just had to sing it.”
Of course, it became the iconic sound of the album.
From his office in the South of France, Justin is relaxed and is looking forward to performing the cream of his work on his forthcoming UK tour.
“I love touring,” he enthused, “it’s the gypsy life and it’s not the real world. I love the people in the business, and my crew and also love being with musicians.”
Justin, now 70 years old, got his break in the mid-sixties when working with Marty Wilde in a trio before joining The Moody Blues.
“I last worked with Marty about 10 years ago on his 50th anniversary show. I remember that he said to me before the show: ‘Just have a look at the audience and all the 70-year-old Teddy Boys.’ I did have a look and there they all were in their finery.”
With The Moody Blues, Justin created a body of work unparalleled in popular music. Their seminal album ‘Days Of Future Passed’ contained the ethereal Nights In White Satin and other albums: ‘Question’, ‘Threshold Of A Dream’ and ‘Seventh Sojourn’, cemented their place in the upper echelons of music.
The Moody Blues have just been touring their 50th anniversary of ‘The Days Of Future Passed’ album, and rather than putting his feet up, Justin has decided to go out on the road again as a solo act with his ‘Wind Of Heaven’ tour.
The name of the tour alludes to Justin’s new single The Wind Of Heaven, included on the album ‘All The Way’, a 2-CD retrospective of Justin;s work.
“The song is from a film that is currently in production and is about a US veteran who comes home from Afghanistan to find that his life and the world around him has all changed.”
A bit like an updated ‘Rambo’?
“That’s a great idea,” he laughed, “but not as violent.”
The retrospective was the record company’s idea, as Justin explained.
“Yes, it was Eagle Rock’s concept. When they were taken over by Universal, they had access to all my solo work and they came to me with the idea of the album so that the songs would not be deleted. They came up with a list of tracks and I added a Clifford T Ward song called The Best Is Yet To Come and It Won’t Be Easy. I’m very flattered they came to me with the idea.”
And there are also some rarities. “There’s the original mix by Eric Stewart of 10CC of Blue Guitar (the hit that Justin had as part of The Bluejays with fellow Moody Blue John Lodge); I heard it for the first time last year and I was blown away. It Won’t Be Easy is a song I did for the BBC, and the version of The Story In Your Eyes has a string quartet. There are also some covers and live tracks.”
Going on to the tour, as it’s the 50th anniversary of ‘The Days Of Future Passed’ I ask if Justin will feature pay tribute to it in a special section of the set.
“That’s interesting, perhaps I should do. I’ll be doing at least two from that album in Tuesday Afternoon and Nights In White Satin. It’s quite a thing to be celebrating a 50th anniversary.”
On the tour, Justin performs his music acoustically.
”Yes, I wanted to design a show for my acoustic guitars and I can then perform the songs as I demo-ed them originally. I’ll also be telling the stories behind the songs”
For the show, Justin will be joined by Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins.
“Julie I’ve known for many years, and she tours with us in The Moody Blues too. She has the voice of an angel and her voice complements mine. I found Mike by chance. I auditioned many guitarists and he was the second one I saw.
“I knew straight away that he was the one: we fitted together so well and he deserves to be known in his own right.”
Even though the tour is showcasing Justin’s solo work, he naturally has to fit some Moody Blues songs in.
“I think the set will be about 60% Moodies. And there’ll be lots of surprises.
“For instance, I hope to do Watching And Waiting which the band has never done on stage, and Never Comes The Day which we haven’t done for years.”
“Also, I’m looking forward to singing Forever Autumn which I only do on my solo shows. “It’ll also be nice to play The Wind Of Heaven as some people won’t have heard it before, and The Best Is Yet To Come”
And what of the future?
“Well, in The Moody Blues, we’re taking our time – unless John and Graeme have some plans they haven’t told me about. The only things we have lined up at the moment is The Moody Blues Cruise and some US dates early next year.”
“At my time of life, I just wanna stay healthy and hope that my voice holds out.”
Justin Hayward (and his voice) will be touring the UK on his ‘Wind Of Heaven’ Tour from to October 6.