John Lodge Tour 2019

Apr 2019 John Lodge Tour 2019

By Jim Stewart

Back in 2016 when JOHN LODGE announced he was about to embark on his first solo tour, more than 40 years after his debut album and 50-plus years in the business, he was asked why it had taken so long to tour on his own. His reply was: ‘I’ve been so busy with my other band.’

John is due back on UK roads again this month starting in East Sussex on April 9 and closing in Wimborne on the 14, with a pres­tige date at Birmingham Symphony Hall on the 11th.

I caught up with John during a rare break from work in Barbados and we began by talking about the tour.

I said to him: “It looks as if you thrive on touring at short notice, but I have an idea why it’s happening this time.”

He replied: “I wanted to tour the UK again but it never worked out: but then the good people of Birmingham decided to honour both me, and Carl Palmer, by adding us to the Birmingham Walk Of Fame at The Sym­phony Hall in April, which seems amazing for a boy from a council estate in Erdington.

” I thought ‘seeing as I’m coming over for that why not bring my US band over for a few days and do a few gigs while we’re over here, and let them see the country’.

“So I contacted my promoter, who moaned last time about two months notice, and this time I gave him just over five weeks to set it up!”

You’re visiting some interesting places, especially the opening venue Trading Boundaries in East Sussex. Have you ever been there?

“No, but when I told Roger Dean, who does the artwork on all of my albums about coming over, I was looking for somewhere to rehearse. He suggested there, as he had previously held an exhibition of his work there a few years ago. I am so excited with my band; half are from Detroit, and the oth­ers from Florida. I just love working with them.

“That was when we went there; it’s more suitable for a barn dance than a rock gig, although they hold music nights on a regular basis. After we set it up for rehearsing, we thought ‘why don’t we do a gig there as well’, and we are looking forward to it.

“When we were setting up the tour, I want­ed to show the band as many different areas of the UK as possible, so we’re doing Lon­don. I got a lot of complaints about not play­ing there last time, – Milton Keynes, my home town, Birmingham and Wimborne on the Dorset coast.”

We spoke, back in 2015 when the album ’10,000 Light Years’ was released, so we covered it in depth then, and I still get knocked out by Those Days In Birmingham and the French feel of Love Passed Me By.

“As I must have told you at the time, the Stéphane Grappelli – who the Moody’s had worked with back in the sixties, influenced that song, but I’m very proud of the album.”

Since we last spoke The Moody Blues have been inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last year.

“Yes, it was incredible, especially being a British guy and it being such an American institu­tion. I didn’t realise the importance of it, when we were nominated: we thought ‘great’ but when the votes started coming in and they’re reaching a million, you start to feel almost humble: all those people voting for us, it has to be something really special, not only for us, but all the peo­ple who voted for us.”

I was one of those: you have five votes and four out of my choices got in. Only The Zombies missed out to The Cars.

“‘But The Zombies got in this year, which was great. When it came to the evening, the sense of achievement was amazing. I’m standing here along with Elvis and Buddy Holly, and during the day I’d been taken backstage to see all of the memorabilia that may possibly never be exhibited, and all these things belonging to Buddy Holly, who was my hero, no not my hero – my mentor.

“I saw him in Birmingham when he came over, and absolutely loved him. He showed me, a guy from a council estate, the way to achieve what I wanted.”

If my memory serves me correctly Ray was still around when the news of being nominated was announced.

“I’d grown up with Ray, he lived close to me, and when the news came about being nominated, he called me up and said ‘Hey John, does this mean we’re famous now?’ and then, about a week before we were due to go, he rang me and said ‘John, do you think you could pick up my award for me? I’m just not well enough to go’. Not only wasn’t he well, he sadly passed away a couple of weeks before the ceremony.”

He was a great guy, so open about every­thing when we spoke, especially his prostrate problem.

“Yes, but he will always be with us in spirit.”

The Moody’s are always touring Amer­ica, but it must be a good four years since they last played the UK.

“That’s right. I love playing and want the band to come and play the UK, and the fans deserve that. In fact, in my own tour I include a couple of Moody’s songs I didn’t write, Mike Pinder’s ‘Sunset’ because we’ve been good friends forever, and ‘Legends Of The Mind’ by Ray Thomas to keep Ray’s music alive.

“I’d like to do those with The Moody Blues but trying to get Justin and Graeme to tour is just impossible: but I won’t give up, even if it’s just a special one like the ‘Days Of Future Passed’ with the orches­tra we did in America, at The Royal Albert Hall, but not as a farewell show, and close the book.

“I’d like to keep the book open, so I’ll keep trying to get the other two to put their Moody Blues suits back on again!”

Let’s hope John is successful but, in the meantime, catch John and his band now

If not, check out his ’10,000 Light Years – Live In Birmingham’ DVD for a taste of what you’re missing!

Jim Stewart 2019