Interview with bassist John Lodge in advance of Nov. 30 show at Caesars Atlantic City.
By any measure, it isn’t even close.
The Moody Blues, those veteran cosmic rockers from the 1960s, have been at it for 48 years, minus a two-year hiatus in the mid-1970s. Fourteen of their 16 studio albums have been certified platinum or gold, they’ve sold more than 70 million albums and it seems like there’s never a time when they’re not on tour.
Fellow ’60s progressive rockers Procol Harum have had a solid and respectable career. Their 14 studio albums did well, but their album sales pale in comparison to the Moody Blues. Procol Harum was known more for its live performances than its recordings (save the single “A Whiter Shade of Pale”). And in 1977, the band broke up and didn’t get back together for 14 years.
But when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for its class of 2013, it was Procol Harum that got the nod. Once again, Cleveland’s rock hall dissed the more obvious candidate.
But at least one member of the Moody Blues says he could care less about the snub.
“I have to tell you, I don’t have sleepless nights about it because from my point of view, it’s far more important for us to be on stage and touring and meeting the people who have supported us for 40 or 50 years,” says bass guitarist John Lodge, who joined the band in 1967. “That’s far more important to me, that there’s a love for the Moody Blues which cannot be replaced.”
Lodge understands there’s an animosity within the hall toward progressive rock. It’s been widely reported the singular source of the anti-prog rock movement has been Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, a co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In recent years, the list of nominees would often include a progressive rock band as an almost grudging nod to the art form. And while he doesn’t seem all that offended, Lodge, 67, thinks the rock hall is doing itself a disservice by leaving out bands with widespread appeal like the Moody Blues. They’ll add to that total when they perform at Caesars Atlantic City Friday, Nov. 30.
“It’s a shame, really, because progressive rock ... has been a really integral part of [American music], and I don’t understand why they miss that in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Lodge says during a chat from Naples, Florida, during a short break from the band’s fall tour. “Because from a commercial point of view, if I owned the [rock hall], I’d have the Moody Blues in it. They’re [still] touring and there’s hundred of thousands of people who come along every year to see the Moody Blues on stage. You’d think they want [us] in to attract our fans.”
To put things into a better perspective, Lodge points out that the rock hall came along 20 years after the Moody Blues scored their first platinum album, Days of Future Passed.
“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” he asks rhetorically with a small laugh, “or the Moody Blues or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”
The Moody Blues were created in 1964 by flautist and composer Ray Thomas, who wanted to include Lodge, who was then a 14-year-old novice bass player.
When Deana Martin steps onto the stage Friday night to sing from her dad’s songbook, she’ll be following in some very famous footsteps separated by 50 years and just a few hundred feet. The daughter of the late crooner Dean Martin will be performing at Caesars Atlantic City, just a toss of a shot glass from where her father and his Rat Pack pallies like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. once performed at the legendary and long-gone 500 Club.
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