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Justin Hayward


Born David Justin Hayward, 14th October 1946, Swindon, England, singer-songwriter/guitarist HAYWARD is best known for becoming an integral ingredient in re-shaping R&B combo The MOODY BLUES into a symphonic-prog act. Entering the MB’s rock’n’roll stratosphere at the same period in early ’67 was Birmingham boy, JOHN LODGE (born 20th July 1945, Erdington), a bassist with several local outfits, including El Riot & The Rebels (featuring school buddies and future MB’s, MIKE PINDER and RAY THOMAS); a stint in the army was left behind when he worked very briefly with the said pair in The Krew Kats.
Meanwhile, HAYWARD was carving out his own solo career as a solo artist, releasing two collectable 45s in 1966, `London Is Behind Me’ (for Pye Records) and `I Can’t Face The World Without You’ (for Parlophone). Answering an ad to join ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS (who’d already picked his team), Justin’s audition was of such quality that he was sent on to rivals, The MOODY BLUES, Eric knowing that singer DENNY LAINE had just bailed out. With both Justin and John in place, the group’s fortunes took an upswing, the former’s `Nights In White Satin’ (from their ground-breaking “Days Of Future Passed” meisterwork), proving to be their finest achievement. The symphonic pattern was repeated through subsequent albums from 1968’s “In Search Of The Lost Chord” to 1972’s “Seventh Sojourn”.
As time drew on in The MOODY BLUES’ lengthy hiatus, JUSTIN HAYWARD & JOHN LODGE combined forces to release a soft-rock LP, BLUE JAYS (1975) {*7}. Regarded as a MOODY BLUES album in all but name (PINDER, THOMAS and the GRAEME EDGE BAND would have their own respective say on the matter), Justin and John’s harmonies and the former’s sterling guitar work added to producer Tony Clarke’s orchestral direction. While one can’t really pick out any classic song (`I Dreamed Last Night’ flopped in the singles market), the transatlantic Top 20 album was boosted by Top 10 sales of belatedly-released schmaltzy platter, `Blue Guitar’.
Pitted against each other when delivered in February ‘77, both HAYWARD’s and LODGE’s respective Top 40 solo efforts, SONGWRITER {*6} and NATURAL AVENUE {*5}, appeased MOODY BLUES acolytes in need of the pair’s gentle touch. Featuring Clem Cattini (drums), Mel Galley (guitar) and Peter Knight’s strings, Justin’s set had touches of mysticism (`Nostradamus’), although accompanying singles, `One Lonely Room’, `Country Girl’ and `Stage Door’ failed to ignite anyone but his loyal fanbase. The same could be said for John’s rather pedestrian effort; `Say You Love Me’, `Children Of Rock’n’Roll’ and `Summer Breeze’, all following his associate’s 45s into the bargain bins. LODGE never made another album. The MOODY BLUES returned to the fold for 1978’s patchy “Octave” comeback set, while HAYWARD fared better in his contribution to Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds”. A beautiful piece of work, the evergreen `Forever Autumn’ deservedly climbed into the UK Top 5, and surprisingly became a staple in The MOODY BLUES live canon.
As permitted when your band is out of session, JUSTIN HAYWARD continued to release the odd album or three; NIGHT FLIGHT (1980) {*5} utilising outside writers for once via BILLY NICHOLLS, MIKE SILVER, plus Gary Osborne, together with the aforementioned producer, Carl Wayne.
Released in 1985, the slick, soft-rock sheen of MOVING MOUNTAINS {*5} opened up new avenues for HAYWARD – sadly, none for the buying public who struggled to get it past the bubbling under stage of the Top 75. Better returns were registered for the singer’s symphonic reunification, CLASSIC BLUE (1989) {*5} – “a collection of classic songs, with Mike Batt and The London Symphony Orchestra” – as portrayed on the sleeve. The older among you might appreciate reinterpretations of `Man Of The World’, `Stairway To Heaven’ and er… `Bright Eyes’; one could blame a certain BATT out of Hell for the latter one.
Anyhow, The MOODY BLUES were Justin’s (and John’s) first love as both boosted their band CV’s with album after live album as the holding pieces for the long-running dinosaurs of rock. JH’s last solo set of any note – one can’t really count a couple of independent concert efforts, LIVE IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (1998) {*4} and the exhaustive JUSTIN HAYWARD AND FRIENDS and the Frankfurt Rock Orchestra Perform The Hits Of THE MOODY BLUES (2000) {*5} – was the plodding and melancholy, 80s-styled, THE VIEW FROM THE HILL (1996) {*4}.
Pleasing stalwart fans of The MOODY BLUES and their long-serving frontman, JUSTIN HAYWARD, the singer-songwriter was back in the limelight for 2013’s SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN SKY {*5}. Autumnal or suited to forced-listening on a romantic Sunday morn, the man took on a bit of Nashville country on the steely `It’s Cold Outside Of Your Heart’ and `What You Resist Persists’, but it’s in his solemn and serene flights of fancy like `The Western Sky’ and `Lazy Afternoon’, that best suited his elegant vocal chords.
© MCS Oct2012-Nov2013

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