Denny Laine, a founding member of both the Moody Blues and Paul McCartney’s Wings, will present a Hannibal Concert Association program at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in the Roland Fine Arts Center at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
Laine, a vocalist and guitarist, will bring a drummer and bass player for his local concert, which will include his hits with various bands, such as “Band On the Run” and “Live and Let Die.”
During a phone interview, Laine described the other members of his trio as friends from the Monmouth Academy of Musical Arts in New Jersey.
Although blues is his favorite venue, Laine said the trio will bring a variety of music, adding “I will be playing guitar and keyboard and tell a few stories related to the songs.”
Laine expects to enjoy the Hannibal concert because “I like small theaters. I have played everywhere, but I prefer small theaters where you can be closer to the audience.”
His many albums include some of his own compositions, Laine said. “I write songs all the time. One of the reasons I left Wings was to do my own music and write my own albums.”
His newest album, which will be titled Valley of Dreams, is in the final stages of production. His recent gigs have included some with Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon), another British musician who is also a record producer. “We go back many, many years,” Laine said of Asher. “I have been working with him and his band and guesting on his show, and in November will do a tour with his band.”
‘Go Now’ Laine’s
with Moody Blues
Laine and his fellow musician friends in his native Birmingham, England, founded the Moody Blues in 1964. He was lead singer and guitarist. “It was at least five years before we got known,” Laine said. “When we got a hit I was there for another year or two.”
“They wanted to go to work in Hamburg where the Beatles were working, and I wanted to go to London and get a deal, so we did that. We were professional musicians, and we wanted to make it.
“We worked all over England and Europe and especially France and then came to America in the mid-’60s,” Laine continued. “Go Now” was his biggest hit with the Moody Blues.
“Then I left about a year after that, but formed my own group, The Electric String Band.”
The members of Moody Blues and the Beatles were very good friends, Laine said, and they did a tour with the Beatles. “We were friends, and we were neighbors.”
Page 2 of 3 - Later Laine was performing with Jimmy Hendrix, and Paul and John were in the audience. A few months later Paul asked Laine to help him and Linda form Wings. This was in 1971. and Laine was with Wings for 10 years. “We are still in contact,” Laine said. “We are still friends.”
Laine was influenced by American musicians from Frank Sinatra to Motown to Elvis and Buddy Holly. “Pop music came across from America in the Army, Navy and Air Force,” he said.
This also led to his love of the blues. “We went out and got obscure records,” he said about his music group. “We were blues fanatics. We picked that up and brought it back to America.” The Moody Blues was originally a blues band, due to his influence, Laine said, and “the Moody Blues stopped being a blues band the moment I left.”
After helping found Wings, Laine began playing other instruments. Since then, he said, “I have picked up a lot more instruments.”
with his success
Laine began playing guitar at about age 8 and has never been anything except a musician.
Now, a generation later, his own children have all become musicians, too, he said, “without my help. ... I’m very proud they did it without me encouraging them. They were around musicians all the time, but I didn’t expect them to get into music. They are all doing quite well.”
Laine believes his successful career was the result of his late parents’ encouragement and acceptance. “Family encouragement, I think that is the secret,” he said. “I think a lot of people don’t become musicians, because their parents don’t think it is a very lucrative job.
“My parents encouraged me, because they loved music. Anything you could do, you were encouraged to do. I loved music and didn’t want to do anything else.
“My parents were very proud. They came to America and saw some of the success and it was good fun. They enjoyed it,” Laine said, adding “they never got in my way. They were not impressed by all the money and the fame, but it was fun.”
Laine reported his first performance was with a pantomime company that did Jack and Jill. He was one of the extras.
His first solo performance was with the Midland Institute in Birmingham, England. “It was a big occasion and I sang a couple of folk songs,” he recalled.
“I went from there to joining a band at school, then forming my own band and turning professional - just one thing after the other - I’ve never been anything but a musician.”
Page 3 of 3 - Despite Laine’s continuing success, he explained that “the music business is one of the biggest struggles on the planet .... When you think of the amount of people in it and the amount that actually make a living at it, there is a big difference. It is a 24-hour job and is very hard on family and friends. You are always touring and you are always somewhere else.
“You have to maintain the success. It is not easy.”