Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge recalls Britain's magical music scene

Moody Blues members Justin Hayward, from left, Graeme Edge and John Lodge.

Moody Blues members Justin Hayward, from left, Graeme Edge and John Lodge.

If you go

If you go Moody Blues

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12

Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers

Cost: $56, $68, $90

Tickets: 239-481-4849 or bbmannpah.com

Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge recalls playing with a different band in the early 1960s at a Liverpool venue called the Cavern Club.

He and his bandmates performed first, then headed to the back of the club to listen to another up-and-coming band. The band's singer launched into "Long Tall Sally," Edge said. It was a song Little Richard made famous, and many British artists at that time knew it well.

"Paul McCartney started singing it and they sounded like an American band," Edge said of the Beatles, who made nearly 300 appearances at the Cavern Club from 1961 to 1963.

"We said, 'Oh my God.' After four songs we couldn't take it anymore and went across the road to the pub and got drunk. They were so good. We realized we were totally outclassed."

Edge did well as a musician, however, moving on to the Moody Blues, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. The tour marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark album "Days of Future Passed," which spawned two of the band's biggest hits: "Nights In White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon."

He also plans to release a poetry book featuring the Moody Blues' music, plus behind-the-scenes stories and recollections of recording the songs.

Edge said people over the years encouraged him to write such a book but he always declined, fearing it would appear he was promoting himself.

"I'm always kind of weary of looking like I'm going to milk a cow," he said.

Edge said the music industry in Great Britain in the mid-1960s was a magical time for many reasons. Hanging out with members of Procol Harum and the Beatles was one reason why, and Edge said he became good friends with George Harrison.

The Moody Blues was signed with Decca Records, a British record label.

"We were all based in London at the time," he said. "We had this huge studio at Decca."

Studio managers were new to rock music and weren't sure how to handle groups such as the Moody Blues, Edge said.

"They realized they didn't know anything at all about what we were doing. They gave us a studio and said, 'Get on with it.' "

The band experimented with various instruments, including trumpets and the Mellotron, an electromechanical keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in the early 1960s.

During another session, the band was looking for a unique sound so band members removed their watches and put them under a microphone and recorded it.

"It sounded very menacing," Edge said.

It was in London where the band recorded "Nights In White Satin," which was released in 1967. Edge said he knew immediately the song was special.

"Fairy dust. The invisible, unknowable thing," he said. "It's just one of those songs where everything came together correctly."

However, the song wasn't popular at first, not until radio disc jockeys in U.S. college towns gave it plenty of airplay.

"The problem was it was 4½ minutes long," he said. "We sort of pioneered the fact that a record didn't have to be three minutes."

Edge, 70, said he still enjoys touring. Well, most of it.

"I enjoy playing on stage. The traveling, that's another story," he said. "It's not hell, because we travel well."

He offered advice for fellow musicians.

"Always try to stretch yourself. Find new things to do that you'll find hard and try to get it right," he said.

"Always sing your truth and what you believe in."

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