[Note: The Moody Blues were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.]
Continuing the series of bands unjustly denied their spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, we come to the Moody Blues. The Moody Blues are one of the longest lasting of the British Invasion acts (which have tended to fare well in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), but their role as one of the founding bands of progressive rock is probably held against them. Nonetheless, when taken purely on merit, the Moody Blues deserve induction both on influence and on their solid body of work.
The Moody Blues’ Contribution
There are really two different groups under the Moody Blues name, with some overlap in members . The first group was an English R & B group with one massive hit single (“Go Now”) and recording that largely focused on covers, showing the influence of American rhythm and blues outside of its original cultural environment. The second group is the much more famous one, responsible for massive contributions to psychodelic rock and progressive rock with their “song cycle” Days of Future Passed (with its classic singles “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)” and “Nights In White Satin.” Throughout the late 1960’s and (after a hiatus in the mid 1970’s) to the early 1980’s, the Moody Blues produced quirky, original, and important music that obtained a great deal of popularity while speaking out against the excesses of celebrity culture (notably on “Isn’t Life Strange” and “I’m Just A Singer In A Rock & Roll Band”). Even a couple of popular adult contemporary songs towards the late end of their career (“Your Wildest Dreams” and I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”) should not be held against them.
Their output in their discography speaks as follows: 6 platinum albums in the US, 5 more albums that went gold, 13 top 40 hits in the US, including 3 top 10s (one in the 1960’s, one in the 1970’s, and one in the 1980’s), besides 9 top 40’s in England. They even add four top 3 hits on the Modern rock chart for good measure . So, we have a band of enduring popularity that has managed to create a solid and enduring body of work that remains popular. However, the real strength of the case for the Moody Blues for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is for their influence. The Moody Blues introduced the Beatles to the Mellotron, influencing the late musical work of that band. Additionally, the Moody Blues are a key band in the merging of high-art orchestral music with rock & roll music, as well as a key band in terms of founding the progressive rock movement. Their work in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s makes them a key act in forming an entire branch of rock & roll music, a contribution that deserves recognition.
Why The Moody Blues Are A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Three decades of artistic and commercial relevance, a founding role in blending classical & rock music, a key role in developing the genre of progressive rock as well as psychodelic rock, and influence on the Beatles means that the Moody Blues are a vitally important act in Rock & Roll History. Additionally, their story can help provide a cautionary tale for dealing with the politics of record labels (albeit not as tragic as that of Big Star or Badfinger), itself a necessary and neglected element of Rock & Roll history.
Why Aren’t The Moody Blues In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Jan Werner doesn’t appear to like progressive rock (other deserving bands of that genre, including Rush, are also not enshrined), and probably doesn’t like “Your Wildest Dreams” either. Again, as bears repeating, the problem with subjective standards of popularity that are enforced selectively means that some acts are punished for commercial success while others are not, and that some genres of rock & roll are neglected while others are given full recognition. Righting the wrongs of the neglect of progressive rock can start with the Moody Blues, even if it doesn’t stop there.