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Rock Biography Long Distance Voyagers Makes For Quite a Journey

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Ex_Moody Blue Front Man Teamed Up with Ex-Cream Legend Ginger Baker


There is no "question" it is the story through the eyes of the Moody Blues, one of the most underrated British Invasion groups of the Sixties and Seventies. Although he is not a singer in the rock and roll band, author Marc Cushman dedicates over seven hundred pages to the Moodies, and Long Distance Voyagers is just the first volume of the biography.

Cushman in this book traces the band's onset from circa 1960, following each member all the way up until 1981. Thus, the title is a bit misleading, for the number one album Long Distance Voyager is not examined until the future second volume is completed.

Its title is not the only problem with the book, which admittedly provides a plethora of insight about its past and present members. Littered among the discussions of recording sessions and tours, unfortunately, are numerous spelling and grammatical errors.

Not only are the common third person pronoun problems regard “it,” but also more unforgivable miscues. One such instance could even be construed as insulting to a peer of the Moody Blues, as Cushman and his editors misspelled the last name of 10cc co-founder Eric Stewart.

Causing other stumbles are several examples of passages being reprinted verbatim, calling into question whether Cushman even bothered to have it professionally edited. When an author undertakes a project of seven hundred pages, he must also take great pains to catch as many usage errors as possible.

In spite of the grammatical flaws, Long Distance Voyagers is a delightful read. Fans are offered an in-depth look into the personalities of the various members, while also learning some new trivia about the Moody Blues.

Here are twenty bits of knowledge I came away with after reading the biography.

1. Before joining the Moody Blues Denny Laine played in Ralston with drummer Bev Bevan, who would along with Jeff Lynne found the Electric Light Orchestra.

2. Brian Epstein became their manager, but spent most of his efforts on his other clients The Beatles.

3. Their early producer Denny Cordell would go on to work on Gold Records with artists such as Leon Russell, Procol Harum and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

4. Donovan, who had just hit the charts with “Catch the Wind” and “Colours,” wrote the liner notes for an early album called The Magnificent Moodies.

5. A snag in paperwork at the New York airport invalidated their visas, preventing the MBs from making their scheduled appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. “If we'd had done the Ed Sullivan Show I think we'd have probably been a lot bigger at that period of time,” said Denny Laine. “It was a huge let-down because everybody else who did the Ed Sullivan Show sort of shot to the top, and we missed out on that.”

6. Paul McCartney unsuccessfully tried to interest the MBs in “Those Were the Days,” which Mary Hopkin turned into a number one hit the next year.

7. Justin Hayward was recommended to the Moody Blues after answering an ad for a guitarist in Eric Burdon and the Animals, who had already filled the position.

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8. Denny Laine's band after the MB, the Electric String Band, released an album with pre-Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones as its arranger.

9. Mike Pinder in 1964 introduced the mellotron to the Beatles, who immediately bought one.

10. They got to play for two nights at the Electric Factory, filling in for no-showing Pink Floyd.

11. The first act to record with Threshold, the Moody Blues new label, was to have been King Crimson.

12. Renown British officer Colonel Blashford-Snell threatened to sue the MB because of his likeness to the man with the gun pointed at the elephant on the cover of Question of Balance.

13. Threshold's second artist was Sue Vickers who, as the wife of a member of Manfred Mann, wrote the band's classic “Martha's Madman.”

14. After he presented the band their sixth Gold Record award, Jay Silverheels of Tonto fame became close pals with the MB.

15. For the seventh album Pinder replaced his mellotron with an instrument called the Chamberlin.

16. Laine, in between his MB stint and joining Paul McCartney's Wings, was the front man in Ginger Baker's Air Force.

17. Their eighth album was recorded in a hunting lodge owned by John Barrymore, Sr.

18. Drumming for Pinder on his solo album was Bob Berg, who had already appeared on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

19. Octave, the eighth album, is the first which featured the band on the cover.

20. To replace Pinder the MB recruited Patrick Moraz, who had been a member of Yes.

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