The Cassette Chronicles – Badlands self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

Original advertisement for Badlands self-titled debut, released 30 years ago.

BADLANDS – BADLANDS (1989)

Ahh memories…oh do I have some when it comes to Badlands. Of course, any discussion of Badlands and Jake E. Lee has to start off with his time with Ozzy Osbourne. The Ultimate Sin album was the first Ozzy album I bought and it remains my personal favorite. Since Lee was the guitarist on that album, I obviously have a soft spot for him.

So when I first saw/heard the video on MTV (most likely on Headbanger’s Ball specifically) for the track “Dreams In The Dark”, I was quickly captivated. But instead of the high flying metal guitar of Ozzy, this was a far more gritty and bluesy guitar driven rock and roll record.

Of course, I was immediately in need of owning the album. Once I had it in my hands, I played it quite frequently. I have to say that I found it amazing from start to finish. I know that might be a bit of spoiler for the rest of the article but this was a case of a band starting out at the peak of their musical abilities.

Impressive as Lee was, it was the voice of Ray Gillen that really cinched my fandom. His relatively brief time with Black Sabbath couldn’t have really foretold the performance he would turn in on this album.

As I said, I loved the album. Each song is just full of blazing rock and roll. Side One (or the East Side as it is billed on the album itself) blazes right from the get-go with “High Wire”. You can hear each individual member’s performance blend into a singular whole. Drummer Eric Singer and bassist Greg Chaisson are just as key here as Lee and Gillen.

“Dancing on the Edge” and “Streets Cry Freedom” are also top notch rockers. Of course, there was a slightly softer side of the band which was displayed with the Lee instrumental “Jade’s Song” and the intriguingly intense and atmospheric “Winter’s Call”. Neither really rises to the accepted norm of what a ballad was in the 80’s but damn if I didn’t love both of the songs.

The album’s West Side continued the band’s intense and hook laden blues rock with the opening track “Hard Driver”, a song whose title sums up the viciously rocking nature of the track. The song “Rumblin’ Train” sounds like a swampy blues drawl that you’d hear in a kind of backwater bar if it wasn’t for the far more powerful sound behind it. “Devil’s Stomp” might start out a little slow but soon earns its name as it rocks and stomps it way through your ears. “Seasons” becomes the “ballad” of the 2nd side of the album but still, I found nothing wrong with this song at all. The closing “Ball & Chain” brings down the house with another fiery guitar driven rocker.

I got to see the band twice in concert. The first show was a headlining club date at the Living Room in Providence, RI. The show was packed (the club routinely oversold their capacity) and by the time Badlands hit the stage, I had moved off the main floor and watched most of the show through the side of the stage area. The opening act was D.A.D. and I spent part of the Badlands set standing next to their drummer. I took some photos at that show but this was long before digital cameras and when I got my pictures back, most of them had been destroyed by the developer. However, the one shot that I didn’t throw away was this amazing shot of Ray Gillen in mid-performance. It actually was a mistaken photo that came out better than anything I could’ve shot on purpose. The band’s performance during the show was great even if I didn’t get to see it straight on.

The second show saw them as the opening band for Tesla and Great White at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA. That show was solid but it was obviously far shorter given their status as the opener.

While the band’s commercial fortunes didn’t match the quality of their material, I have no qualms saying that the Badlands album is without a doubt one of the best debut albums released during “The Metal Years”. It’s an album that found the band with all their combined experience already at the top of their game. If they’d been able to fend off all the problems that came their way (feuds, splits, death and withdrawal from the spotlight), I think they would’ve ended up as a far more important band than most would see them as these days. I think they really had that kind of potential. Don’t believe me? Check out this album and I believe you’ll change your mind.

NOTES OF INTEREST: After years out of the music spotlight, Jake E. Lee is back with his band Red Dragon Cartel. They’ve released two albums thus far. Eric Singer left Badlands after this first album. He was replaced by ex-Racer X drummer Jeff Martin. Singer went on to join Kiss where’s he’s been for years. Greg Chaisson had a solo album released in 1994 and made appearances on a few albums since the split but there’s no credits to his name that I can find since 1998. Ray Gillen died from AIDS-related complications in 1993.

In 1998, third album from the band was released in Japan. It is called Dusk. I have it and it is actually quite a good album.

The album was produced by Paul O’Neill, who among his many credits, was responsible for Trans-Siberian Orchestra (and a number of albums from Savatage before TSO came into being). The keyboard programming on Badlands was done by Bob Kinkel who was also a driving force in TSO.

And on a personal note, if anyone knows where I can get an inexpensive CD copy of this album it would be most appreciated as my cassette is pretty close to giving up the ghost.

The Cassette Chronicles – BEGGARS & THIEVES self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BEGGARS & THIEVES – BEGGARS & THIEVES (1990)

Ahhh memories…I wish I could say that I had some when it comes to writing about Beggars & Thieves. Though I remember the band getting a promotional push when this first album of theirs was released, I’d be lying if I said that I remember much about them beyond that the lineup featured bassist Phil Soussan. I didn’t buy the album and can’t truthfully recall ever having heard any of the songs on the radio.

Of course, that’s part of the fun of this series. I get to look back at things I missed way back when and listen with mostly new ears. Sometimes that doesn’t quite pay off because the music isn’t great. Other times, it becomes a revelation because the music is so great that you find yourself becoming a belated fan. And then there are times when it is a mix of both of those trains of thought.

Such is the case with the band’s self-titled debut album. The album kicks off with a somewhat overlong intro to the song “No More Broken Dreams”. The intro went on long enough that I started wondering if the song was supposed to just be an instrumental. After that buildup the song started off in earnest. At first I wasn’t all that charmed by the track. However, the longer the song went on, it strangely grew on me. I think the vocals by singer Louie Merlino are what really captured my imagination.

Now I can’t say that I was that big of a fan of the rest of the songs on side one. Leaving aside my relative disdain for the ballad “Your Love Is In Vain”, the remaining three songs are all fast paced rockers. But the songs (“Billy Knows Better”, “Waitin’ For The Man” and “Isn’t It Easy”) all just failed to rise above much more than a description of “OK” for me. They aren’t bad songs, just kind of run of the mill with nothing you haven’t heard a million times before to set them apart.

After that somewhat disappointing first side, I wondered if there would be a change on the album’s second side. I wasn’t crazy about the side two opener “Let’s Get Lost”, but after that, the band rose to the occasion when it came to putting together some really great rocking numbers.

As a whole, the songs “Heaven & Hell” (not a Black Sabbath cover) and “Love Junkie” are just flat out fantastic tracks. But what really drove them home for me was the guitar work. Ronnie Mancuso was the guitarist for the band (with Merlino and Soussan credited with providing “additional guitar”) and he shined on these tracks in particular.

The oddly titled ballad “Kill Me” was just awful but the album closed out strongly with a the outstanding “Love’s A Bitch” and the title track. The band did a video for that title cut and the song was definitely worthy of being spotlighted for said video treatment

For a band that barely made an impression on me when they first launched, I was surprised to learn that they’d released four albums and an EP. The last album was released in 2011 and titled We Are The Brokenhearted. It reportedly got great reviews worldwide.

While I wasn’t overly sold on the debut album’s first side, the markedly improved songs on Side Two helped make this album an album that I’m happy to have finally discovered. More to the point, it actually created a desire to hear more of the band’s material to see just what I might’ve missed out on. I can’t think of a better endorsement than that.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Bobby Borg left the band after this first album. Soussan left to join Vince Neil’s solo band. Borg would later play drums for Warrant on their Belly To Belly and Warrant Live 86 – 97 albums.

Though the band continued after the lineup changes (which included the addition of Billy Squier drummer Bobby Chouinard on drums) their second album, Look What You Create, didn’t come out until 1997. The album was recorded in 1992 but Epic Records dropped the band without releasing the album as the grunge music scene exploded.

Though he wasn’t a member of the band, Alan St. John played keys on the album. Like Bobby Chouinard, he played on a number of albums from Billy Squier, among his other credits.

 

The Cassette Chronicles #100 – Savatage’s ‘Gutter Ballet’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

SAVATAGE – GUTTER BALLET (1989)

Author’s Note: This is the 100th article in The Cassette Chronicles series. It’s hard to believe what started as a lark on a message board that I remain part of to this day has now seen one hundred individual articles spotlighting some of the best (and worst) of the music of the 1980’s and 1990’s. I just want to say thanks to everyone at Limelight Magazine for giving this series a home these last three years or so. I’d also like to thank everyone that has taken the time to read the articles and send along feedback. This would include those spotlighted bands who have gone out of their way to share the articles on their own social media pages. I hope to bring you another hundred articles over the next few years!

As for this week’s album, I had a choice to make between three albums that I’ve wanted to spotlight for a while now. While the other two will eventually make their way to publication, I figured this anniversary of sorts should spotlight the band that over the course of a few years back in the late 80’s and early 90’s worked their way to becoming my favorite band. It is a title, that despite them not being an active band for years, they retain to this day.

I’m pretty sure that before I heard “When The Crowds Are Gone” on The Metal Zone on 94 HJY (out of Providence, RI), I’d never heard of Savatage before. But hearing that song found me instantly captivated by the way the song built itself into something that started out with a strong but spare piano soundtrack all the way up to an epic sounding number that lent itself to something far more cinematically intense than I could’ve ever expected to hear from a band I was completely unfamiliar with.

In fact, “cinematic” is a recurring theme for pretty much every song on Gutter Ballet. Before delving more into the album, I should note that even though Gutter Ballet was the first album I bought from the band, I went about grabbing up everything they’d produced to that point and was continually swept up into their music. I could say the same for everything that came after Gutter Ballet as well.

The album opens with a thumping riff in the intro to “Of Rage and War”. Singer Jon Oliva’s vocal performance on this song definitely fit the “rage” portion of the song’s title. At times, there was an almost beastial growling undertone to his vocals as he worked his way through the song that was filled with real world concerns about terrorism and other such topics.

While the band would go on to do four concept albums in the years after this album, Gutter Ballet isn’t a true concept album. However, there were some thematic similarities running throughout the album.

With the title track, Savatage launched into a what can only be described as a mini musical suite. It feels like something you’d find on a stage accustomed to hosting plays rather than concerts. The piano opening of the “Gutter Ballet” track gives way to a merging of both the strongly metallic and the strongly melodic. The video for the song and the entire vibe the track engenders that stage play feel I mentioned at the start of this paragraph. I should note that the cover art is a fantastic representation of everything going on with the album’s music.

The instrumental “Temptation Revelation” stands on its own while simultaneously serving as a table setter for “When The Crowds Are Gone.” As someone who writes, it is no surprise that I like words. So lyrics and the person performing them have always come first for me. The fact that I don’t play an instrument probably factors into my personal focus on singers and lyrics. However, it is songs like this that made me focus on the musical aspect a lot more than I usually would. Particularly on the performance of Criss Oliva. I became so enamored of his playing over the years that I ended up considering him my own personal favorite guitarist. There was just something so spectacular about his playing that it made him the first guitarist that I truly loved to listen to just for his own individual playing.

“When The Crowds Are Gone” starts off much like “Gutter Ballet”, with a softer piano-based intro that carries on through the first verse. But then a more explosive rocking soundtrack takes over. The lyrical themes the song builds upon in the song still resonates strongly with me to this day.

The first side of the album closes with another full-length instrumental called “Silk and Steel”. It showcases a lighter touch and I daresay that the song could be called beautiful without sacrificing any of the band’s heavy metal street cred. I should point out that while Jon and Criss Oliva are the focal point of many of the band’s credits, bassist Johnny Lee Middleton and Steve “Dr. Killdrums” Wacholz were just as important to the band’s sound and live performances.

Much like how “Of Rage and War” stands on its own to open the album, “She’s In Love” opens up side two of the album in a similarly singular fashion. The lyrics are pretty easy to figure out and might seem like something that would come from a band that came out of Los Angeles in the early-to-mid 80’s but when couched inside a more frenzied and blitzing soundtrack, the song manages to avoid becoming a cliche.

A more supernatural theme takes over with the songs “Hounds” and “The Unholy”. Both songs are ripping rockers. Though the title implies a plurality of beasts on the loose, I’ve always thought the song was kind of musical homage to the Sherlock Holmes thriller “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. The song does a great job of giving listeners a creepy kind of feeling, even going so far as mentioning the sun setting on the moor. Jon Oliva’s vocal is especially vicious on this track.

As for “The Unholy”, the fiery music combined with another tale that seems ripped from a horror novel, the song establishes itself quickly and drags you on for a scary kind of ride.

Savatage changes things up on the album’s final three songs which are apparently purposely interconnected. “Mentally Yours”, “Summer’s Rain” and the bonus track “Thorazine Shuffle”. “Mentally Yours” starts off with a piano before giving way to a heavier sound. It’s the opening salvo in the “story”. “Summer’s Rain” serves as the middle point of everything and then “Thorazine Shuffle” brings things to a crushing and haunting end.

There’s nothing bad to say about this album. However, much like everything Savatage did over the course of their career, it seemed to get little if any traction with the mainstream metal crowd. I’ve carried my passion for the band for years and will talk them up to anyone who asks (and more than a few times to people who didn’t). I was lucky enough to see the band three times in concert and I got to meet at least a few of the band members each time. They have been a huge part of my life in metal music fandom. I’ve made friends based solely on the fact they saw me wearing a Savatage T-shirt at a Def Leppard concert. And I’ve followed many of the new projects the various band members moved onto after Savatage packed it in as a going concern. My photo with the late Criss Oliva from the Gutter Ballet tour date in 1990 at the Living Room in Providence remains a prized possession.

It’s a crying shame in my eyes that Savatage never broke through to big time success until they morphed into Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I’m glad they saw that success of course, but still wish they’d gotten more recognition for what they brought to the metal world.

Still, Gutter Ballet served not only as my starting point with the band but also as an evolution point for the band’s overall sound. They moved from a more traditional heavy metal sound to more of a progressive metal viewpoint. It, like the rest of their albums, deserves a far bigger audience than it got back in the day and I will continue to tout the greatness of Savatage until my dying breath!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album has been reissued on CD three times. The first was in 1997, then in 2002 and then in 2011. Each reissue featured bonus tracks. I have the 2011 edition on CD which comes with an essay from Jon Oliva.

Guitarist Chris Caffery is credited on the album as having played guitar and keyboards on the album. However, he didn’t actually play on Gutter Ballet, though he was hired to join the permanent lineup for the tour.

The album was originally slated to be named after the song “Temptation Revelation” and then it was changed to Hounds of Zaroff before the band wrote the “Gutter Ballet” song and settled on that as the album’s title. The song itself featured Jon Oliva not only on vocals but he played the drum and bass tracks as well.

Jon Oliva had a stroke in 2016. It’s reported that he recovered fully from it but recent reports say that he has retired from live performance and I’ve heard nothing about any new music being recorded. His 2013 solo album Raise The Curtain is utterly brilliant.

 

The Aristocrats to play the Middle East in Cambridge, MA

The Aristocrats, featuring guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann, have announced what will be their most extensive North American tour since their inception in 2011. The tour will make a stop at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA, on August 2, bringing the band’s unique and unrivalled brand of instrumental rock/fusion to the Greater Boston area. The Travis Larson Band will open the show. Purchase tickets HERE.

This tour date is in support of the band’s highly anticipated fourth studio release, their most ambitious and exploratory album yet, which is titled You Know What…?.

Over the past eight years The Aristocrats have released critically acclaimed albums, toured the world, and established themselves as one of the most musically original, refreshingly irreverent, and astoundingly entertaining instrumental rock-fusion acts on the planet. Anyone who’s witnessed their live musical high-wire act – employing random amounts of rock, jazz, pop, metal, and even traditional country – can attest that it is informed by the spirit of a true band, one whose improvisational soul allows for anything to happen onstage at any moment…including the occasional wink and nod at the audience.

Fans can expect to hear many new tracks from You Know What…? and some old favorites from their back catalogue, along with tales of the inspiration behind the tracks, for which The Aristocrats have become known.

For more information on The Aristocrats, please visit: 

For more information on Travis Larson Band, please visit: 

Vanilla Fudge to perform at Narrows Center in Fall River, MA

Legendary rock band Vanilla Fudge will perform at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Saturday, November 16th. Purchase tickets HERE.

Since the summer of 1967, Vanilla Fudge were architects of a new musical style that included psychedelic, rock, soul music and gospel. They were, and are masters of reinterpreting other artist’s hit songs, and their effect on the soon to explode late 60’s “heavy metal” scene was undeniable.

To be an influence on the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Van Halen certainly secures a place in rock n roll history for the legendary Vanilla Fudge.

Now in their 52nd year, the powerhouse vocals and keyboard flourishes of virtuoso organist Mark Stein, along with the fluid guitar explosions of Vinnie Martell, all anchored by arguably one of the best rhythm sections in the history of rock music, with the legendary Carmine Appice on drums and Pete Bremy on bass (filling in for the retired Tim Bogert), they create a sound so unique that it cannot be imitated. Your spirit will jettison right back to a “happening” in that magical summer of 1967, and this “happening” needs to be felt live to truly be appreciated!

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, Mass. Tickets to this show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The Cassette Chronicles – Keel’s ‘Keel’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KEEL – KEEL (1987)

For those of us who consider ourselves passionate fans of music, the truth of the matter is that there is always going to be entirely too much material for us to get to it all in a timely manner. And that’s allowing for the notion that we’ll ever get to it all.

Of course, taking three decades to check out an album is likely pushing the boundaries of the phrase “Better Late Than Never” but such is the case with Keel’s self-titled fourth album. While I have a Facebook friend who is seemingly friends with singer Ron Keel, I can’t begin to even guess whether or not I’ve ever heard a song from the band before now.

Like many metalheads, I’ve of course heard of the band but Keel fell into the category of a band I just never found time for back during metal’s 1980’s golden period. After listening to the Keel album, it would seem they now fall into the category of how did I miss out on them the first time around.

I say that because I was surprisingly taken with this album. Things kick off with a rousing and rocking anthem in “United Nations”. The music is incredibly strong with the guitar work of Bryan Jay and Marc Ferrari being immediately captivating. Ron Keel’s voice quite obviously fit the material but I found myself really listening to his vocals throughout the album, which led me to kicking myself over having ignored the band all these years.

The song “Somebody’s Waiting” was a bit of dip in the quality for me. It’s okay but doesn’t seem to have quite the same energetic feel as most of the other tracks on the album. Seeing how the album was put out in 1987, you can imagine that there was a power ballad type of song included. And with “Calm Before The Storm”, you’d be right in that assumption. I wasn’t quite taken with the song but I did like that the lyrics didn’t suffer from a sugary overload of trite emotional waterworks.

Still, the first side of the album is explosively rocking with the killer “Cherry Lane” and “King of the Rock”. The latter song is a furious blaze of music, with the song’s opening guitar driven intro quickly establishing itself as a song that needs to be not only heard, but played repeatedly…on 11!

The second side of the album opened up a little weaker than I would’ve hoped. “It’s a Jungle Out There” isn’t necessarily a bad song. The fast paced number just kind of felt rushed and everything ran together for me. It didn’t feel as if it truly blended all the elements together.

However, that’s the only down note about the second side of the album. Because wow did Keel kill it with the other songs. I don’t know what it was about the title “I Said The Wrong Thing To The Right Girl” but from the title to the actual song there was just something about the song that really appealed to me. I know that the title may seem a little silly but for me, any residual giggles about the title were blown away by just how good the song was. Another potentially silly sounding title was “If Love Is A Crime (I Wanna Be Convicted)”. I know it sounds kind of like something that would be included on a Ramones album but again the song itself is so strong that the title is just left in the dust when you think of it.

I thought “Don’t Say You Love Me” was a standout track. And thankfully, the song was a balls out rocker. Keel ends the album with literal and figurative fireworks. The song “4th of July” explodes from start to finish. Given that we just had the holiday recently, the way the song concludes with the inclusion of recorded fireworks going off, it was a nice kind of celebratory way to end the album.

So I’ve once again been surprised by my own musical ignorance. As I listened to each song I kept wondering why this album hadn’t been a bigger thing back in the day. The irony of thinking that while I was one of those millions who ignored the band and album does not escape me.

I will say that while the cassette played well enough for me to be able to write this article, it does seem like it might be ready to give up the ghost. I don’t say this often but I liked the album so much that I’m going to be looking to upgrade to a CD edition as soon as I can because the Keel album is just too good for me to not have in my musical collection anymore.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Guitarists Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay would leave the band a year after the release of this album. However, they rejoined the band in 1998 and again in 2009 for Keel’s 25th anniversary reunion.

Black ‘N Blue frontman Jaime St. James sang backup vocals on “It’s A Jungle Out There” and “If Love Is A Crime (I Wanna Be Convicted)”

The song “Calm Before The Storm” was co-written by the longtime Dio and Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain.

The Moody Blues’ Justin Haward to perform in Fall River, MA

Justin Hayward, vocalist, guitarist and composer of The Moody Blues, is performing at the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on October 9, 2019. The concert will feature Hayward playing hits and deep cuts from The Moody Blues catalog and songs from Hayward’s solo career. Michael Dawes, who is also in Hayward’s band, will open the show. Purchase tickets HERE.

Having chalked up over fifty years at the peak of the music and entertainment industry, Justin Hayward’s voice has been heard the world over.  Known principally as the vocalist, lead guitarist and composer for the Moody Blues, his is an enduring talent that has helped to define the times in which he worked. Over the last forty-five years the band has sold 55 million albums and received numerous awards. Commercial success has gone hand in hand with critical acclaim, The Moody Blues are renowned the world over as innovators and trail blazers who have influenced any number of fellow artists.  Justin is honoured with the Moody Blues on the Rock Walk Hall of Fame on Sunset Boulevard and last year the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Born and brought up in Swindon in the UK, Justin’s interest in music started early when he was five years old and his grandfather bequeathed him his large collection of 78 rpm recordings. “It opened a world of imagination to me,” says Justin.  Having taught himself to play the ukulele, he soon progressed to guitar and by his early teens he was playing in local groups.  Upon leaving school at 17 he answered an advertisement in Melody Maker newspaper and successfully auditioned for UK Rock and Roll hero Marty Wilde. “I got the job playing guitar for Marty – it was a dream come true for me”. Justin credits Marty with encouraging him to become a songwriter; he made several recordings with Marty’s ‘Wilde Three’ and also appeared with them at the London Palladium.  They remain close friends to this day: “Marty is still my hero”.

Having started the ball rolling as a songwriter in his own right with a couple of solo singles, he joined the Moody Blues in the summer of 1966. Hitting his stride immediately with the single “Fly Me High”, he followed it up with the classic hit songs “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” from the seminal album Days of Future Passed. This album went on to become a favourite of the NASA astronauts and was taken aboard the Atlantis shuttle space craft by Chief astronaut “Hoot” Gibson on many missions.

This purple patch showed no sign of abating as Justin created other classic, era and genre-defining hits “Question”, “The Voice”, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”, “The Story In Your Eyes” and “Your Wildest Dreams”.  These laid the foundation for the incredible success story of the Moody Blues – as well as his solo work – which continues to this day.

When the Moody Blues took a break from touring in 1975, Justin worked on the Blue Jays album, followed by the hit single “Blue Guitar” (recorded with the members of 10cc). Although the Moodies continued to record and tour at the highest level, Justin also found time to create several solo albums: Songwriter, Night Flight, Moving Mountains and The View From the Hill.

In the 1980s, he was made a member of the famous “SODS” (The Society of Distinguished Songwriters) and in 2012 he was elected ‘King SOD’.  He also collaborated in 1989 with Mike Batt and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded the album Classic Blue.

Justin was presented with “The Golden Note” award from ASCAP in 2005, the top honour for a British writer, and he has appeared in Nashville regularly with other songwriters in showcase events. In 2013, The Performing Rights Society in the UK awarded him his second Ivor Novello statue for ‘Outstanding Achievement’.

Justin records in Italy and France of which he says, “Spending time making music in a beautiful place with your friends is every songwriter’s dream”. Justin undertook extensive solo tours in 2016, 2017 and 2018; and in 2019 Justin will again head out on the road bringing his wonderful music to his fans in North America.

As well as live shows, Justin has released several solo recordings; an album of new songs Spirits Of The Western Sky – for Eagle Rock – was released in 2013 followed by several solo tours, and in 2014 a “live in concert” DVD Spirits…Live was made available, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Video chart. 2016 saw the release of All The Way(Eagle Rock Entertainment), a compilation from Justin’s solo career. All The Way includes Justin’s solo songs, a recording with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, solo live performances and unique versions of classic Moody Blues tracks and the brand new song “The Wind Of Heaven.”

In January 2018, the news broke that The Moody Blues were finally to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This recognition comes not before time but means a great deal to the band.  At the time Justin commented, “I’m extremely grateful to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first for creating the supreme temple to all that has brought endless joy into my life since I was a small boy, and now, after all these years, for including us.

It’s a privilege to be celebrated in the same building, on the same street even, as my own heroes – Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers – and now, at last, with us, my heroine Nina Simone.

But all the thanks must go to The Moody Blues fans for giving us a wonderful, wonderful life in music – our induction has now validated the music they so love, and I’m so, so pleased, for us all. Yippee!”

Whilst the acceptance into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a truly global endorsement, it is of course the music that matters. 2018 saw the 50th anniversary of the Days Of Future Passed album.  The band marked this with some North American dates and the release of the concert recording Days Of Future Passed Live.

“I have spent most of my life, so far, on the road”, says Justin. “Playing live and creating a small piece of magic in a room is like a drug to me, one that I never want to give up”. His is a talent that has helped soundtrack more than a generation and created a legacy that remains undimmed.

Hayward is a talent that has helped soundtrack more than a generation and created a legacy that remains undimmed.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchase online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!