British Rock Band Moody Blues Star Dies at 79

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Denny Laine, a pivotal figure in rock music history known for his roles in The Moody Blues and Paul McCartney’s band Wings, died on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at the age of 79. 

Laine’s death occurred in Naples, Florida, and was attributed to interstitial lung disease, a condition he had been battling.

Born in 1944 as Brian Frederick Arthur Hines, Laine was a cornerstone in the British music scene. He adopted his stage name in his early teens, partially in tribute to the singer Frankie Laine. His initial foray into the music world saw him lead Denny Laine and the Diplomats, a group that included stars like Roy Wood and Bev Bevan.

Laine’s breakthrough came in 1964 with the formation of The Moody Blues. He was a key vocalist on their debut hit, “Go Now,” a song that became a definitive ballad of the 1960s. The Moody Blues struggled to replicate their initial success, though, leading to Laine’s departure in 1966. This exit paved the way for Justin Hayward’s entry and the band’s subsequent shift towards a more classically influenced sound.

After leaving The Moody Blues, Laine explored various musical avenues, including stints with Ginger Baker’s Air Force and the Electric String Band. However, his most notable and sustained success came with Wings, a group he co-founded with Paul McCartney in the aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup. Wings thrived through the 1970s, with Laine, McCartney, and McCartney’s wife, Linda, remaining constants amidst numerous lineup changes. The group produced several No. 1 singles, most penned by McCartney, including “My Love,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” and “Band On the Run.” Laine’s songwriting talents shone through in the million-selling hit “Mull of Kintyre.”

Despite leaving Wings in the early 1980s, Laine continued to collaborate with McCartney, contributing to albums such as “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace.” He also provided backing vocals for George Harrison’s tribute to John Lennon, “All Those Years Ago.”

Laine’s later years saw him continue to tour and record, his discography expanding with albums like “The Blue Musician.” He remained a beloved figure in the rock community, evidenced by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues.

His passing was mourned by fans and colleagues alike, including McCartney, who offered a tribute to Laine’s talent and humor, reflecting on their shared memories and friendship. Laine’s wife, Elizabeth Hines, shared heartfelt words on social media, depicting a man who fought bravely against his health challenges while maintaining his love for music and family.

Denny Laine’s legacy in rock music is indelible, marked by his contributions to two of the most influential bands of the 20th century. His work shaped the sound of The Moody Blues and Wings and left a lasting impact on the genre as a whole.

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