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November, 24

Obituary: Graeme Edge, poet and last original member of The Moody Blues

Poet and drummer extraordinaire Graeme Edge has died aged 80. He was battling cancer. He was the last surviving member of the original Moody Blues band, which changed genre and membership over time.

Though they started out making R&B covers, Moody Blues became pioneers of progressive rock music. Describing their sound, Edge said: “If it didn’t feel right when you were laying on your back and listening and looking to the stars, then it wasn’t the Moody Blues.”

The group racked up an impressive three UK top 10 singles, alongside nine UK top 10 albums.

One of their early albums, Days of Future Passed is credited as one of the first concept albums. The songs were titled to represent a full day. It was recorded with the London Festival Orchestra, and is also noteworthy because it contained sounds from the mellotron (an earlier type of synthesiser).

The songwriting process for the track “The Day Begins” was very much inspired by the band’s routine. As musicians who got up late, they often struggled with early mornings. Edge came up with lyrics, but Tony Clarke suggested they were too verbose and might work better as spoken word. Keyboard player Mike Pinder ended up reading the poem on “The Day Begins”, because, as Edge explained, he had “a much more gravely kind of voice”.

One of their best-known songs is from that album. “Nights In White Satin” peaked at number nine in the UK charts in 1968, seven weeks after it had been released. At first, Edge admitted he did not recognise the song’s power but it charted in countries across Europe and went on to have recognition years after its release.

Edge was born in Rocester, Staffordshire to musical parents. On his paternal side, there were three generations of music hall singers. His mother, a classically trained pianist, played accompaniments for silent films.

The family moved to Birmingham when he was just three. By the age of 10, he had developed an interest in poetry.

Though he trained as a draughtsman, Edge ended up managing bands. When a drummer in one of the bands he managed quit, he stepped in. The band eventually found a replacement, but Edge enjoyed drumming and played with a number of bands over the years, including The Avengers.

Moody Blues formed in 1964, though they were originally called the M&B Five, and had hoped the local M&B brewing company would sponsor them.

In 2012, Edge released a book of poems. It contained his work, alongside anecdotes that offered a little background.

Though he never left the Moody Blues, he also performed in The Graeme Edge Band outfit, releasing the albums Kick Off Your Muddy Boots in 1975 and Paradise Ballroom two years later.

Edge is survived by his children Samantha and Matthew, and five grandchildren.

Graeme Edge, poet and drummer, born 30 March 1941, died 11 November 2021

Photo: provided by The i
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