The British Invasion quintet The Moody Blues debuted in the U.S. Top 40 in early 1965 with “Go Now!” The single reached No. 10 with Graeme Edge on drums, who passed away November 11 at age 80 in Florida. Two years later, significant personnel changes happened in the group with guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge joining the band for their creative orchestrated album Days of Future Passed. At the end of Hayward’s composition “Nights in White Satin,” there was a poem called “Late Lament” which Edge wrote, beginning with the words, “Breathe deep.” In his 2017 Goldmine interview Edge said, “I was trying to write a song lyric, and when I finished, I gave it to the boys and suggested they put some music to it. They said it was fabulous, but it was much too wordy to sing. Our producer Tony Clarke said that it was a poem and that I should just read it, but at the time my voice was too squeaky, so we asked our keyboardist Mike Pinder to deliver it because he had the right kind of voice. That became sort of a tradition and we became known for it, so one of my jobs became to sort of thread the needle with the theme of each album by writing a poem.”
The new members in The Moody Blues grew close to Graeme Edge. Justin Hayward said, “Graeme’s sound and personality is present in everything we did together and thankfully that will live on. In the late 1960s, we became the group that Graeme always wanted it to be, and he was called upon to be a poet as well as a drummer. He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly. Graeme and his parents were very kind to me when I first joined the group and for the first two years, he and I either lived together or next door to each other. We had fun and laughs all the way as well as making what was probably the best music of our lives.”
John Lodge quoted the poem “The Dream” from the group’s 1969 album On the Threshold of a Dream which opened with the line, “When the white eagle of the north is flying overhead.” Lodge said, “To me he was the white eagle of the north with his beautiful poetry, his friendship, his love of life and his unique style of drumming that was the engine room of the Moody Blues. I will miss you Graeme.”
The seventh album, with what is considered the classic Moody Blues lineup, was called Seventh Sojourn. Side two began with a Hayward and Edge composition “You and Me” and ended with Lodge’s “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” which was fun to watch live with Edge’s enthusiastic drumming. The group then took a break and issued solo and project albums in the mid-1970s including a pair from The Graeme Edge Band featuring Adrian Gurvitz, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom.
The group reunited in 1978 with the album Octave, followed by a personal favorite album of Edge’s, Long Distance Voyager featuring the Top 20 singles “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice.” The flip side of “The Voice” was Edge’s composition “22,000 Days,” filled with harmonies and swirling keyboards from Patrick Moraz. Edge, inspired by what was considered to be the average life expectancy at the time, wrote, “22,000 days, it’s not a lot, it’s all you got,” encouraging listeners to make the most of life, which Edge certainly did, spending close to 22,000 days as an iconic member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s The Moody Blues.
The Moody Blues
Flip side: 22,000 Days
A side: The Voice
Billboard Top 100 debut: August 8, 1981
Peak position: No. 15
Threshold TR 602