The band began their set with a high-energy triptych that hopscotched across decades. “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” which originally came out in the early 1970s, built around a thick, rubbery bass line and a giddy hook. It fit easily next to “Your Wildest Dreams,” a cheerful, harmony-slathered track that became the Moody Blues’ last major U.S. hit when it was released in 1986. Next came “Ride My See-Saw,” a blistering rocker from the 1960s with long, sighing vocal melodies and a knotty guitar solo.
After this display of speed and power, Moody Blues slowed the tempo drastically to perform “Nights in White Satin,” an unhurried, infatuated ballad that marched up the U.S. charts in 1972. This song served as a tender, sentimental set-closer. The stately track ended with a crescendo of instrumentation as Justin Hayward sang “I love you” over and over.
The Moody Blues – “I’m Just A Singer”
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Heart singer Ann Wilson, whose band joined the Rock Hall in 2013, welcomed the band into the institution with a speech earlier in the evening. The Moody Blues have been eligible for induction since 1990 but were not nominated until this year. The band members included in the induction were vocalist-guitarist Justin Hayward, bassist John Lodge, drummer Graeme Edge, guitarist Denny Laine, keyboardist Mike Pinder and the band’s erstwhile flautist, Ray Thomas, who died in early January.
“I’m extremely grateful to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for two things: For creating the supreme temple to something that has brought me endless joy since I was a little boy … [and] after all these years [that] they are including us,” Hayward told Rolling Stone in December.
The Moody Blues – “Ride My See-Saw”
The Rock Hall chose not to induct founding bassist Clint Warwick and middle-era keyboardist Patrick Moraz, facts that did not matter too much to Hayward. Moreover, at the time, he seemed surprised that Laine was included. “There’s Denny Laine and Clint [Warwick], the original bassist who was kind of forgotten,” he said. “More importantly, I would have thought that Denny would have been inducted with Wings.” When Rolling Stone clarified that McCartney had been brought in solo, Hayward gave Laine credit for co-writing Wings’ hit “Mull of Kintyre.”
The Moody Blues – “Your Wildest Dreams”
At the time of the interview, all Hayward hoped the band would play at the ceremony was their biggest song, “Nights in White Satin,” off their Days of Future Passed LP. In another interview with Rolling Stone, Hayward explained why he felt that song has endured for half a century. “It’s never lost the meaning,” he said. “It only works if you do it from the heart. I can only do it that one way. It’s still just a series of random thoughts of a young person, but I’m very pleased that people are able to share that and it resonates. It’s a record with almost nothing on it, except a lot of echo. But it’s a mysterious kind of record too.”
Additional reporting by Andy Greene