Rockford Rocked Interview: Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues

By Todd Houston
Exclusive to The Rock River Times

Justin Hayward, known primarily as the vocalist and lead guitarist for the Moody Blues, is an enduring talent that has helped to define the times in which he has worked. Over the years the band has sold over 70 million albums, received numerous awards, and influenced many performers.

Justin and the rest of the Moodies are no strangers to Rockford, having performed here many times over the last 30 years. On Wednesday, October 26 they are scheduled to return to Rockford’s historic Coronado Theater.

For this week’s column, Justin Hayward was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for some of our Rockford area fans.

John George Jr.: Hi Justin! Are you going to have The Rockford Symphony Orchestra back you up when you return to Rockford this time in October? That was an awesome and amazing show.

Justin Hayward: Sadly, no. I remember they were a great orchestra, and I hope one day we’ll do another orchestra tour.

John Brizzolara: How would Days of Future Passed be updated to describe a day in 2016?

JH: I think we would still make it around the story of one day in the life of everyman.

Larry Merryman: How did you get the guitar sound on Lovely Too See You Again? Was that the red Gibson ES 335 on that recording?

JH: Yes, that was my 1963 Cherry Red 335, direct into the normal channel on a VOX AC 30 – with top boost – and turned full up.

Jim Bossier: I’ve always enjoyed The Blue Jays album and the song Nights, Winters, Years. What was the inspiration for that particular song?

JH: I wanted to work with Peter Knight again. I had a song that I though we could record in a small session way, but when I played it to Peter he encouraged me to ‘open it up’ and so it just flowed.

Kate Mogg: I love the videos for I Know You’re Out There Somewhere and Wildest Dreams. Actress Janet Spencer-Turner appeared in both videos. Are you still friendly with her?

JH: I haven’t seen Janet since those golden days we all had together. I send her my best wishes. She was so perfect for that part.

Mike James: I thought Moody Bluegrass, a Nashville Tribute to Moody Blues was brilliant. In 2011 you did the country flavored song Cold Outside Your Heart. Do you plan on returning to that style of music anytime soon?

JH: As you may know I did a couple more songs with the same producer and musicians for my Spirits of the Western Sky album. I see those bluegrass boys and girls whenever I am in Nashville.  

Nick Perry: A few years ago you played a benefit for the Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. What was that like?

JH: I loved every moment. I have known Ian for some years now, and it was very kind of him to invite me on to his show. It was a special day.

William Kingrey: What do you miss about playing back in the day versus playing at today’s gigs if anything?

JH: I don’t miss much William. Touring is so much better now.

Todd Houston: In 1983 Stevie Ray Vaughan was the opening act for The Moody Blues including a show here in Rockford. Were you a fan of his music and/or guitar playing?

JH: I didn’t know him before our tour. I found him to be a sensational and dedicated player and a quiet, gracious man, and he was truly one of the greatest guitar players ever. I became an instant fan.

Janet Fisher: Looking forward to seeing you here in Rockford at The Coronado Theater in October! When you’re not on tour playing your own music onstage, what do you listen to when you get back home?

JH: I listen to a lot of classical music and with rock and pop, I’m back to my teenage years of ‘buying’ singles. Music is everywhere nowadays and there will always be a new record by a great new (to me) artist that I hear a fragment of and it turns me on. I don’t have any musical prejudices or dislike of any genres – it’s all okay to me.

Special thanks to Trace Foster.

5 thoughts on “Rockford Rocked Interview: Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues

  • July 27, 2016 at 12:41 pm
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    Knocked it out of the park again Todd, especially since my question about how he got that incredible sound out of his Gibson ES 335 on Lovely To See You Again. Now I’m in the market for a 1963 Gibson ES 335 and an old Vox AC 30……just because of that sound; and I might ad that I really like how Mr. Houston has done this interview using Rockford Rocked fans and their questions as the format. It shows a real appreciation for the readers’ interests and he incorporates them into his column. Great job Todd.

    • July 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm
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      Thanks for the kudos Larry, glad you enjoyed it. Mr. Hayward seems very gracious and modest.. and shows no sign of slowing down. Good luck on finding that Gibson guitar!

      (I also want to say thanks once again to my friend Trace Foster)

  • July 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm
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    I really enjoyed the format of this interview. I learned some interesting new information. The Moody Blues are my favorite group of all time and are the inspiration for the music that I write. I used to be a classical pianist and so Days of Future Passed was very special to me because it changed rock ‘n roll forever. And Justin has always been a favorite artist of mine, one of the best guitarists of all time.

  • July 28, 2016 at 7:57 am
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    I look forward to seeing him perform in Kent, England!

  • July 28, 2016 at 11:11 am
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    Thankyou for this great interview with Justin Hayward! He is indeed, a gracious, kind, and caring gentleman and I’m a devoted fan since 1967. I live in central Illinois, and cannot attend this Rockford concert in October. Wish I could!

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