Meaning Behind the Band Name: The Moody Blues

Though fellow English rock bands the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and many others were dominating the music scene in England and across the pond in America in the 1960s, another group that spoke to fans was The Moody Blues. With hits like “Go Now,” “Nights in White Satin” and “The Voice,” The Moody Blues are known for their distinct fusion of rock and classical music that paved the way for progressive rock. The band earned its place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Below, we look at the history of the band’s signature name.

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Meaning Behind the Band Name

Years before there was The Moody Blues, there was El Riot & the Rebels, a rock band formed in Birmingham, England, in 1958 by Ray Thomas and John Lodge. The pair were soon joined by keyboardist Mike Pinder. After Lodge left in 1963, Pinder and Thomas focused their sights on a new band known as the Krew Kats. Less than a year later, the pair abandoned the Krew Kats after failing to achieve success. Meanwhile, future bandmates Clint Warwick, Graeme Edge and Denny Laine were performing in their band, R&B Preachers.

In 1964, the five musicians joined forces for a new band named M & B Five, choosing the name in hopes of enticing the Birmingham-based brewery that owned many of the live music clubs, Mitchells & Butlers Brewery, to provide financial backing for the band. After their hopes of securing financial support from the company were dashed, Pinder came up with a new band name that holds more depth, The Moody Blues.

“At that time, I was very interested in the fact that music changed our moods,” Pinder describes in an archived 2015 interview with Classic Bands about the meaning of the name. “I had made the realization then. It had magical qualities to do things like that.”

To keep the established letters in their name, Pinder selected “moody” to represent the “M” and “blues” for the letter “B.” It was the latter word that came to Pinder’s mind first, as the band was performing blues music at the time and were influenced by several artists in the genre.

“We were playing rhythm and blues and blues music. In particular, people like Sonny Boy Williamson were touring England, a lot of American blues singers were touring, and we became a backup band for those guys,” Pinder explains. “So, we were backing up people like Sonny Boy Williamson and Memphis Slim, guys like that.

“So we’re playing a lot of blues. It was very easy to come up with blues for that, and the moody with an M because of my interest in the mood affecting changes of music,” he continues. “That’s how the name Moody Blues kind of happened, tied in with the M and B beer.”  

For a decade between 1964 and 1974, the band released eight studio albums, six of which hit the top 20 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S. They’ve released a total of 16 albums, their last being December in 2003. The group broke up in 1974 and reunited in 1977, with various reunions taking place until 2018 when they broke up permanently.

(Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

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