Moody Blues Celebrate 50th Anniversary of ‘Days of Future Passed’ With PBS Special
November 30, 2017
The iconic band prepares for a 2018 tour and possible Hall of Fame induction.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of their iconic 1967 album Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues have taped a live TV special for PBS, and are planning a North American tour launching in early January.
“A couple of years ago, I was thinking how best to celebrate the 50th anniversary, when I was fortunate enough to meet an arranger and conductor named Elliott Davis from Toronto’s World Festival Orchestra,” band founder Justin Hayward tells Billboard. The album’s original arranger Peter Knight had passed away in 1985, and Hayward said he was seeking a classical conductor to help recreate the sound of the 1967 album, which blended orchestral arrangements with psychedelic rock sounds to create one of the first concept rock albums of the 1960s.
“I could suddenly see a way where we could make it possible,” Hayward explains. “I found someone capable of recreating those parts on stage because in the past, it was very frustrating trying to recreate the album live. We had one group with a sound in the studio and another group that created the live sound on stage. We could never get the two to gel and sound the same. And it’s only in the last few years that that’s been possible.”
Days of Future Passed was first created to highlight the power of stereo recording and new high-fidelity home entertainment equipment. The Decca Records-produced album was a surprise hit that introduced a new generation of music fans to the power of stereophonic mixing and mastering.
“Decca had a consumer division and they were trying to get people interested in stereo sound, and trying to make that crossover,” Hayward tells Billboard, noting the Decca had the second largest classical catalog in the world at the time with “beautiful recording studios and hardly any rock acts using them.”
“The studios were almost too delicate, and I think that worked to our advantage, because the kind of music we were making was different than most rock acts,” Hayward said. “We had no commercial expectations for the album whatsoever. We were just trying to pay the rent and record something that was honest from our own hearts.”
The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live is now airing on PBS as part of WNET Thirteen and New York Public Media’s Great Performances series. The performance was taped July 7 at Toronto’s Sony Centre with the band performing the entire LP live with narration from English actor Jeremy Irons.
The PBS special airs as the band prepares itself for a 2018 tour that kicks off Jan. 10 at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida and runs through Louisiana, Texas and a Jan. 23 show at BOK Center in Tulsa, followed by four performances at the Wynn in Las Vegas (Jan 26, 27, 30 and 31). The Moody Blues are also nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, a first for the band.
To learn more about the Moody Blues and watch their PBS special, click here.