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R.I.P. Mike Pinder: The Moody Blues Keyboardist and Founding Member Dead at 82

Pinder, the last surviving founding member of the Moody Blues, was known for his pioneering use of the Mellotron.

john lodge mike pinder
Source: MEGA

John Ledge, left, announced his former bandmate's passing on social media.

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Mike Pinder, the Moody Blues' original keyboardist and last surviving founding member, has died. His former bandmate John Lodge, who joined the Moody Blues in 1966, announced the news on social media with a statement from Pinder's family. "Michael Thomas Pinder died on Wednesday, April 24th, 2024 at his home in Northern California, surrounded by his devoted family," Lodge shared. "Michael's family would like to share with his trusted friends and caring fans that he passed peacefully. His final days were filled with music, encircled by the love of his family." Pinder was 82.

Pinder's bandmate Denny Laine, a longtime member of Paul McCartney's band Wings, also passed away in December. "Very sad news, the last of the original lineup of the Moody Blues has passed away," Laine's widow Elizabeth Mele-Hines wrote on Instagram. "He is now reunited with Denny, Ray, Graeme and Clint; what a joyous reunion that must be. Several years ago, Mike's wife, Tara, told Denny and I that Mike always played 'Go Now' whenever a piano was in the room, it was always special. Rest in peace and give my Denny a hug."

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moody blues
Source: MEGA

Pinder formed the Moody Blues in 1964.

Pinder formed the Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow Birmingham musicians Ray Thomas, Denny Laine, Clint Warwick, and Graeme Edge. They released their breakthrough single, a cover of Bessie Banks' "Go Now," the following year, and their debut album The Magnificent Moodies, on which Pinder sang lead vocals on a cover of James Brown's "I Don't Mind," arrived a few months later.

Warwick and Laine, who had been Pinder's songwriting partner, left the band in 1966, and Pinder chose singer and guitarist Justin Heyward and bassist John Lodge as their replacements. With the band's classic lineup solidified — and a secondhand Mellotron purchased — the Moody Blues shifted from R&B-oriented material into psychedelia and eventually prog-rock.

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moody blues
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Pinder wrote and sang lead on many of the Moodies' more psychedelic songs.

"The Mellotron enabled me to create my own variations of string movements. I could play any instrument that I wanted to hear in the music. If I heard strings, I could play them with the Mellotron. If I heard cello, brass, trumpets or piano, I could play them. With the ‘Tron I could develop melodies and counter melodies within the Moody Blues’ songs. When you become the orchestra, I think you become the arranger by default. I could create the backdrops and the landscape for the melodies that the guys were writing," Pinder told Rolling Stone in an oral history of the band’s 1967 hit "Nights in White Satin."

In addition to his pioneering Mellotron work, Pinder wrote and sang lead on many of the Moodies' more psychedelic songs. He famously introduced the Mellotron to the Beatles and played on John Lennon's 1971 album Imagine. He released his first solo album, The Promise, in 1976, and left the Moody Blues for good after 1978 Octave, with former Yes member Patrick Moran serving as his replacement.

Pinder largely stayed out of the public eye for the next couple of decades, working as a consultant for the Atari company and starting a family in California. He released more solo music in the '90s, and in 2018, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues, although he was the only member of the band not to speak at the ceremony.

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moody blues
Source: MEGA

Pinder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues in 2018.

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"He created his music and the message he shared with the world from this spiritually grounded place; as he always said, ‘Keep your head above the clouds, but keep your feet on the ground,'" Pinder's family said in a statement on Thursday. "His authentic essence lifted up everyone who came into contact with him. His lyrics, philosophy, and vision of humanity and our place in the cosmos will touch generations to come."

"Mike was a natural born musician who could play any style of music with warmth and love," Pinder's bandmate Justin Hayward added. "His re-imagining and rebuilding (literally) of the Mellotron gave us our identifiable early sound. He was a huge part of my own musical journey. My sincere condolences to his loving and devoted family."


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