Denny Laine, one of the original members of the Moody Blues and Wings, as well as co-writer of the group's massive-selling single, "Mull of Kintyre," has died at the age of 79. He had been in hospital care in Naples, Florida for the last few months with lung disease brought on by long-term Covid.
Laine's longtime bandmate Paul McCartney remembered the musician in a statement:
"I am very saddened to hear that my ex-bandmate, Denny Laine, has died. I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when the Beatles toured with the Moody Blues. Our two bands had a lot of respect for each other and a lot of fun together. Denny joined Wings at the outset. He was an outstanding vocalist and guitar player. His most famous performance is probably 'Go Now,' an old Bessie Banks song which he would sing brilliantly. He and I wrote some songs together the most successful being Mull of Kintyre' which was a big hit in the Seventies. We had drifted apart but in recent years managed to re-establish our friendship and share memories of our times together. Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people. He will be missed by all his fans and remembered with great fondness by his friends. I send my condolences and best wishes to his wife, Elizabeth and family. Peace and love Denny. It was a pleasure to know you."
Laine began his career as the lead vocalist of the Birmingham-based Moody Blues. The group — Laine, Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick — first gained success in November 1964 with a cover of American soul singer Bessie Banks' "Go Now."
Laine would stay with the band through their first album release, 1965's The Magnificent Moodies, and as their management company left them bankrupt, the group signed with the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, subsequently going on the road as one of the support acts for the Fab Four's final UK tour in December 1965.
Laine departed the Moody Blues in late 1966, forming the short-lived Electric String Band, sharing a bill in 1967 with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Procol Harum at the Savile Theatre in London. From there he recorded a number of solo songs and played with Ginger Baker's Air Force in 1970. Then in 1971, Laine, who was working on a solo album at the time, got a phone call from McCartney enquiring if he would like to work with him. As McCartney later recalled: "I'd known him in the past and I just rang him and asked him, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'Nothing', so I said, 'Right. Come on then!'"
Laine spent the next ten years as Wings' constant sideman. Through several change-ups and albums, Laine provided a grounding in musicianship, including his contributions to Wings' most successful album, Band on the Run.
Laine was also the jack-of-all-trades during the group's 1976 Wings Over America tour, handling guitar, bass, piano, harmonica, marching drum and singing lead on Paul Simon's "Richard Cory," "Time To Hide" and of course, "Go Now."
His most honored contribution as a songwriter and performer was his co-writing (with McCartney) of "Mull of Kintyre." Released in November 1977, the single spent nine weeks at the top of the charts and became that year's No. 1 Christmas single. Utilizing the Campbeltown Pipe Band, its anthemic narrative became the UK's biggest-selling non-charity single, a title still held to this day.
However, when Wings landed in Japan in January 1980, McCartney was immediately arrested for bringing in 219 grams of cannabis. Laine, guitarist Laurence Juber and drummer Steve Holley returned to England and McCartney was released after spending ten days in jail. These circumstances and the release of McCartney II effectively put an end to the band. While Laine would contribute to tracks for 1982's Tug of War, he left McCartney's tenure in April 1981.
Laine continued to release solo albums into the 1980s and 1990s and toured frequently with his own Denny Laine Band. In January 2023, he announced he was working on new material, however the future of those songs is unknown.