Though known today as musical pioneers who combined rock, classical music and psychedelia into sweeping soundscapes and lush, orchestral compositions, the Moody Blues were originally an R&B band trying to make a name for themselves as part of the British Invasion. After a few years of covering pop, soul and blues tunes, the band began to focus on writing and performing their own material and came to be regarded as one of the most unique and celebrated groups of their time.

Formed in Birmingham, England, the Moody Blues got their start in 1964 playing shows around the area. Within a few months they had management and a recording contract. Over the next two years, the band released numerous singles, some of them making it onto the charts in the U.K. and the U.S., but they didn’t begin to realize their potential until they put other people’s songs behind them and created their own unique sound.

The band’s musical reincarnation was as a psychedelic, genre-bending group whose debut album, Days of Future Passed, turned the rock world on its ear, establishing the Moody Blues as one of the top acts around and still regarded as a landmark recording of the ‘60s. The album is an orchestral masterpiece—the band enlisted the help of the London Festival Orchestra—that seamlessly blends masterful story-telling with grandiose instrumentation and a rock and roll edge that left critics and audiences both baffled and thrilled.

The Moody Blues had tapped into the elements of their sound that set them apart from everyone else. No longer were they another blue-eyed soul cover band; they were musical pioneers with a long and successful career ahead of them. They spent the next two decades as regulars on the pop charts and to this day remain a beloved and iconic band whose visionary music holds a unique place in the annals of rock.

The Moody Blues perform Friday, May 27 at the Mountain Winery.

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