Though the Moody Blues have slowed a bit recently after selling, oh, something like 55 million albums over the last 45 years, their guitarist, lead singer and principal songwriter Justin Hayward shows no signs of winding down.
Hayward joined the band in the summer of 1966, and helped lead them to nearly 50 years at the very apex of the music and entertainment industry. Yet early on, Hayward created a solo career releasing his first album Blue Jays – a collaboration with John Lodge – which reached the U.K. top five in 1975. He continued to prove he could write massive hits outside of the Moody Blues, reaching the Top Ten globally with 1978’s Forever Autumn. To date Hayward has released a dozen solo efforts.
“My acoustic solo tours give the perfect balance to the big production of the Moody Blues concerts,” he says. “I’m so lucky to have both.”
His parents gave him piano lessons at age 5, but they didn’t stick. “I found the math of the piano far too difficult,” Hayward says. After repeatedly pestering his parents for a guitar, they finally bought him a ukulele. It wasn’t until he was 10 that they finally relented.
His first big break happened when he was 17, when he answered a classified ad which led to a successful audition to join up with U.K. rock ‘n’ roll hero Marty Wilde, an association that led to several recordings along with an appearance at the London Palladium. But it was neither the studio nor the gigs that were most important to Hayward.
“Back then, Marty was one of the first rockers who were writing and singing their own songs live,” Hayward says. “He encouraged me to do the same, and that gave me the confidence to try writing songs. Marty is still my hero.”
These days, when he isn’t globe-trotting he resides in the south of France. “Songwriting is like having a room that no one else ever goes into,” Hayward says. “Spending time making music in a beautiful place with your friends is every songwriter’s dream.”
Touring with Hayward are ace acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes, keyboardist Julie Ragins and flautist Karmen Gould.
“I have spent most of my life, so far, on the road,” Hayward says. “Playing live and creating a small piece of magic in a room is like a drug to me, one that I never want to give up.”
JUSTIN HAYWARD 8pm Wednesday, Aug. 28. Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $37-$66. 649-1070, goldenstatetheatre.com