November 3, 2018 –Glenn Schwartz (the James Gang) was born on March 20, 1940 in Cleveland Ohio. While in Los Angeles on tour with the James Gang in 1967, Schwartz strolled onto the infamous Sunset Strip and stopped next to a small group of people listening to street preacher Arthur Blessitt, according to Stevenson’s book. Some time later he professed conversion to Christianity, saying “I was finally blessed by mercy for I heard the Gospel of Christ.”
Following his conversion, his zealous, new-found faith was not accepted well by the band, his family or his friends. As per Stevenson, Schwartz said: “I had some Christian friends who had some round stickers that read ‘Real Peace Is In Jesus’ and we stuck those all over our clothes … We put some on Janis Joplin but she didn’t like it and took them off. I remember she got pretty upset. Continue reading Glenn Schwartz 11/2018
Tony Joe White – October 24, 2018 was born on July 23, 1943, in Oak Grove, Louisiana as the youngest of seven children who grew up on a cotton farm. He first began performing music at school dances, and after graduating from high school he performed in night clubs in Texas and Louisiana.
As a singer-songwriter and guitarist, he became best known for his 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie” and for “Rainy Night in Georgia”, which he wrote but was first made popular by Brook Benton in 1970. He also wrote “Steamy Windows” and “Undercover Agent for the Blues”, both hits for Tina Turner in 1989; those two songs came by way of Turner’s producer at the time, Mark Knopfler, who was a friend of White. “Polk Salad Annie” was also recorded by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.
In 1967, White signed with Monument Records, which operated from a recording studio in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee, and produced a variety of sounds, including rock and roll, country and western, and rhythm and blues. Billy Swan was his producer.
Over the next three years, White released four singles with no commercial success in the U.S., although “Soul Francisco” was a hit in France. “Polk Salad Annie” had been released for nine months and written off as a failure by his record label, when it finally entered the U.S. charts in July 1969. It climbed to the Top Ten by early August, and eventually reached No. 8, becoming White’s biggest hit.
White’s first album, 1969’s Black and White, was recorded with Muscle Shoals/Nashville musicians David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, and Jerry Carrigan, and featured “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” and “Polk Salad Annie”, along with a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”. “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” was covered by Dusty Springfield and released as a single, later added to reissues of her 1969 album Dusty in Memphis.
Three more singles quickly followed, all minor hits, and White toured with Steppenwolf, Anne Murray, Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other major rock acts of the 1970s, playing in France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and England.
In 1973, White appeared in the film Catch My Soul, a rock-opera adaption of Shakespeare’s Othello. White played and sang four and composed seven songs for the musical.
In late September 1973, White was recruited by record producer Huey Meaux to sit in on the legendary Memphis sessions that became Jerry Lee Lewis’s landmark Southern Roots album.By all accounts, these sessions were a three-day, around-the-clock party, which not only reunited the original MGs (Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. of Booker T. and the MGs fame) for the first time in three years, but also featured Carl Perkins, Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere & the Raiders), and Wayne Jackson plus The Memphis Horns.
From 1976 to 1983, White released three more albums, each on a different label. Trying to combine his own swamp-rock sound with the popular disco music at the time, the results were not met with success and White gave up his career as a singer and concentrated on writing songs. During this time frame, he collaborated with American expat Joe Dassin on his only English-language album, Home Made Ice Cream, and its French-language counterpart Blue Country.
In 1989, White produced one non-single track on Tina Turner’s Foreign Affair album, the rest of the album was produced by Dan Hartman. Playing a variety of instruments on the album, he also wrote four songs, including the title song and the hit single “Steamy Windows”. As a result of this he became managed by Roger Davies, who was Turner’s manager at the time, and he obtained a new contract with Polydor.
The resulting album, 1991’s Closer to the Truth, was a commercial successand put White back in the spotlight. He released two more albums for Polydor; The Path of a Decent Groove and Lake Placid Blues which was co-produced by Roger Davies.
In the 1990s, White toured Germany and France with Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton, and in 1992 he played the Montreux Festival.
In 1996, Tina Turner released the song “On Silent Wings” written by White.
In 2000, Hip-O Records released One Hot July in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years. The critically acclaimed The Beginningappeared on Swamp Records in 2001, followed by Heroines, featuring several duets with female vocalists including Jessi Colter, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Michelle White, on Sanctuary in 2004, and a live Austin City Limits concert, Live from Austin, TX, on New West Records in 2006. In 2004, White was the featured guest artist in an episode of the Legends Rock TV Show and Concert Series, produced by Megabien Entertainment.
In 2007, White released another live recording, Take Home the Swamp, as well as the compilation Introduction to Tony Joe White. Elkie Brooks recorded one of White’s songs, “Out of The Rain”, on her 2005 Electric Lady album. On July 14, 2006, in Magny-Cours, France, White performed as a warm-up act for Roger Waters’ The Dark Side of the Moon concert. White’s album, entitled Uncovered, was released in September 2006 and featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Eric Clapton, and J.J. Cale.
The song “Elements and Things” from the 1969 album …Continued features prominently during the horse-racing scenes in the 2012 HBO television series “Luck”.
In 2013, White signed to Yep Roc Records and released Hoodoo.Mother Jones called the album “Steamy, Irresistible” and No Depression noted Tony Joe White is “the real king of the swamp.” He also made his Live…with Jools Holland debut in London, playing songs from Hoodoo.
On October 15, 2014, White appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman alongside the Foo Fighters to perform “Polk Salad Annie”. Pointing to White, Letterman told his TV audience, “Holy cow! … If I was this guy, you could all kiss my ass. And I mean that.”
In May 2016, Tony Joe White released Rain Crow on Yep Roc Records. The lead track “Hoochie Woman” was co-written with his wife, Leann. The track “Conjure Child” is a follow up to an earlier song, “Conjure Woman.
The album Bad Mouthin’ was released in September 2018 again on Yep Roc Records. The album contains six self-penned songs and five blues standards written by, amongst others, Charley Patton and John Lee Hooker. On the album White also performs a cover of the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel”. White plays acoustic and electric guitar on the album which was produced by his son Jody White and has a signature Tony Joe White laid back sound.
White died of a heart attack on October 24, 2018, at the age of 75
Ed King, ( Lynyrd Skynyrd/Strawberry Alarm Clock) – September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018 was born in Glendale California and a guitar prodigy from early on in his life. Not even 18 years old, he became a founding member of the Los Angeles band Strawberry Alarm Clock, remembered for their 1967 #1 single “Incense and Peppermints.”
King met members of the future Lynyrd Skynyrd when they were opening for Strawberry Alarm Clock in early 1968. When Strawberry Alarm Clock disbanded, he became an official member of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972, replacing Leon Wilkeson on bass when Leon had left the band briefly. When Wilkeson rejoined the band King switched to lead guitar turning Skynyrd into the “guitar army” band, famous for its guitar fireworks.
He helped write “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974; the song became one of Skynyrd’s strongest hits and a staple of rock guitarists everywhere. It is King’s voice heard counting off 1-2-3 at the beginning of “Sweet Home Alabama.” Other songs that King wrote or co-wrote include “Poison Whiskey”, “Saturday Night Special”, “Whiskey Rock-a-Roller” and “Workin’ For MCA”. He appeared on the band’s first three albums, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, Second Helping, and Nuthin’ Fancy.
Ed King quit Lynyrd Skynyrd pretty much at the peak of their fame, mainly because he finally got fed up with Ronnie Van Zant’s mercurial ways.
Skynyrd had three guitarists — at that point, King and founding members Gary Rossington and Allen Collins — but King was an outsider from the start. All of the other band members had grown up in the same part of Jacksonville, Florida, while King wasn’t even a Southerner, but a native of Glendale, California. He was marvelously talented — that riff in “Sweet Home Alabama”? That was King’s creation — and he was valued for his abilities as both a musician and a songwriter, but he was never really “one of the gang”.
Of writing the song with bandmate Ronnie Van Zant, King claimed, “we wrote that song in half an hour, but it took us about a half a day to put it together. The song came real quick. I started off with that riff and Ronnie was sitting on the edge of the couch, making this signal to me to just keep rolling it over and over.”
In an interview shortly before his death from cancer in 2018, King pointed to the below photo as being illustrative of his place in the band — all by himself to the left, with the other guys all standing side by side:
In March of 1975, during a show in Ann Arbor, Michigan, King snapped two guitar strings while playing “Free Bird”, throwing off his performance. According to King, his guitar tech had not been around to change his strings because he had been thrown in jail, along with Van Zant, following an altercation with police.
Ronnie didn’t care why King’s strings broke; all he knew was that Ed had fucked up. He unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse on King, including such colorful pronouncements as “you don’t amount to a pimple on Allen’s ass”.
Following the incident, King said he returned to his hotel room, thinking “what the hell am I doing here?”, packed his belongings, and left without a word, leaving his bandmates to wake up the next morning to find out he was gone (and Rossington and Collins to scramble to rearrange the songs to make up for King’s absence).
About the decision to leave the band, King said “well, I was out of my mind for quitting. But it was the best thing I ever did. It just got a little too nutty for me. So, in the middle of the night, I just walked out. It had been a bad night the night before. I had gotten fed up with frankly all the violence. I had good reason to leave.”
King was ultimately replaced by Steve Gaines in 1976; Gaines would die in the 1977 plane crash that also killed his sister Cassie and Van Zant. King said he visited the cemetery after the crash to pay his respects, and it was then that he discovered that he and Steve had been born on exactly the same day: September 14, 1949. He felt he had dodged a huge bullet by quitting when he did.
King would later reconcile with the other band members, and rejoined them when they reformed Skynyrd in 1987, but had to leave the band due to to congestive heart failure problems in 1996. He had a heart transplant surgery in 2011. Both he and Gaines were among the band members inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
He died, presumably from cancer at his Nashville home on August 22, 2018.
Founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd Gary Rossington released a message on Twitter: ” I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened. Ed was our brother, and a great Songwriter and Guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock & Roll Heaven.”
Preston Shannon was born October 23, 1947 in Olive Branch, Miss., Shannon moved to Memphis at the age of 8. While his family was steeped in the culture and music of the Pentecostal church, it was blues and R&B that fired Shannon’s imagination.
Shannon first gained notice in the 1980s as a member of local group Amnesty while still working as a hardware salesman. His big break came after being discovered by soul singer Shirley Brown. Shannon’s distinctive vocals, often described as “a cross between Bobby Womack and Otis Redding” and supple guitar playing, set him on the path professionally.
In the early-’90s, Shannon stepped out on his own, launching a long run as one of the featured acts on Beale Street. Over the next three decades, Shannon would cut a familiar figure in the clubs on Beale, serving as a kind of musical ambassador to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who would visit each year. His efforts would earn Shannon the nickname “The King of Beale Street.”
In the ’90s, Shannon also began his solo recording career. Signing with indie label Rounder Records in 1994, he released his critically acclaimed debut, “Break the Ice,” featuring contributions from the Memphis Horns.
In 1993, his own Preston Shannon Band played at the Long Beach Blues Festival in Long Beach, California. After being spotted leading his own band in Memphis’ Beale Street clubs, he signed to Rounder Records subsidiary, Bullseye Blues, and released his debut solo effort, Break the Ice in 1994.
After this followed the Willie Mitchell produced efforts, Midnight in Memphis (1996) and All in Time (1999). However, with no immediate follow-up available, Preston lost momentum.Shannon’s next effort, 1996’s “Midnight in Memphis,” was produced by Hi Records legend Willie Mitchell, who would prove a frequent collaborator. The pair reunited for Shannon’s 1999’s record “All in Time.” Shannon would release a number of lauded albums over the years, including his 2014 tribute to Chicago bluesman Elmore James, titled “Dust My Broom.”
Among the songs he wrote are “Beale Street Boogaloo” and “Midnight in Memphis“.He was born in Olive Branch, Mississippi and relocated with his family to nearby Memphis, Tennessee at the age of eight.
After moving to Title Tunes, he released Be with Me Tonight (2006).
Shannon played at Memphis in May in both 2008 and 2011. In February 2012, Shannon appeared on season two of The Voice, singing “In the Midnight Hour”.
He was a regular performer at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis. Shannon’s most recent album release was Dust My Broom (2014).
Preston died of cancer on January 22, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 70.
January 15, 2018 – Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) was born Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan on September 6, 1971 brought up in Ballybricken, a town in County Limerick, Ireland. She was the daughter of Terence and Eileen O’Riordan and the youngest of seven children. She attended Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school in Limerick.
In 1990 O’Riordan auditioned for and won the role of lead singer for a band called the Cranberry Saw Us (later changed to the Cranberries). The band became a sensation as it released five albums: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999) and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) and a greatest-hits compilation entitled Stars: The Best of 1992–2002 (2002), before they went on hiatus in 2003.
In 2004, she appeared with the Italian artist Zucchero on the album Zu & Co., with the song “Pure Love”. The album also featured other artists such as Sting, Sheryl Crow, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Macy Gray and Eric Clapton. The same year she worked with composer Angelo Badalamenti on the Evilenko soundtrack, providing vocals on several tracks, including “Angels Go to Heaven”, the movie theme.
In 2005, she appeared on the Jam & Spoon’s album Tripomatic Fairytales 3003 as a guest vocalist on the track “Mirror Lover”. O’Riordan also made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy Click, released on 23 June 2006, as a wedding singer performing an alternate version of The Cranberries’ song “Linger”, set to strings. Her first single, “Ordinary Day”, was produced by BRIT Awards winner, Youth, whose previous credits include The Verve, Embrace, Primal Scream, U2 and Paul McCartney. O’Riordan made an appearance live on The Late Late Show on 20 April 2007.
Are You Listening? , her first solo album was released in Ireland in 4 May 2007, in Europe on 7 May, and in North America on 15 May. “Ordinary Day” was its first single, released in late April. The video for “Ordinary Day” was shot in Prague. In August “When We Were Young” was released as the second single from the album.
On 19 November 2007, she cancelled the remainder of her European Tour (Lille, Paris, Luxembourg, Warsaw and Prague) due to illness. In December she performed in a few small American clubs, including Des Moines, Nashville, and a well-received free show in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 2008, O’Riordan won an EBBA Award. Every year the European Border Breakers Awards recognise the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.
Dolores O’Riordan was known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice, her emphasized use of yodeling and for her strong Limerick accent. In January 2009, the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin) invited The Cranberries to reunite for a concert celebrating O’Riordan’s appointment as an honorary member of the Society, which led the band members to consider reuniting for a tour and a recording session. On 25 August 2009, while promoting her solo album No Baggage in New York City on 101.9 RXP radio, O’Riordan announced the reunion of the Cranberries for a world tour. The tour began in North America in mid-November, followed by South America in mid-January 2010 and Europe in March 2010. Also touring with the original members of The Cranberries was Denny DeMarchi, who played the keyboard for O’Riordan’s solo albums.
The band played songs from O’Riordan’s solo albums, many of the Cranberries’ classics, as well as new songs the band had been working on. On 9 June 2010 The Cranberries performed at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Thomond Park in Limerick. This was the first time the band had performed in their native city in over 15 years.
She appeared as a judge on RTÉ’s The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. Dolores O’Riordan began recording new material with JETLAG, a collaboration between Andy Rourke of The Smiths and Ole Koretsky, in April 2014. They then formed a trio under the name D.A.R.K. Their first album, Science Agrees, was released in September 2016.
On 26 May 2016, the band announced that they planned to start a tour in Europe. The first show was held on 3 June.
On the Personal Note:
On 18 July 1994, O’Riordan married Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran. The couple had three children. In 1998, the couple bought a 61-hectare (150-acre) stud farm, called Riversfield Stud, located in Kilmallock, County Limerick, selling it in 2004. They then moved to Howth, County Dublin, and spent summers in a log cabin in Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada. In 2009, the family moved full-time to Buckhorn.
In August 2013, she returned to live in Ireland. She and Burton split up in 2014 after 20 years together, and subsequently divorced. She was raised as a Roman Catholic. Her mother was a devout Catholic who chose her daughter’s name in reference to the Lady of the Seven Dolours. Dolores admired Pope John Paul II, whom she met twice, in 2001 and 2002. She performed at the invitation of Pope Francis in 2013 at the Vatican’s annual Christmas concert.
In November 2014, O’Riordan was arrested and charged in connection with air rage on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Shannon. During the flight she grew verbally and physically abusive with the crew. When police were arresting her after landing, she resisted, reminding them her taxes paid their wages and shouting “I’m the Queen of Limerick! I’m an icon!”, headbutting one Garda officer and spitting at another. Later she told the media that she had been stressed from living in New York hotels following the end of her 20-year marriage. The judge hearing her case agreed to dismiss all charges if she apologised in writing to those she injured and contributed €6,000 to the court poor box.
In May 2017, she publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed two years earlier. That same month, the Cranberries cited her back problems as the reason for cancelling the second part of the group’s European tour. In late 2017, O’Riordan said she was recovering and performed at a private event.
On 15 January 2018, at the age of 46, while in London for a recording session, Dolores O’Riordan died unexpectedly at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair. The cause of death was accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication.
Eddie Shaw was born on March 20, 1937 in Stringtown, Mississippi. In his teenage years, Shaw played tenor saxophone with local blues musicians, such as Little Milton and Willie Love. At the age of 14, he played in a jam session in Greenville, Mississippi, with Ike Turner’s band. At a gig in Itta Bena, Mississippi, when the then 20-year-old Shaw performed, Muddy Waters invited him to join his Chicago-based band.
In Waters’s band, Shaw divided the tenor saxophone position with A.C. Reed. In 1972 he joined Howlin’ Wolf, leading his band, the Wolf Gang, and writing half the songs on The Back Door Wolf (1973). After the singer’s death in 1976 he took over the band and its residency at the 1815 Club, renamed Eddie’s Place. Shaw led the band on Living Chicago Blues Vol. 1 and Have Blues – Will Travel (1980) and recorded albums with different backing for Isabel Records, Rooster Blues, and Wolf Records.
Shaw’s own recording career started in the late 1970s, with an appearance on the Alligator Records anthology Living Chicago Blues (1978) and his own LPs for Evidence and Rooster Blues, and more recent discs for Rooster Blues (In the Land of the Crossroads) and Wolf (Home Alone).
Shaw’s many contributions to the blues included arranging tracks for The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions (which featured Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr and others) and performing with blues notables, including Hound Dog Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Magic Sam (on his Black Magic album).
In 2013 and 2014, Shaw won the Blues Music Award in the category Instrumentalist – Horn. May 3 is Eddie Shaw Day in Chicago, by proclamation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Shaw died on January 29, 2018, at the age of 80.
One of his sons, Eddie “Vaan” Shaw Jr. (born November 6, 1955), joined the Wolf Gang and played on some of his father’s recordings. A disciple of Wolf’s protégé Hubert Sumlin who passed away on December 4, 2011, he has recorded two albums of his own – Morning Rain and The Trail of Tears.
Another son, Stan Shaw (born 1952), is a character actor based in Hollywood, California. (this made him father at the age of 15!)
January 4, 2018 – Ray Thomas (the Moody Blues) was born on December 29, 1941 in Stourport-on-Severn, England, of Welsh descent.
In the 1960s Thomas joined the Birmingham Youth Choir then began singing with various Birmingham blues and soul groups including The Saints and Sinners and The Ramblers. Taking up the harmonica he started a band, El Riot and the Rebels, with bass guitarist John Lodge. After a couple of years their friend Mike Pinder joined as keyboardist. El Riot and the Rebels once opened for The Beatles in Tenbury Wells; Thomas and Pinder were later in a band called Krew Cats, formed in 1963, who played in Hamburg and other places in northern Germany.Thomas and Pinder then recruited guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick to form a new, blues-based band, The Moody Blues. Signed to Decca Records, their first album, The Magnificent Moodies, yielded a No. 1 UK hit (No. 10 in the US) with “Go Now”. Thomas sang lead vocals on George and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from the musical Porgy and Bess.
When Warwick left the band (followed by Laine a few months later) he was briefly replaced by Rod Clark. Thomas then suggested his and Pinder’s old bandmate John Lodge as a permanent replacement and also recruited Justin Hayward to replace Laine. Hayward had actually given his demo tape to Eric Burden and the Animals, and Burden passed the tape on to the Moodies, as he had already hired a guitarist. With this line-up the band released seven successful albums between 1967 and 1972 and became known for their pioneering orchestral sound.
Although they initially tried to continue singing R&B covers and novelty tunes, they were confronted over this by an audience member, and with their finances deteriorating they made a conscious decision to focus only on their own original material.
Following the lead of Pinder, Hayward, and Lodge, Thomas also started writing songs. The first he contributed to the group’s repertoire were “Another Morning” and “Twilight Time” on the album Days of Future Passed. His flute had featured on three songs on the debut album—”Something You Got”, “I’ve Got a Dream”, and “Let Me Go”—as well as the single “From the Bottom of My Heart”, but it would become an integral part of the band’s music, even as Pinder started to use the Mellotron keyboard. Thomas has stated that a number of his compositions on the band’s earlier albums were made in a studio broom closet, with Thomas writing songs on a glockenspiel. Hayward has spoken of Thomas’s learning transcendental meditation in 1967, along with other members of the group.
Thomas and Pinder both acted as the band’s onstage emcees, as heard on the live album Caught Live + 5 and seen in the Live at the Isle of Wight Festival DVD. Thomas started to become a more prolific writer for the group, penning songs such as “Legend of a Mind”—an ode to LSD guru and friend of the band, Timothy Leary, and a popular live favorite—and “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume” for In Search of the Lost Chord, “Dear Diary” and “Lazy Day” for On the Threshold of a Dream as well as co-writing “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” with Hayward.
The Moody Blues formed their own record label Threshold Records, distributed by Decca in the UK and London in the US, and their first album on the Threshold imprint was To Our Children’s Children’s Children, a concept album about eternal life. Thomas wrote and sang “Floating” and “Eternity Road”.
When the band began to realize that their method of heavy overdubbing in the studio made most of the songs very difficult to reproduce in concert, they decided to use a more stripped-down sound on their next album A Question of Balance, to be able to play as many songs live as possible. It was their second UK No. 1 album. Thomas wrote and sang “And the Tide Rushes In”, reportedly written after having a fight with his wife, and was credited with co-writing the album’s final track “The Balance” with Edge, while Pinder recited the story.
The Moodies went back to their symphonic sound and heavy overdubbing with Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, their third UK No. 1 album, and Thomas wrote and sang “Our Guessing Game” and “Nice to Be Here”, also singing a co-lead vocal with Pinder, Hayward and Lodge on Edge’s “After You Came”. All five members wrote “Procession”.
The final album of the ‘core seven’ was Seventh Sojourn, their first album to reach No. 1 in the USA. By this time, Pinder had replaced his mellotron with the chamberlin, which produced orchestral sounds more realistically and easily than the mellotron. Thomas wrote and sang “For My Lady”.
Thomas released the albums From Mighty Oaks (1975) and Hopes Wishes and Dreams (1976) after the band temporarily broke up in 1974. During this period he earned his nickname ‘The Flute’. Within the band he was also known as ‘Tomo’ (pronounced tOm-O). The band reformed in 1977 for Octave, which was released in 1978. Thomas provided the songs “Under Moonshine” and “I’m Your Man”, and the group continued to release albums throughout the 1980s, with Thomas’s “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” and “Painted Smile” being featured on the album Long Distance Voyager. The former song has often been regarded as a theme song for the band itself as a whole and for Thomas in particular, and it again features his use of the harmonica. After contributing “Sorry” and “I Am” (both on the 1983 album The Present), Thomas temporarily stopped writing new songs for the band, for reasons unknown. He took featured lead vocal on Graeme Edge‘s song “Going Nowhere” (on The Present).
During the group’s synth-pop era, Thomas’s role in the recording studio began increasingly to diminish, partially due to the band’s synth-pop music being unsuitable for his flute and partially because he was also unwell during this period, meaning that his involvement in recording sessions was further limited. Despite contributing backing vocals on The Other Side of Life and Sur la Mer, he took no lead vocal role and it is unclear how much, if any, instrumentation he recorded for these two albums; but in any case, none of his instrumentation or vocals ended up on Sur la Mer. Although he is included in the childhood photos depicted on the album’s inner sleeve and is given an overall ‘group credit’, significantly (unlike the others) he is then not given an actual performing band credit at all. Patrick Moraz, who had replaced Pinder as the band’s keyboardist, objected to Thomas’s exclusion from the album and pushed for the band to return to the deeper sound that they had achieved with Pinder. It is possible that during the sessions for The Other Side of Life Thomas contributed tambourine, harmonica or saxophone, but it is unknown how many, if any, instrumental contributions of his ended up on the released version of the album, and at this point he was largely relegated to the role of a backup singer.
On The Moody Blues’ 1991 release Keys of the Kingdom, Thomas played a substantial role in the studio for the first time since 1983, writing “Celtic Sonant” and co-writing “Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain” with Justin Hayward. He contributed his first ambient flute piece in eight years; however, his health declined and his last album with the group was Strange Times to which he contributed his final compositions for the group. He also provided a co-lead vocal with Hayward and Lodge on their song “Sooner or Later (Walking On Air)”.
Thomas permanently retired at the end of 2002. In a 2014 interview with Pollstar.com, drummer Graeme Edge stated that Thomas had retired due to illness. The Moody Blues – consisting only of Hayward, Lodge and Edge (Edge being the only remaining original member) plus four long-serving touring band members, including Gordon Marshall on percussion and Norda Mullen who took over Thomas’ flute parts – have released one studio album, December, since his departure from the band.
In July 2009 it became known that Thomas had written at least two of his songs– “Adam and I” and “My Little Lovely”– for his son and his grandson Robert, respectively. It was also revealed that he had married again, to his longtime girlfriend Lee Lightle, in a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt, Wales, on 9 July 2009.
Thomas released his two solo albums, remastered, in a boxset on 24 September 2010. The set includes, with the two albums, a remastered quad version of “From Mighty Oaks”, a new song “The Trouble With Memories”, a previously unseen promo video of “High Above My Head” and an interview conducted by fellow Moody Blues founder Mike Pinder. The boxset was released through Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records.
In October 2014, Thomas posted this statement on his website:”After the tragic death of Alvin Stardust and the brave response to Prostate Awareness by his widow, Julie, in following up on what Alvin had intended to say about the disease, I have decided to help in some small way. I was diagnosed in September 2013 with prostate cancer. My cancer was in-operable but I have a fantastic doctor who immediately started me on a new treatment that has had 90% success rate. The cancer is being held in remission but I’ll be receiving this treatment for the rest of my life. I have four close friends who have all endured some kind of surgery or treatment for this cancer and all are doing well. While I don’t like to talk publicly about my health problems, after Alvin’s death, I decided it was time I spoke out. A cancer diagnosis can shake your world and your family’s but if caught in time it can be cured or held in remission. I urge all males to get tested NOW. Don’t put it off by thinking it won’t happen to me. It needs to be caught early. It’s only a blood test – a few minutes out your day to save yourself from this disease. Love and God Bless, Ray.”
Thomas died on 4 January 2018 of prostate cancer, at his home in Surrey, at the age of 76.
Although he most commonly played flute, Thomas was a multi-instrumentalist, who also played piccolo, oboe, harmonica, saxophone, and, on the album In Search of the Lost Chord, the French horn. He frequently played tambourine and also shook maracas during the group’s R&B phase. The 1972 video for “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” features Thomas playing the baritone saxophone, although Mike Pinder says on his website that this was just for effect in the video and that Thomas did not play saxophone on the recording.