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Ray Thomas

Celebrate the life of Prog Rock legend Ray Thomas: The kid from Birmingham who reached for the stars.

Ray Thomas was a founding member of the Moody Blues, rock & roll hall of famer and the man who brought the flute to rock and roll.

He was with the Moody Blues from the very beginning, from their roots as a Birmingham beat group to their reinvention as Gods of prog rock. Whether as a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist or flautist he was front and centre in every album until his retirement in 2002. Few people can match his impact on British music.

Thomas died in 2018 after a battle with prostrate cancer shortly before he was due to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. It was bad timing for a man who deserves his place among the greats.

He was, as his friend and fellow Moodies original John Lodge described, a ‘kid from Birmingham who reached for the stars.’

Here you can find out all you need to know about the man, the music and the legend.

Moody Blues: the founders of prog rock

For more than 40 years the Moody Blues have rocked our world.

Through the 60s and 80s the Moody Blues dominated British rock. Hit followed hit; album after album went platinum. Despite a brief hiatus in the mid 70s, they continued to weave their own particular spell for half a century. In 2018 they got the recognition they deserved with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Thomas was with them every step of the way. But the band he helped found in the sixties was very different from what we know today. Thomas earned his stripes with the Birmingham band El Riot and the Rebels in the early sixties. He formed the Moody Blues with keyboardist Mike Pinder, drummer Graeme Edge, bassist Clint Warwick and guitarist Denny Laine.

This first incarnation of the band fired brightly if briefly. They scored a Number One with one of their very first singles, Go Now, and their album the Magnificent Moodies.

Then they split.

But they bounced back almost immediately with a new sound and a new line up. Gone was Laine replaced by Justin Hayward and Warwick replaced by his El Riot band mate John Lodge. With them came a sound unlike anything ever before.

Success came quickly with the legendary album Days of Future Passed which fused rock with the orchestra and poetry. Telling the story of a day in the life of an ordinary man it established the Moody Blues at the heart of the prog rock revolution. A string of platinum albums followed including ‘On the Threshold of a Dream’ and ‘A Question of Balance’.

Thomas was at the centre of everything writing and singing many of their most famous hits including: ‘Twilight Time’, ‘Legend of the Mind’, ‘Dr Livingstone I Presume’, ‘Dear Diary’ and ‘The Tide Rushes In’. 

Then, at the height of their fame, they went their separate ways. During this time, Thomas released a couple of solo albums, ‘From Mighty Oaks’ and ‘Hopes, Wishes and Dreams’, but it wasn’t long before they were back together. 

More success followed through the eighties and nineties with ‘Long Distant Voyager’, ‘The Present’ and the ‘Other Side of Life’. Thomas continued touring with them until ill health made forced him to step away in 2002.

In 2015 he revealed to his fans on his website that he was being treated for inoperable prostrate cancer. It was in remission, he said, but would be with him for the rest of his life.

Thomas died in 2018 but he, along with the rest of the classic line up Hayward, Edge, Lodge and Pinder, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Laine was added a few days later cementing the band’s status as one of rock’s true legends.