Graeme Edge, the drummer and co-founder of the British band the Moody Blues, for whom he wrote lots of the spoken-word poems that, appended to songs like “Nights in White Satin,” made the group a pioneer within the progressive rock motion of the Sixties and ’70s, died on Thursday at his house in Bradenton, Fla. He was 80.
Rilla Fleming, his associate, mentioned the trigger was metastatic most cancers.
The Moody Blues first gained consideration as a part of the British Invasion that dominated the American rock scene within the mid-Sixties. Their repertoire initially consisted largely of R&B covers, however by their second album, “Days of Future Handed” (1967), they’d developed the mix of orchestral and rock music that will make them well-known.
“Within the late Sixties we turned the group that Graeme all the time wished it to be, and he was referred to as upon to be a poet in addition to a drummer,” Justin Hayward, the band’s lead singer, wrote in a statement on the Moody Blues website after Mr. Edge’s demise. “He delivered that fantastically and brilliantly, whereas creating an environment and setting that the music would by no means have achieved with out his phrases.”
Mr. Edge’s mesmerizing drumming and introspective poetry had been an enormous a part of the group’s success. The Moody Blues are most likely finest remembered for “Nights in White Satin” (1967), a darkly ruminative track that ends, within the authentic album model, with “Late Lament,” written by Mr. Edge and skim by the keyboardist Mike Pinder. (It was lacking from the shorter model launched for radio.)
Although Mr. Pinder’s sonorous baritone and the poem’s opening strains — “Breathe deep the gathering gloom” — make the poem sound melancholy, even foreboding, it was meant to be uplifting, Mr. Edge mentioned.
“I feel it’s the enjoyment, the spirit that makes it,” he mentioned in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2018. “It’s a younger boy discovering that he loves any individual for the primary time, and he simply desires to shout it out from the hills — and shout it out once more!”
“Nights in White Satin” was not initially a success, nevertheless it reached the High 10 when it was rereleased in 1972. (Their solely different High 10 singles had been their first hit, “Go Now!,” in 1964, and the up-tempo “Your Wildest Dreams” in 1986.) It got here to be thought to be a musical landmark — one of many first to emerge from the burgeoning prog-rock motion, which additionally included bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The Moody Blues had different hits within the late Sixties and early ’70s, together with “Tuesday Afternoon,” “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” and “Ride My See-Saw,” earlier than happening hiatus from 1974 to 1977. Throughout that point, Mr. Edge sailed around the globe in his 70-foot yacht and launched a number of solo albums.
The band discovered a second wind within the Eighties, when it put aside its prog-rock previous and embraced a synthesizer-driven pop sound. They launched their final album, “December,” in 2003, however continued to tour commonly afterward.
“I by no means get uninterested in taking part in the hits,” Mr. Edge instructed The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2008. “You’ve an obligation. You play ‘Nights in White Satin’ for them. You’ve acquired to play ‘I’m Only a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band),’ and also you’ve acquired to play ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and also you’ve acquired to play ‘Query.’ It’s your responsibility, and their proper.”
Graeme Charles Edge was born on March 30, 1941, in Rochester, a metropolis in southeastern England. When he was 3 his household moved to Birmingham, the place he grew up.
He got here from a musical household: His mom, a classically skilled pianist, labored in a movie show taking part in the accompaniment to silent movies, and his father was a music-hall singer, as had been his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather.
Mr. Edge’s two marriages resulted in divorce. Along with Ms. Fleming, he’s survived by his daughter, Samantha Edge; his son, Matthew; and 5 grandchildren.
When he was about 10, he heard Invoice Haley and the Comets’ “Ten Little Indians” on the radio and instantly fell in love with rock ’n’ roll. Although he skilled to be a draftsman, his first job was managing an R&B band in Birmingham.
When that band’s drummer give up unexpectedly, Mr. Edge was employed as a brief substitute. He had by no means performed drums earlier than, however he discovered shortly, and when the band employed one other drummer, he purchased his personal equipment and determined to grow to be a musician.
He based and performed in a number of bands earlier than he and 4 different musicians — Denny Laine, Ray Thomas, Clint Warwick and Mr. Pinder — fashioned the MB 5 in 1964. They quickly renamed themselves the Moody Blues.
Their first hit was “Go Now!” a canopy of an R&B track initially recorded by Bessie Banks. However Mr. Edge fearful that taking part in different folks’s songs would take them solely to this point. After Mr. Laine and Mr. Warwick left and Mr. Hayward and John Lodge joined, the band determined to take a brand new method.
They had been large admirers of the Beatles’ use of an orchestra on a few of their songs, they usually determined to develop a sound that blended rock with classical instrumentation. Although they later recorded and toured with an orchestra, their first efforts employed a mellotron, an analog antecedent to the digital synthesizer.
The ensuing sweep of strings and horns that performed via their songs, together with Mr. Edge’s poetry, gave the Moody Blues a repute as a pondering particular person’s rock band, among the many earliest exponents of what got here to be referred to as art-rock.
“We used to assume that we had been aiming on the head and the guts, relatively than the groin,” Mr. Edge instructed The South Bend Tribune in Indiana in 2006.
The Moody Blues have bought greater than 70 million albums and in 2018 had been inducted into the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame in Cleveland. Fittingly for a track from a band as soon as identified for its covers, “Nights in White Satin” has been lined greater than 140 occasions.
Clint Warwick died in 2004. Ray Thomas died in 2018.
Mr. Edge suffered a stroke in 2016 and retired from touring in 2019, however he remained an official member of the band till his demise — the one remaining member of the unique quintet, fashioned nearly 60 years earlier.