Denny Laine, the English singer and bassist renowned for founding the Moody Blues and Wings, has died at the age of 79. His musical career, which spanned six decades, earned him a well-deserved place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Denny Laine, originally named Brian Frederick Arthur Hines, entered the world on October 29, 1944, in the Channel Islands, a British Crown territory near the coast of France. Raised in Birmingham, he acquired his guitar skills during his school years, drawing inspiration from the music of gypsy jazz artist Django Reinhardt and his own partially Romany heritage.
At the age of 12, he delivered his inaugural solo performance. During his teenage years, he became a member of a nearby group, Johnny Dean and the Dominators. After a year, he transitioned to another ensemble, the Diplomats, and successfully convinced them to rebrand as Denny Laine and the Diplomats. His stage moniker, derived from his childhood nickname “Denny” and his admiration for the singer Cleo Laine.
The Diplomats experienced a pinnacle in July 1963 when they opened for The Beatles. Despite this success, the band struggled to secure its recording contract, prompting Laine to explore alternative opportunities. He initiated rehearsals with a different group, the Soul Preachers, which soon underwent a name change to the M&B Five. The intention behind this renaming was to attract sponsorship from a local brewery called Mitchell & Butlers for the potential publicity benefits.Following the unsuccessful attempt at sponsorship, they opted for another name change, retaining the initials and transforming into the Moody Blues.
The Moody Blues achieved a UK number one in 1965 with their second single, “Go Now,” composed by Larry Banks and Milton Bennet. Although subsequent singles didn’t replicate this success, they went on to launch six albums and establish a commendable standing in the progressive rock genre.
Subsequently, Laine embarked on new ventures, initially with a couple of unsuccessful solo tracks and a brief stint in another short-lived band. In 1971, he took on a pivotal role as a co-founder of Wings alongside Paul McCartney. Laine remained active in the music scene, participating in various supergroups and reunion tours until 2018. He passed away in Naples, Florida, on December 5.