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Denny Laine (born Brian Frederick Hines, 29 October 1944) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was an original member of the Moody Blues, singing the band’s first hit “Go Now” in 1964, and in 1970 played lead guitar on Ginger Baker’s debut album, and with Paul McCartney and Wings from 1971 to 1981. In 2018 as a founding member of the Moody Blues, Laine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Laine was born in Tyseley, Birmingham, where he attended Yardley Grammar School, and took up the guitar as a boy, inspired by gypsy jazz musician Django Reinhardt. He gave his first solo performance as a musician at the age of 12 and began his career as a professional musician fronting Denny Laine & the Diplomats, which also included future Move and Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan.
The Moody Blues
In 1964, Laine left the Diplomats, shortly afterwards, he received a call from Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder to form a new band, The M&B 5, which eventually was changed to The Moody Blues and sang the group’s first big hit, “Go Now“; other early highlights included “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You”, another UK hit, and the two minor UK chart hits “From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)” and “Everyday”, both written by Laine and Pinder. He also sang on “Can’t Nobody Love You” and “Bye Bye Bird” which was a hit in France. A self-titled EP and The Magnificent Moodies LP on Decca followed. Laine and Pinder wrote most of the band’s B-sides during the 1965-66 period, such as “You Don’t (All the Time)”, “And My Baby’s Gone” and “This Is My House”. However, Laine’s tenure with the band was relatively short-lived and, after a number of comparative chart failures, Laine quit the band in October 1966. He was replaced by Justin Hayward. The last record issued by the Moody Blues that featured Laine was “Life’s Not Life” b/w “He Can Win” in January 1967.
Electric String Band and early solo career
After leaving the Moody Blues, Laine formed the Electric String Band in December 1966, which featured himself on guitar and vocals, Trevor Burton (of the Move) on guitar, Viv Prince (ex-Pretty Things) on drums, Binky McKenzie on bass guitar, and electrified strings in a format not dissimilar to what Electric Light Orchestra would later attempt. In June 1967, the band shared a bill with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Procol Harum at the Saville Theatre in London. However, it did not achieve national attention, and the Electric String Band broke up.
At the same time, Laine recorded two singles as a solo artist: “Say You Don’t Mind”/”Ask The People” (April 1967, Deram) and “Too Much in Love”/”Catherine’s Wheel” (January 1968, Deram). Both failed to chart, although “Say You Don’t Mind” became a #15 hit in 1972 when recorded by former Zombies frontman Colin Blunstone.
Balls and Ginger Baker’s Air Force
Laine and Burton then went on to the band Balls from February 1969 until the band’s breakup in 1971, with both also taking time to play in Ginger Baker’s Air Force in 1970.
Only one single was issued by Balls: “Fight for My Country”/”Janie, Slow Down” on UK Wizard Records. The top side was re-edited and reissued on UK Wizard and issued in the UK on Wizard and in the United States on Epic under the name of Trevor Burton; Laine and Burton shared lead vocals on the B side. The single was reissued again as B.L.W. as “Live in the Mountains” for a small Pye-distributed label, “Paladin”. Twelve tracks were recorded for a Balls album, but it has never been released.
In 1971, Laine joined Paul McCartney to form Wings, and stayed with the group for 10 years until it disbanded in 1981. Laine provided lead and rhythm guitars, lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass guitar and woodwinds, as well as writing or co-writing some of the group’s material. Laine, McCartney, and McCartney’s wife, Linda McCartney formed the nucleus of the band to which it was also reduced twice. The albums Band on the Run and London Town were written and recorded by Wings as a trio. Denny Laine’s second solo album Holly Days released in that period was also recorded by Wings core trio.
With Wings, Laine enjoyed the biggest commercial and critical successes of his career, including co-writing the hit “Mull of Kintyre“, which reached #1 in the UK in 1977, and became the UK’s highest-selling single until that time. Laine also co-wrote and sang lead vocal on “Deliver Your Children“, which was released as a Wings B-side but charted in the Netherlands.
In January 1980, McCartney was arrested for possession of marijuana on arrival at an airport for a tour in Japan. The tour was cancelled and the band members, except Linda, returned to England. After returning to England, McCartney decided to release his solo album, McCartney II, and plans for an autumn Wings U.S. tour were dropped. Meanwhile, as the band’s future was uncertain Laine released a solo album, Japanese Tears, that December, with the title track as the single. He also formed the short-lived Denny Laine Band with Wings member Steve Holley. On 27 April 1981, Laine announced he was leaving Wings due to McCartney’s reluctance to tour in the wake of John Lennon’s murder. However, Laine did work on McCartney’s Tug of War and Pipes of Peace albums and has co-written one more song with McCartney, “Rainclouds“.
Laine signed with Scratch records and began working on a new album, Anyone Can Fly. He then went on to record other solo albums such as Hometown Girls, Wings on My Feet and Lonely Road before returning to Scratch to do his Wings at the Sound of Denny Laine. He has also had three fanzine publications, Ahh Laine, wrote the musical Arctic Song and released two more albums, Master Suite and Reborn.
From 1997 to 2002, he toured with the rock supergroup World Classic Rockers. He left the World Classic Rockers and now tours as a solo artist with his band,The Denny Laine Band, and teams up with other bands on occasion.
[Denny Laine] came round to see me and brought a guitar and we played some things together. We showed him the chords and we went straight into the studios, worked on the backing tracks and, within two days, it was finished…
I was thinking of getting another guitarist and I knew Denny and thought he was a good singer. I thought Go Now was fabulous. He was an old school friend of mine. When we evacuated during the war, we went to Birmingham and then he was Brian Hines, which is his original name, and we went around a bit. I met him later when he was in The Moody Blues. We [The Beatles] toured with them and this cemented our friendship.Paul McCartney
I knew Paul. We used to go out and see people. We’d go out and see Dylan or Jimi Hendrix or The Lovin’ Spoonful or whatever. We’d go see American bands that came over to England just because we were curious. So, I had pretty much a friendship with him because I was in London at the time. And that’s how I got to know him. George Harrison was also our neighbor when I was in The Moody Blues. … They (The Beatles) used to come by and play us their demos and their acetates. We were pretty close with them. We were both fans of each other. … We all started out together as kids, reallyDenny Laine, Interview with Tallahassee Democrat, 2017
Last updated on November 21, 2018
Songs written or co-written by Denny Laine