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Passings: Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues (1941 - 2018)

by VVN Music

Ray Thomas, the singer and multi-instrumentalist for the Moody Blues, died on Thursday (January 4) after a multi-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 76.

His record company announced his passing on Sunday (January 7):

It is with profound sorrow and sadness that Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings regret to announce that Ray Thomas, founder member, flautist and vocalist of the Moody Blues, passed away suddenly at his home in Surrey on Thursday 4th January 2018.

We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness. It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.

Born in Stourport-on-Severn, England, Thomas began his musical career in a series of rock and blues bands including El Riot and the Rebels where he met future bandmate John Lodge. Mike Pinder also joined a couple of years later.

The band broke up when Lodge went to college and Pinder entered the army. After his release, Thomas and Pinder began playing together again in the Krew Kuts, eventually bringing in Denny Laine, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick to form the Moody Blues.

This original version of the band had an international hit in 1965 with their second single "Go Now" and followed with their debut album, The Magnificent Moodies but subsequent releases did not do well and, when Warwick retired from music and Laine left the group, they effectively disbanded.

In November 1966, a second version of the Moody Blues formed with the addition of Lodge and Justin Hayward and the head of Decca Records charged them with recording a rock version of Dvorak's New World Symphony.  While that project was never completed, it did set the band on the road to orchestral accompanied rock which came to fruition with their album Days of Future Passed.

Thomas began writing music for the band around this time with the new album including his songs "Another Morning" and "Twilight Time".  He would go on to write other group favorites including "Legend of a Mind", "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume", "Dear Diary", "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" and "For My Lady".

Between 1967 and 1972, the Moody Blues released seven albums that have gone on to become classics of progressive and orchestral rock including In Search of the Lost Chord, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn but, in 1974, they broke up, allowing Thomas to test the solo waters with the albums From Mighty Oaks (1975) and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams (1976).

The Moody Blues reformed in 1977 and continued to release albums but Thomas' contributions began to diminish as they moved to a more modern sound in the 80's. Ray did contribute to their albums during the 90's but, due to failing health, he left the band in 2002.

In October 2013, Thomas announced that he had been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer and was being treated with an experimental drug.

Last month, the Moody Blues were named in the latest class to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.