The story of singer/songwriter Justin Hayward, who appears October 31st at the Borgata Music Box, is a strange tale of a musician taken over and heavily influenced by a diabolical device known as the Mellotron.
This spooky machine led to one of the most influential symphonic rock bands of all time making late laments and giving their sound over to an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard.
Ok, it’s not scary at all. We’re stretching.
The truth is that Hayward, longtime lead singer of The Moody Blues and writer of such hits as “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Question” is playing the Music Box on Halloween because, well it’s a Friday and a big party—Halloween is always a party at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa—and that’s always a good time to bring in one of the legendary stars of classic rock.
And Hayward certainly qualifies as the frontman for the band’s glory days starting in 1966 and penning most of The Moody Blue’s biggest hits.
The Moodies were also one of the groups that used the Mellotron keyboard to create a distinct sound. Some other contemporaries using the keyboard were The Beatles, Genesis and King Crimson, so you know, it was pretty big, and spookily successful (Hey, we’re going to keep trying).
In his nearly 50-year career, Hayward has toured with the Moodies on and off again since the 60s and also released seven solo albums, including 2013’s “Spirits of the Western Sky.”
His Borgata appearance is part of that solo career and showcases the rock star at his most basic—as a singer/songwriter performing acoustically (and without drums).
“There’s nothing like the beauty of just a guy and his guitar onstage,” Hayward recently told Digital Trends. “And you have to mean it as well. If it doesn’t come from the heart, it doesn’t work.”
It also puts Hayward out front in a way he never is with the full accompaniment that goes with a Moody Blues tour.
“The guitars are different because I brought my home guitars out on this tour with me—that is, I’m using the same guitars I wrote on and did my original demos on,” Hayward says. “That was the feel I wanted to get—how it feels in my own music room, just as it was when I finished the song and was about to make the demo. I knew all of the parts, even in the Moodies’ songs, that I wanted to explain to the band as it was done. So it was basically a question of transferring my living room feeling out there onstage.”
As for spooky, well, Hayward did pen “Something Evil, Something Dangerous” (with Barrie Guard) for the 1988 film “Howling IV,” so you never know.