Rockstar Denny Laine

One of the amazing things about a spot in the media is the opportunity to speak and have lengthy conversations with people we admire.

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I had the pleasure of a long talk with Denny Laine, a former member of Paul McCartney and Wings, and the Moody Blues, Cream, recently. Denny, by the way, will be another famed artist appearing Jan. 19 with his Moody Wing Band at The Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville.

I told Denny that some of my fondest memories as a teen were putting in the Wings Greatest Hits tape into my tape recorder in my room or in my eight-track player in the car. I know the lyrics of almost of every Wings’ song. The Wings were one of the hottest bands around in the mid to late 1970s.

Denny Laine, a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, has enjoyed a lengthy and wide-ranging career since joining the Moody Blues in 1964 and singing lead vocal on the band’s worldwide smash, “Go Now.” Laine moved on to form the band, Balls, with the Move’s Trevor Burton and then joined Ginger Baker’s post-Cream band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, performing on the band’s first two albums.

In 1971, Paul McCartney tapped Laine to be his right-hand man in Wings. Denny played guitar, keys and sang with the band until its breakup in 1981. He co-wrote with McCartney the worldwide hit, “Mull of Kintyre,” which reached #1 in the UK in 1977 and has since been covered by numerous artists.

Denny is a four-time Grammy nominee, having won two Grammys: in 1979 with Wings for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song, “Rockestra Theme,” and in 1974 with Wings for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for “Band on the Run.”

Since leaving Wings in 1981, Laine has had a prolific solo career, recording and releasing 12 solo albums and continuing to tour the world to great acclaim with his own band. Paul has always been probably my most favorite musician and even endorsed my book about Loretta Goebel’s story “A Life in Parts.”

Denny was so easy to talk with during the time we spent. I was curious about his relationship then with Paul McCartney and now.

Wings was the band Paul McCartney landed with after the Beatles to bring back his career.

“We both rejuvenated each other,” Denny told me. “I knew Paul from way back before when I was with the Moody Blues."

Paul saw Denny on a Jimmi Hendrix show and called him shortly after and asked if he would want to join Wings after the breakup of the Beatles.

“We grew up with the same music and it was meant to be a new project not out there doing Beatles or Moody Blues songs,” Denny said. “We had to be away from the press and have our own time to get something like that together. Paul was a good writer. I would help him and encourage him. It was almost like being brothers. We were able to do things eventually with a nod and a wink and didn’t have to talk so much. It was a very positive working relationship and friendship. Linda (McCartney) was also a very nice person as well and easy to work with.”

“We don’t talk on the phone all the time, but I saw two of his shows in Tinley Park and did get a wink from him on stage,” Denny continued. “We are still and always will be friends.”

“Go Now” was Denny’s song with the Moody’s that became a No. 1 hit on the charts. He also later performed it frequently with Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings.

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“The time with the Moodys was the best time of my whole career,” Denny said. “The Moodys had a lot of good voices. Go Now was just one of those startup songs we got a hold of it from a demo piano and it was a really slow like gospel song.”

Denny said much of the British sound came from what was produced in America.

Denny has always been active athletically and said he used to be on a gymnastics team and box. Now in his 70s, the rock star has stood the test of time and doesn’t look close to his age.

“I come from that kind of family,” he said about athletics. “My sister was a dancer and my dad an amateur boxer and my brother was a professional. Staying fit is part of what you do going on stage. Playing live is some of the best exercise you can get. Your breathing and fitness can come from playing live.”

Denny said traveling wears some people out, but he tries to get plenty of rest, eat right, exercise and make the best of it, just like his friend, Paul McCartney, does today.

“I think this is why Paul stays out on the road,” he said. “He gets a kick out of playing to audiences. Our new Wings boxset that was recently released is a great package. It is great remastering what they do with sound today. I encourage people to check out our new Wings boxset.”

Denny said he will always reflect with a positive thought process about his time with Paul and Linda McCartney and the Moody Blues.

“I think if we had kept going we would have continued to do new stuff,” Denny said. “You write about everything you do; sometimes you have a spell to recharge the batteries and get back out there and do it again.”

Denny said he has always enjoyed the music of this country. McCartney and the other Beatles also always said how much the American music scene influenced them.

Today, Denny said he is close to his children and family and has a girlfriend and a happy relationship.

“I am in a good place now,” he said. “My kids are all into music, so I didn’t do a bad job there. Writing in school was very easy for me. My essays were spoken out in front of school assemblies. Writing songs is not hard for me. It is like being a painter, when you sit down to paint, it is the same way when you write. You have to discipline yourself to work on a certain project.”

Check out Denny Laine this weekend at the Wildey in Edwardsville. If you attend, you will see a living rock legend on stage in the beautiful Wildey setting. Also, a salute to Denny and Paul, for defying the test of time and showing true musicians perform for the love of music, the crowd and the craft in general.

This is a link to Denny Laine’s Facebook page:

Link to Denny performing Go Now with the Moody Blues in 1966:

Link to Denny performing Mull of Kintyre:

Link to the Wings boxset:

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