Mike Pinder, founding member and keyboardist of the Moody Blues, dies at 82

The songwriter and musician was the last living member of the band's original lineup.

Mike Pinder, a founding member and keyboardist of progressive rock band the Moody Blues, has died. He was 82. 

The influential musician’s death was announced in a statement by his family that was published on bandmate John Lodge’s Facebook account on Thursday. A cause of death was not disclosed.

“Michael Thomas Pinder died on Wednesday, April 24th, 2024 at his home in Northern California, surrounded by his devoted family. Michael's family would like to share with his trusted friends and caring fans that he passed peacefully,” it read. “His final days were filled with music, encircled by the love of his family. Michael lived his life with a childlike wonder, walking a deeply introspective path which fused the mind and the heart.”

<p>Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns</p> Mike Pinder

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

Mike Pinder

The statement continued, “He created his music and the message he shared with the world from this spiritually grounded place; as he always said, ‘Keep your head above the clouds, but keep your feet on the ground.’ His authentic essence lifted up everyone who came into contact with him. His lyrics, philosophy, and vision of humanity and our place in the cosmos will touch generations to come.”

Born in Birmingham, England, Pinder was 23 years old when he formed the Moody Blues alongside singer and guitarist Denny Laine, bassist Clint Warwick, and drummer Graeme Edge in 1961. Laine and Pinder would go onto pen several tracks that appear on the band’s 1965 debut album The Magnificent Moodies, including the R&B-infused hit, “Let Me Go.” The following year, Laine and Warwick departed the group and were replaced by guitarist and vocalist Justin Hayward and Lodge on bass.

With its new lineup in place, the Moody Blues changed their tune and went on to release what many consider to be one of the first — and greatest — concept albums of all time: 1967's Days of Future Passed. The progressive rock record, which featured Pinder on the mellotron for the very first time, chronicles a day in the life and features the band performing alongside the London Festival Orchestra. In addition to singing and playing, Pinder also provided lyrics to songs "Dawn Is a Feeling" and "The Sunset." The album's biggest hit, "Nights in White Satin," would go onto crack the top 10 of the U.S. music charts in 1972.

The Moody Blues would go on to release six more chart-topping albums: 1968's In Search of the Last Chord, 1969's On the Threshold of a Dream (their first number one album in the U.K.) and their space-themed concept album To Our Children's Children's Children, 1970's A Question of Balance, 1971's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and 1972's Seventh Sojourn (their first U.S. number one). During that time period, Pinder wrote a collection of the band’s biggest hits including both parts of “Have You Heard” as well as “Out and In,” “Melancholy Man,” “My Song,” "Lost in a Lost World,” and more.

When the band went on hiatus in 1974, Pinder used the time to write and release his own solo album, The Promise, which was released in 1976. When the band reunited the following year, Pinder declined to fully return to the group and instead provided a previously unreleased song from his solo album, “One Step into The Light.” He was later replaced with former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz.

After his departure, Pinder largely stayed out of the spotlight and began a career working at Atari. He made his music comeback two decades later with the release of his second solo album, 1994’s Among the Stars, and his 1995 spoken word album A Planet With One Mind. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside his Moody Blues bandmates in 2018.

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