Take 5: The Moody Blues’ Graeme Edge

Beloved drummer-poet Graeme Edge passed away in 2021 at the age of 80. Edge had been a mainstay of the Moody Blues; by the time of his passing, he was the only founding member still with the band. Edge was somewhat unusual in that he was a drummer who also wrote songs; most every Moody Blues album would feature at least one of his compositions. Edge also had a fulfilling side career leading The Graeme Edge Band, often featuring guitarist Adrian Gurvitz.

Staffordshire-born Edge would have celebrated his 82nd birthday on March 30. Here are five standout tracks featuring Graeme Edge. All are Moody Blues tracks except where indicated

“Late Lament” from Days of Future Passed (1967)
When the Moody Blues reformed with Justin Hayward and John Lodge, many changes took place. The band’s early r&b sound – exemplified by their hit single “Go Now” – was left behind in favor of a sweeping, orchestral and slightly psychedelic style. And poetic spoken word interludes became a trademark of the band. None, perhaps is more famous than this one, written by Graeme Edge and recited by keyboardist Mike Pinder.

“The Word” from In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)
For the band’s second album in its new style, the orchestra was left behind; instead the band’s sound coalesced around Mike Pinder’s Mellotron and Chamberlin, giving a distinctive quality to the music. Graeme Edge’s spoken-word pieces figure prominently on the record. This one is brief, but it ties together the album’s central theme in an almost limerick fashion.

“Lost in Space” from The Graeme Edge Band’s Kick Off your Muddy Boots (1975)
Edge was always a tasteful drummer. And his work with his solo project sometimes allowed him to explore that rockier side of his style in a way that Moody Blues tracks wouldn’t always accommodate. With singer/guitarist Adrian Gurvitz (formerly of power trio Gun) he made a pair of enjoyable records. This track is a highlight from the band’s debut album.

“I’ll Be Level With You” from Octave (1978)
By 1978 the Moody Blues were ready for a break; years of touring and an unbroken string of fine albums had left them exhausted. But before taking a several year hiatus, the group released Octave, a kind of victory lap capping what would come to known as the band’s “core seven” albums. While many of Edge’s lyrics were spoken, this track features a massed “lead” vocal featuring all the band members… except Edge.

“22,000 Days” from Long Distance Voyager (1981)
Three years would pass between the release of Octave and the debut of the new, ‘80s version of the Moody Blues. Founding member Mike Pinder retired, his place taken by former Yes keyboardist extraordinaire, Swiss virtuoso Patric Moraz. Graeme Edge’s written contribution to the smash comeback album was this track, sung by flutist Ray Thomas, guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge.