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Denny Laine

Denny Laine (born Brian Frederick Arthur Hines; 29 October 1944 – 5 December 2023) was an English musician who co-founded two major rock bands: the Moody Blues and Wings. Laine played guitar in the Moody Blues from 1964 to 1966, and sang their hit cover version of “Go Now”. While the Moody Blues were on tour with The Beatles in 1965, Laine befriended Paul McCartney, who later asked him to join his band Wings.

Laine was a constant member of Wings for their entire run from 1971 to 1981, playing guitar, bass, keyboards, singing backing and lead vocals, and co-writing songs with McCartney including the 1977 hit “Mull of Kintyre”. Laine worked with a variety of other artists and groups over a six-decade career, and in later years participated in a number of Wings / McCartney / Beatles tribute performances and recordings. Laine also performed as a solo artist and touring musician until his death. In 2018, Laine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues.

Early years

Denny Laine was born Brian Frederick Hines in Tyseley, Birmingham, England, where he attended Yardley Grammar School, and took up the guitar as a boy, inspired by gypsy jazz musician Django Reinhardt. He gave his first solo performance as a musician at the age of 12, and began his career as a professional musician, fronting Denny Laine and the Diplomats, which also included Bev Bevan, future drummer with the Move and Electric Light Orchestra. Laine changed his name because he felt "Brian Frederick Hines and the Diplomats... wouldn't work", instead taking the surname of his sister's idol, the singer Frankie Laine. The first name Denny came from the fact that at the time "everyone had a backyard, and a den to hang out. I think I got that nickname there."

Career

The Moody Blues

In 1964, Laine left The Diplomats, and shortly afterwards, he received a call from Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder to form a new band, the M&B 5, which eventually was changed to the Moody Blues. He sang lead vocal on the group's first big hit, "Go Now"; other early highlights included another UK hit, "I Don't Want To Go on Without You", and the two minor UK chart hits "From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)" and "Everyday", both written by Laine and Pinder. Laine also sang on "Can't Nobody Love You" and "Bye Bye Bird", the latter of which was a hit in France. A self-titled EP and the album The Magnificent Moodies followed, on Decca Records. Laine and Pinder wrote most of the band's B-sides during the period 1965–66, such as "You Don't (All the Time)", "And My Baby's Gone" and "This Is My House". However, Laine's tenure with the Moody Blues was relatively short-lived, and after a number of comparative chart failures, Laine quit in October 1966. He was replaced by Justin Hayward. The last record issued by the Moody Blues that featured Laine was "Life's Not Life" b/w "He Can Win", in January 1967.

A compilation album of singles and album tracks of the early Moody Blues, led by Denny Laine, was released in 2006 under the title An Introduction to The Moody Blues.

Electric String Band and early solo career

In December 1966, after leaving the Moody Blues, Laine formed the Electric String Band, which featured himself on guitar and vocals, Trevor Burton (of the Move) on guitar, Viv Prince (formerly of Pretty Things) on drums, Binky McKenzie on bass guitar, and electrified strings in a format not dissimilar to what Electric Light Orchestra would later achieve. In June 1967, the Electric String Band shared a bill with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Procol Harum at the Saville Theatre in London. However, they did not achieve national attention, and soon broke up.

At the same time, Laine recorded two singles as a solo artist, both released on the Deram label: "Say You Don't Mind" b/w "Ask The People" (April 1967) and "Too Much in Love" b/w "Catherine's Wheel" (January 1968). Both failed to chart, although "Say You Don't Mind" became a Top 20 hit in 1972, when recorded by former Zombies front-man Colin Blunstone.

Balls and Ginger Baker's Air Force

Laine and Burton then went on to join the band Balls, from February 1969 until their break-up in 1971, with both also taking time to play in Ginger Baker's Air Force in 1970. Only one single was issued by Balls, on UK Wizard Records: "Fight for My Country" b/w "Janie, Slow Down". The top side was re-edited and reissued on UK Wizard, and in the United States on Epic, under the name of Trevor Burton; he and Laine shared lead vocals on the B-side. The single was reissued again as B.L.W. as Live in the Mountains for 'Paladin', a small label distributed by Pye Records. Twelve tracks were recorded for a Balls album, but it has never been released.

Wings

For the main article on this topic, see Paul McCartney and Wings

In 1971, Laine joined forces with Paul McCartney and wife Linda to form Wings, and he remained with the group for 10 years until they disbanded in 1981. Laine provided lead and rhythm guitars, lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass guitar and woodwind, in addition to writing or co-writing some of the group's material. Laine and the McCartneys were the nucleus of the band and were reduced to a trio twice: the most acclaimed Wings album, Band on the Run, and the majority of material released upon London Town, were written and recorded by Wings as a trio. Laine was also a frequent contributor to the songwriting process and as lead vocalist. He wrote and sang several songs himself ("Time to Hide", "Again and Again and Again"), co-wrote a number of compositions on Band on the Run and London Town, and sang lead vocals on McCartney's songs in full ("The Note You Never Wrote") or in part ("I Lie Around", "Picasso's Last Words", "Spirits of Ancient Egypt"). During Wings' live concerts, Laine often performed "Go Now", his hit with the Moody Blues, and original composition "Time to Hide".

During his time in Wings, Laine also released two solo albums, Ahh...Laine (1973) and Holly Days (1976), the latter of which was also recorded by Wings core trio of Laine and the McCartneys.

With Wings, Laine enjoyed the biggest commercial and critical successes of his career. The non-album single "Mull of Kintyre" co-written with McCartney, became a hit, reaching No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1977 and being the highest-selling single in that country until 1984. "Deliver Your Children" (from the album London Town), similarly co-written with McCartney and sung by Laine, was released as a double A-side with "I've Had Enough" in the Netherlands, where it charted at No. 13.

In January 1980, after Wings leader McCartney was arrested for possession of marijuana, on arrival at an airport in Japan where they were booked to perform a sell-out tour, the band's future became uncertain. Laine released his third solo album, Japanese Tears, with the title track as the single; it included several songs recorded by Wings over the years. (Laine also formed the short-lived Denny Laine Band with Wings' final drummer Steve Holley.) Though Wings briefly reunited in late 1980, on 27 April 1981, Laine announced he was leaving Wings, due to McCartney's reluctance to tour in the wake of the murder of John Lennon.

Solo artist

After leaving Wings, Laine signed with Scratch Records and released a new album, Anyone Can Fly in 1982. He also worked on McCartney's albums Tug of War and Pipes of Peace and he co-wrote one more song with McCartney, "Rainclouds" (issued as the B-side of the No. 1 single "Ebony and Ivory").

Laine continued to release solo albums through the 1980s, such as Hometown Girls, Wings on My Feet, Lonely Road and Master Suite. In 1996, he released two albums, Reborn; and an album of reworkings of Wings songs, entitled Wings at the Sound of Denny Laine.

From 1997 to 2002, he toured with the rock supergroup World Classic Rockers. He left the World Classic Rockers and now tours with The Denny Laine Band, and teamed up with other bands on occasion.

Personal life

Laine was briefly married to Jo Jo Laine, with whom he had a son and daughter. He had three other children from other relationships. Laine married Elizabeth Mele in July 2023 and the couple announced the marriage on the singer’s Facebook page. They resided in Florida.

Death

Laine died on 5 December 2023, aged 79, after a lengthy battle with interstitial lung disease. His wife announced his death on his official Facebook and Instagram pages. Laine died on the 50th anniversary of the US release of Band on the Run.

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