Moody Blues co-founder Graeme Edge dies at age 80

Graeme Edge, the co-founder and drummer of the 1960s and 70s progressive rock band Moody Blues, died on Thursday at his home in Bradenton, Florida at age 80, The New York Times reports. 

Edge’s partner, Rilla Fleming, identified his cause of death as metastatic cancer.

The Moody Blues started out as a British Invasion band in the 1960s, and was known at the time for incorporating spoken word poetry into their orchestral rock numbers. Their most well-known song during that era was Nights in White Satin.

“In the late 1960s we became the group that Graeme always wanted it to be, and he was called upon to be a poet as well as a drummer,” Justin Hayward, the band’s lead singer, wrote in a statement about Edge’s death on the band’s site. “He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly, while creating an atmosphere and setting that the music would never have achieved without his words.”

Edge’s musical background

Edge grew up in a musical family in Birmingham; his father was a music hall singer and his mother, a classically trained pianist, played the live piano accompaniment to silent films.

He trained as a draftsman, but his first job was managing an R&B band in Birmingham. After filling in for the drummer when he quit, Edge decided to become a musician.

His eventual band, the Moody Blues, sold more than 70 million albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

It started out with more of an R&B style but quickly morphed into its signature orchestral rock sound. The band’s use of classical instruments and poetry soon earned it a reputation as a “thinking person’s” band.

“We used to think that we were aiming at the head and the heart, rather than the groin,” Edge said of the band during an interview in 2006.

Last surviving member

In the 80s and beyond, the Moody Blues had more of a synth-pop sound but continued to be popular with fans.

Edge toured with the band until 2019, even after he had a stroke in 2016. He remained an official member of the Moody Blues until his death, the only one left of the original five.

Edge was married twice and divorced both times. He is survived by a son Matthew, a daughter Samantha, and five grandchildren.

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