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Moody Blues founder and Wings guitarist Denny Laine dies at 79

Laine’s former bandmate Paul McCartney leads tributes, calling him “a great talent with a fine sense of humour”.

Denny Laine performing live

Credit: Al Pereira/Getty Images

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Moody Blues founder and Wings guitarist Denny Laine has passed away at the age of 79 following a battle with lung cancer.

Yesterday, Laine’s wife Elizabeth Hines took to social media to announce the news, saying: “My darling husband passed away peacefully early this morning.

“I was at his bedside, holding his hand as I played his favourite Christmas songs for him. He’s been singing Christmas songs the past few weeks and I continued to play Christmas songs while he’s been in ICU on a ventilator this past week,” she shared, thanking fans for their love and support throughout Laine’s illness.

Many musicians have come forward to pay tribute to Laine’s long, impressive career, including Sir Paul McCartney, who says: “I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when The Beatles toured with the Moody Blues,” he writes.

“Our two bands had a lot of respect for each other and a lot of fun together. Denny joined Wings at the outset. He was an outstanding vocalist and guitar player,” he continues. “We had drifted apart but in recent years managed to re-establish our friendship and share memories of our times together. Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people.”

Denny Laine’s role in rock and roll was ferocious. An ever-inspired creative mind, Denny Laine was constantly involving himself in new projects. Kicking things off with Denny Laine And The Diplomats, he went on to found The Moody Blues.

Founding the Moody Blues was Laine’s first taste of the big time; their hit Go Now became a total smash. He served as the band’s guitarist from 1964-1966, before moving on to even bigger things, working alongside Paul McCartney in Wings for a decade.

The magic of the McCartney-Laine collaborative mind also led to the pair co-writing McCartney’s number one 1977 single Mull Of Kintyre, which went on to remain the highest-selling single in the country for seven years.

Speaking to Guitar World earlier this year around Wings 50th anniversary reissue of Band On The Run, Laine’s reflection on his legacy feels particularly poignant today. “I’m not trying to downplay it, but I’m actually surprised we’re that well-remembered,” he admitted.

“I’m just a normal musician who doesn’t really think about the fame side of it. That always surprises me, the fame side of it. For example, a lot of my solo stuff, I never really had a big hit, but then people will come up to me and say, ‘I’ve got all of your solo stuff. I know every song you’ve ever written.’

“It’s a compliment and it does give you a good feeling… But it’s all about music for me. It’s all about moving forward. We’re never really satisfied,” he continued. “Even when a lot of people say, ‘Oh, that’s the greatest album, or I love this or that,’ we don’t.

“We say, ‘We loved doing it, but in retrospect, I think I could’ve done that better’… You never stop creating, and therefore you’re never 100 percent satisfied. You can’t be. But when the finished product goes out and a lot of people are happy with it, that’s good enough encouragement for me.”

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