Mike Pinder, Moody Blues Founding Keyboardist, Dead At 82

Mike Pinder, the last surviving original member of psychedelic rock of 1960s/70s prog rock band the Moody Blues has died at 82. The pioneering keyboardist/singer credited with helping to introduce the mellotron into the rock arena passed away on Wednesday (April 24) at his home in Northern California of undisclosed causes.

Moody bassist John Lodge shared a statement from Pinder’s family on Facebook, in which they wrote, “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. 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.”


It 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 Erdington, Birmingham England on Dec. 27, 1941, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Pinder co-founded the group in May 1964 with multi-instrumentalist/singer Ray Thomas, singer/guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge and bassist/singer Clint Warwick; Laine and Warwick left the band in 1966 after the release of 1965’s debut album, The Magnificent Moodies, and were replaced by guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist Lodge. Pinder and Laine co-wrote all the original songs on Moodies, which included the band’s wistful, R&B influenced breakthrough single, “Go Now.”

The new lineup released one of the landmark early prog rock albums, Days of Future Passed, in 1967, on which Pinder made his recorded debut playing the mellotron, a keyboard that used prerecorded three-track tapes to reproduced a variety of orchestral instrumental sounds and special effects. “The Mellotron enabled me to create my own variations of string movements. I could play any instrument that I wanted to hear in the music. If I heard strings, I could play them with the Mellotron. If I heard cello, brass, trumpets or piano, I could play them,” Pinder told Rolling Stone in an oral history of the album’s enduring hit single, “Nights in White Satin.”


Pinder took lead vocals on the majestic, symphonic opening instrumental, “The Day Begins,” and is credited with writing “Dawn: Dawn Is a Feeling” and the “Sunset” portion of the trippy “Evening” suite. The album also featured what would become the group’s signature mind-trip single, “Nights in White Satin,” which ran up to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was re-released in 1972.

Pinder’s experimentation with the then-new keyboard helped it become a staple of prog and psychedelic recordings by groups including Yes, Genesis and King Crimson. His explorations continued on the Moody’s 1968 album In Search of the Lost Chord, another concept LP which explored the concepts of inner exploration and discovery. He contributed vocals to the propulsive single “Ride My See-Saw” and is the credited songwriter on the mind-tripping psychedelic journey through the universe “The Best Way to Travel,” featuring the acid-tinged lyrics, “Speeding through the universe/ Thinking is the best way to travel/ And you can fly, high as a kite if you want to.” He also wrote the Indian-influenced album ender “Om,” which incorporates Pinder’s mellotron, as well as sitar, tambura, tabla and cello.

The rock group that fully embraced the flower power Woodstock vibe of the late 1960s further explored the deepest recesses of their consciousness on 1969’s On the Threshold of a Dream, which again featured Pinder’s vocal contributions and songwriting on four tracks, the incense-spiced blues raga “So Deep Within You,” as well as floaty “Have You Heard (Part 1)” (and “Part 2”) and the roiling instrumental “The Voyage.”

The keyboardist would continue to be a key creative force in the band on 1969’s moon landing-inspired To Our Children’s Children’s Children album, 1970’s more straight-ahead rocking A Question of Balance — which featured the quickstep Billboard Hot 100 No. 21 hit “Question” — and 1971’s similarly concept-free Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.


The group’s 1972 LP, Seventh Sojourn, found Pinder blazing a trail with another new instrument, the Chamberlin, another electro-mechanical keyboard that also used a tape-like device that would later be featured on recordings by Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Edgar Winter.

After a long break, the Moodys returned in 1978 with their ninth album, Octave, on which Pinder traded his mellotron and Chamberlin for synthesizers on what would be his final studio recording with the band. It featured just one track credited to Pinder, the meditative ballad “One Step Into the Light,” on which he also provides lead vocals.

Before his passing, Pinder the was the last living member of the original lineup following the death of bassist Warwick in 2004, singer/flautist Thomas in 2018, drummer Edge in 2021 and guitarist Laine in 2023. “Mike your music will last forever. Rest in peace on your travels to heaven,” Lodge wrote on Twitter. The band, including Pinder, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Pinder released his debut solo album, The Promise, on the band’s label, Threshold, in 1976, followed by a second one, Among the Stars, in 1994 and 1995’s A Planet With One Mind.

See the statement from Pinder’s family and listen to some of his contributions to the band below.

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