© Ricky Redman 2015This past Wednesday, The Moody Blues kicked off the first leg of their 2016 trek, which they’re calling the Fly Me High tour. The U.S. outing, which runs through an April 2 concert in Biloxi, Mississippi, is commemorating the 50th anniversary of singer/guitarist Justin Hayward and singer/bassist John Lodge joining the band.

Explaining the inspiration behind the tour’s name, Lodge tells ABC Radio, “The first song we recorded [after we joined the group] was ‘Fly Me High.’ So we decided to celebrate the 50 years by calling the tour Fly Me High and to include that song in the set.”

Most of the fans who come out to the band’s shows this year likely will be hearing “Fly Me High” played live for the first time, since Lodge says The Moody Blues haven’t performed the tune “since 1966 or ’67.” He adds, “[I]t’s gonna be interesting to revisit, ’cause your brain…and your emotion will go back to that time when we recorded and played it for the first time.”

The Moody Blues formed in 1964, and originally were an R&B outfit fronted by singer/guitarist Denny Laine, and played mostly other artists’ material. After the 1966 departure of Laine, who later went on to play with Paul McCartney‘s 1970s group Wings, Hayward and Lodge were brought in and The Moodies completely changed their musical focus.

“We said, ‘Well, let’s get rid of all the Moody Blues history. From now on, we don’t do any Moody Blues songs from that period, and we’re only gonna do our own music from now on…and just be ourselves,” Lodge tells ABC Radio. “And that’s what we did, and…to be honest, we never looked back, because the great thing is we’ve been performing our own songs and our own music ever since then.”

The group, of course, became known for exploring symphonic rock and psychedelic music on their classic 1967 album Days of Future Passed, then later moved toward a more mainstream pop-rock sound.

In addition to celebrating his 50 years with The Moody Blues this year, Lodge has plans to play some shows in support his 2015 solo album, 10,000 Light Years Ago. He recently scheduled a series of U.K. shows in September, and he tells ABC Radio that he also hopes to line up some U.S. performances next year. John points out when he and Hayward put out their 1975 collaborative album Blue Jays, they never toured behind it, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen with 10,000 Light Years Ago.

The next show on The Moody Blues’ Fly Me High trek takes place Tuesday, March 8, in Orlando, Florida. You check out all of the band’s tour dates at MoodyBluesToday.com.

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