Saturday, September 05, 2009

Beatle People: Denny Laine

Denny Laine (born Brian Frederick Arthur Hines, 29 October 1944, Holcombe Road Tyseley, Birmingham) is an English songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his roles as former guitarist and lead singer of The Moody Blues and, later, co-founder (with Paul McCartney) of Wings. Laine was the only musician in Wings who did not quit. Laine joined Wings in 1971 for the album Wild Life and stayed until 1980, when Wings broke up.


Denny Laine is of Romani descent, was educated at Yardley Grammar School in Birmingham, and took up the guitar as a boy under the influence of Gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt; he had his first solo performance as a musician at the age of twelve and began his career as a professional musician fronting Denny & The Diplomats, which also included future The Move and Electric Light Orchestra drummer Bev Bevan.

In 1964, Laine left The Diplomats to join Mike Pinder in The Moody Blues and sang their first big hit, "Go Now"; other early highlights included "From The Bottom Of My Heart", "Can't Nobody Love You" and the harmonica-ripping "Bye Bye Bird". However, Denny's tenure with the MB's was short-lived and, after a number of comparative failures, Laine quit the band in late 1966 (the last record issued by The Moody Blues that featured Laine was "Life's Not Life"/"He Can Win" in 1967, but the 1966 "Boulevard De La Madeleine" looked ahead to the fancier sounds that the MB's would later become famous for).

After leaving The Moody Blues, he formed The Electric String Band, which featured Denny (guitar, vocals), Trevor Burton (guitar, another former member of The Move) and Viv Prince (drums), also featuring electrified strings in a format not dissimilar to what Electric Light Orchestra would later attempt. They made two singles, "Say You Don't Mind / Ask The People" (Apr 1967, Deram) and "Too Much In Love / Catherine's Wheel" (Jan 1968, Deram); and, in June 1967, they shared a bill with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Procol Harum at the Saville Theatre in London. However, national attention was not to be, and the pioneering Electric String Band broke up. (There was apparently a third single recorded called "Why Did You Come?". Why it never released is unknown, but there have been rumours that the finished track - and probably the B side as well - was sent by post to Decca and was lost.) Laine and Burton then went on to the band Balls from 1969 until the band's breakup in 1971, with both also taking time to play in Ginger Baker's Air Force in 1970. (Only one single was issued by Balls; "Fight For My Country" / "Janie, Slow Down" on UK Wizard Records. Strangely, the top side was re-edited and reissued on UK Wizard and issued in the US on Epic under the name of Trevor Burton, which was odd since Laine and Burton shared lead vocals on the B side. The single was reissued again as B.L.W. as "Live In The Mountains" for a small Pye distributed label. There was supposed to have been a Balls album recorded, but it has never seen the light of day). Laine's 1967 song "Say You Don't Mind" was a hit when recorded in 1972 by ex-Zombie, Colin Blunstone.

In 1971, Denny joined Paul McCartney to found the group known as Wings, and would stay with them for a full ten years until they officially disbanded in 1981; Denny provided lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, bass, writing and co-writing skills, as well as being a solid solo performer. Together with Paul and his wife, the late Linda, they formed the nucleus of the band, being called that "strange, 3-winged beast". It was with Wings that Denny enjoyed the biggest commercial and critical successes of his career, including co-writing the smash hit "Mull of Kintyre".

In January 1980, McCartney was arrested for possession of marijuana upon arrival at an airport for a tour in Japan. The tour was cancelled. Wings recorded through the year on new tracks as well as tracks still in the vaults, but a press release by Paul in early 1981 officially announced that Wings had broken up. The new tracks ended up on Paul's next two solo albums, and Laine's relationship with McCartney soured (speculation also has it that financial matters were close to the heart of this dissolution, similar to the McCartney/Jackson partnership).

The title track of Denny's first solo album after Wings, called "Japanese Tears", appeared to be a visible attack on McCartney much like John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" in 1971; however, closer inspection to the lyrics shows that it more likely tells the tongue-in-cheek story of a Japanese fan's disappointment after Wings' tour got cancelled (or possibly even tears of excitement at Wings' arrival in Japan in the first place).

Denny filed for bankruptcy in the mid-80's after selling his lucrative co-publishing rights to "Mull of Kintyre" to co-author McCartney. However, he has continued to record music at a prolific rate and has appeared at Beatles conventions and on tributes to both The Beatles and Wings. He is currently working on an autobiography.

He was briefly married to Jo Jo Laine (born 13 July 1953 — died 29 October 2006), with whom he had a son, Laine Hines, and a daughter, Heidi Hines. He has three other children from other relationships: Luciannne Grant, Damian James, and Ainsley Laine-Adams. His current wife is Rosha.


The Moody Blues

* The Magnificent Moodies (1965)

non-album singles:

* Steal Your Heart Away b/w Lose Your Money
* It's Easy, Child
* I Don't Want To Go On Without You b/w Time On My Side
* From The Bottom Of My Heart b/w And My Baby's Gone
* Ev'ryday b/w You Don't(All The Time)
* Boulevard De La Madeleine b/w This Is My House (But Nobody Calls)
* People Gotta Go (issued on a French EP only),
* Life's Not Life b/w He Can Win.


* Say You Don't Mind/Ask The People (1967)
* Too Much In Love/Catherine's Wheel (1968)
* Why Did You Come?/unknown (never released) (1968)


* Fight For My Country/Janie, Slow Down (1969)

This single was reissued twice:

Trevor Burton

* Fight For My Country (edited)/Janie, Slow Down" (1970)


* Live In The Mountains/Janie, Slow Down (issued in 1972? on UK Paladin)

Ginger Baker's Airforce

* Ginger Baker's Air Force (1970)


* Wild Life (1971)
* Red Rose Speedway (1973)
* Band On The Run (1973)
* Venus and Mars (1975)
* Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976)
* Wings Over America (1976 triple live album)
* London Town (1978)
* Back to the Egg (1979)

Solo albums

* Ahh...Laine (1973 Wizard, but recorded sometime earlier)
* Holly Days (1976 EMI/Capitol)
* Japanese Tears (1981 Polydor)
* Anyone Can Fly (1982 polydor)
* In Flight (1984 Breakway)
* Weep For Love (1985 President)
* Hometown Girls (1985 President)
* Wings On My Feet (1986 President)
* Lonely Road (1988 President)
* Master Suite (1988 Magnum Force)
* All I Want Is Freedom (1990 JAWS)
* Blue Nights (1994 President)
* Rock Survivor (1995 WCP)
* Go Now (1995 Prime Cuts)
* Reborn (1996 Griffin)
* Wings At The Sound Of Denny Laine (1996 Scratch)
* Arctic Song (1998)

Guest appearances

* Ginger Baker's Air Force 2 (two tracks: 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' & 'I Don't Want To Go On Without You', 1970)
* McGear (1974)
* The Reluctant Dog (1980)
* Somewhere in England (one track, 'All Those Years Ago', 1981)
* Tug of War (1982)
* Pipes of Peace (1983)
* Wind In The Willows (one track: 'The Life We Left Behind', 1985)
* Metal Christmas (one track: 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', released in 1996 but sounds like it was recorded earlier)
* Wide Prairie (1998)
* Old Friends In New Places (one track: 'And The Thunder Rolls...', 1999)


* Memory Laine (1972)
* Rock & Roll Jam Sessions (aka: 'Lympne Castle Sessions', aka: 'Wings: In A Jam', 1978-79)
* 2 Buddies On Holly Days (excerpts from 'Holly Days' and live performances during Buddy Holly Week, 1979)
* Hot Hits & Cold Cuts (1979)
* Birmingham Boy (1982)

Live albums

* Ginger Baker's Air Force (one track: 'Man Of Constant Sorrow(live)', 1970)
* Wings Over America (1976)
* Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea (1981)

Compilation albums

* Wings Greatest (1978)
* In Flight (1984)
* Weep For Love (1985)
* Blue Nights (1994)
* Rock Survivor (1995)
* Danger Zone (1995)
* Go Now (1995)
* The Masters (1998)
* Wingspan: Hits and History (2001)
* Spreading My Wings: The Ultimate Denny Laine Collection (2002)
* The Collection (3 albums: Blue Nights/The Masters/Reborn) (2003)
* An Introduction to The Moody Blues (2004)
* Send Me The Heart (2004)


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