If you are reading this you know that the world of music is constantly changing and moving. Regarding the 'music business': right now there is a push by influential and powerful artists to take more control of their recordings. I do hope it succeeds, as many of the things that the generation of musicians before mine fought for have been eroded.As far as the music itself, that will always move on, change shape, and be vibrant. I hear new things every day that I think are great, and there will always be brilliant and inspiring music being made. Most of the big changes belong to the young generation, and rightly so, they are always at the forefront. The most valuable commodity in music is youth. I'm sure young people know that the chances of success are rare and often fleeting. I do feel for many of the TV talent show performers because they must know that the judges are the stars, rarely the singers. But one time in a hundred it can bring fame. It's just that your 15 minutes of fame, and the manner of it, will be remembered for ever. Mostly, I admire the groups, singers and artists that can play live and create magic. That's where happiness lies, and that's where they will find a lasting career. The technology of music is moving quickly too. Everyone can 'sing in tune' on any recording because of fabulous auto-tune software, and samples of great sounds are heard on every recording. That's as it should be. The echo chambers of the old Decca studios were as much part of the Moody Blues early sounds as the group ourselves. Often it's worth finding, and following the producers and writers nowadays, maybe more so than following the pop artists, as the boys and girls that put the music and recordings together are developing huge followings, and artists will flock to them. Many of those great music makers started in their bedroom with a computer - and can still make wonderful recordings there! New software and processes are introduced everyday. But I think the huge change in music recording was in the 1980's with the introduction of the Lynn Drum as well as gorgeous sounding keyboards and samplers. 'Time' in music is so important and the Lynn drum took it from being ragged to 'in the pocket'. It was so exciting to be in London, and working with Tony Visconti, and having hit singles during those years. London was a fabulous place to be with beautiful people and music. If I could only listen to the music from one decade it would (probably) be the 1980's. Right now there is so much music fighting to be heard, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have found my way through the music jungle in the 1960's. The day Mike Pinder called me in Swindon, after I had moved on from under Marty's wing, was a great day. Things are like that in music and the music business - you never know where the fortunate breaks are going to be, or come from, but I am optimistic and secure in the knowledge that music is in good hands as we go ahead into more musical adventures - in my own life, for all music makers, and for music lovers, like you and I.
Perseverance is the best advice for anyone wanting to play the guitar. It will be painful on your hands and fingers for a while, but try and push through that - it will soon pass. I'm not a believer in talent, I believe in desire - you must want to play more than anything. But you must get a good quality guitar, and preferably one that you choose yourself. If you have a clear connection to that particular guitar from the beginning it will mean more to you. A guitar is a friend and you should want to be with it.
I think it's best to start learning with chords on the top (high) four strings. The chords are then easier to form and understand and when you have learned a few good shapes on four strings the whole chord will come easier later.
If you really like certain songs learn to play the chords, however slowly. Then make sure the right hand (if you are right handed) keeps a good rhythm. I always think the right hand can make people tap their feet to a good groove - so keep that groove - and when you play always go to the end of the song. Try not to stop in the middle - just go past your mistakes and move on along the song. Stopping in the middle never works.
And finally, I know it seems obvious but maybe most important of all, make sure your guitar is perfectly in tune when you play. Buy a tuner, and keep your guitar well tuned, otherwise, no matter how good you get, it will never sound great.
I've had my Guild 12 String since the mid 1980's and it has been a wonderful road guitar for me. It's never failed to deliver on stage. I chose it very carefully to finally give me the opportunity to play Question on stage the way it was recorded, instead of trying to compete with the drums with an electric guitar. Guild was one of the first guitar makers to perfect an acoustic pick up that could give volume and clarity. The guitar was immaculate for the first couple of years that I had it, then one day we had to fly to NY in the middle of a tour to do a TV show and the 12 string was in the hold of the aircraft. But in the television studio, when I opened the case, I was astounded to see that the finish on the top of the guitar had cracked into hundreds of little pieces and looked like some bizarre kind of varnish crazy paving. I can only assume that the sudden change of temperature on the aircraft was too much for the integrity of the finish on the top of the guitar. However - it sounded exactly the same to me and the brightness and sparkle of the sound was thankfully undiminished. I love this guitar, and so do all the other guitar players I know. It gets better with age and has matured beautifully and although the finish is flawed, the guitar is fantastic.
It's a question I'm often asked - I don't know why. To have regrets about this particular unfulfilled desire is something that, in my experience, most musicians don't have - but I suspect it seems an obvious question that a fan would think was important. But I think I know what the questioner means - and to try and give just one instance of my own feelings, one of my biggest pleasures is to be friends (and play guitar with) Bruce Welch, because we know and love the same songs. I also got to play on stage with all the Shadows, past and present, at the London Palladium with Mart Wilde a few years ago. That was an unforgettable moment, and a day I will treasure. I am a huge Cliff and the Shads fan. And on one magical night in the nineteen sixties I sat around playing guitar with Donovan and George Harrison - but the question says 'worked with', and that was never work, just fun. I play with pals for fun, not work. When it comes to making records I am lucky enough to have worked with players that I know and love, and that, in my opinion are the best in their field - from Peter Knight to Dave Mattacks to Lele Melotti. Anyone who knows me, accepts that I am firm about what I want, and recording is more fulfilling for me when my own ideas are fully explored. Having said that, Mike Pinder playing those Mellotron phrases between the lines on 'Nights' was something that would never have occurred to me, and it added greatly to the recording. But that kind of contribution is rare - and if there is to be a guitar solo I would rather play it myself!
The Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. It was designed really well with intricate sound damping and absorption on the walls that allows the music to fill the building without any strange 'slap back' or unpleasant reverberations. It always sounds 'sweet' in that big room that they call the Black Box, and I get quite emotional singing and playing in such a lovely venue (the dressing rooms are pretty good too - and the crew always love it, as they have an easy load in and load out). I did it with The War Of The Worlds and we had some great shows. Most of the other artists in the cast had never played it before but loved the whole experience. I read that no other venue has been nominated multiple times for the Pollstar Award as 'Best International Music Venue'. Amsterdam is such a great city anyway and right from the beginning the Dutch have been wonderful supporters of the band. We have had some fabulous times there and I personally would always jump at an opportunity to return. Of course there are fabulous, historic and legendary venues all over the World, but I would have to say that the US is still leading other countries by a mile for sheer class, style and diversity of brilliant gigs. We are lucky to have played so many of the great ones over the years.