Obituary – Graeme Edge Moody Blues
Music Instrument News is sad to report the death of Graeme Edge, drummer and founder member of legendary prog rock band The Moody Blues.
Edge was the only member of the Moody Blues to play on every one of their albums, and he is known for his contributions of poetry to the band’s output. Although Edge wrote the spoken word pieces Morning Glory and Last lament on the Days Of Future Passed album in 1967, and The Dream from On The Threshold Of A Dream in 1969, he decided that keyboardist and vocalist Mike Pinder’s deeper voice was more suited to deliver the pieces on the albums and on stage.
As a musician, Edge provided a basic and uncluttered drum sound to The Moody Blues, but he should not be underestimated as a drummer, because his style was adapted to encompass the fundamental changes in the band’s sounds as they evolved from a standard 1960’s r ‘n’ b outfit, to become one of the originals and legends of British progressive rock.
Edge should also be remembered as one of the pioneers of the electronic drum set which he debuted on the track Procession from the band’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour album in 1971. The kit was original in the extreme, featuring rubber pads with silver foil backing and coils with magnets that were touch-sensitive. It led to the evolution of the current range of electronic drums and percussion used widely today. Edge conceived the idea, and worked with Brian Groves, Professor of Electronics at Sussex University, and together they created the kit which showed Edge’s keen interest, in common with the rest of the Moody Blues, in pushing sonic boundaries in search of different and inventive sounds to express their expanding range of progressive rock songs.
During a four-year break for The Moody Blues in the mid-seventies, Graeme Edge remained productive, forming his own studio-based band, including a guest appearance from drum legend Ginger Baker on the eccentrically titled Kick Off Your Muddy Boots album.
From 1991 to 2015, Graeme Edge was joined on stage by Gordon Marshall as second drummer, although Edge contributed percussion and some piano to the band’s live sets, and from 2016 to his retirement from live performance, Edge took Billy Ashbaugh on tour to contribute to the majority of the band’s on-stage drum sounds.
In retirement in Florida, Graeme Edge relaxed, playing golf and watching episodes of Star Trek as a confirmed ‘Trekkie’.
Edge was diagnosed with cancer in July of this year, and passed away in Florida at the age of 80 – the last remaining original member of The Moody Blues.
Graeme Edge was personally an unassuming figure, and his laid-back drumming and percussion playing style has meant that his inventiveness as a musician, and his longevity in a band that evolved out of all recognition from its origins to its current status as a ground-breaking progressive rock legend, has been somewhat overlooked. Those in the music industry will know and remember his ground-breaking contribution to the creation of electronic drums used on stage, and his passing will probably close The Moody Blues chapter in the history of British rock music.
Music Instrument News extends sympathies to Graeme’s family and friends, and his surviving bandmates.
Graeme Edge 30 March 1941 – 11 November 2021.