Moody Blues founding member Mike Pinder dead at 82

Mike Pinder onstage
(Image credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot via Getty Images)

Mike Pinder, keyboard player and founding member of UK prog legends the Moody Blues, has died, aged 82, it has been confirmed by his family and fellow Moody Blues colleague John Lodge.

Pinder had been the last surviving founding member of the band. Drummer Graeme Edge passed in 2021, vocalist and flautist Ray Thomas died in 2018, with original guitarist Denny Laine passing last year. Clint Warwick, the original bassist, died in 2004.

His family said in a statement, "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.

"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."

His former Moody Blues colleague John Lodge said "All the love possible goes out from the Lodge family to Mike's family today... RIP." while Justin Hayward commented, "Mike was a natural born musician who could play any style of music with warmth and love. His re-imagining and rebuilding (literally) of the Mellotron gave us our identifiable early sound. He was a huge part of my own musical journey. My sincere condolences to his loving and devoted family."

As well as the music he created with the Moody Blues, Pinder will best be remembered as an advocate of technology, notably his pioneering work with the Mellotron.

Pinder helped form the Moody Blues back in 1964 and they had an initial hit with Go Now, but it wasn't until 1967, by which time Justin Hayward and John Lodge had replaced Laine and Warwick respectively, that the band began to rise in popularity, shifting their sound from the early R'n'B roots to a more progressive and symphonic sound with their second album Days Of Future Passed.

Pinder had moved to Malibu, California during the band's mid-70s hiatus and when they reconvened in 1977 to begin work on Octave he declined full participation, being replaced by former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz.

Pinder released his debut solo album, The Promise, through the Moodies' record label Threshold in 1976. A second solo album, Among The Stars, followed in 1994 and A Planet With One Mind a year later. Away from music Pinder worked as a consultant to the Atari Corporation.

Happy to stay out of the limelight, Pinder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Moody Blues in 2018, but was the only member of the band who did not give an acceptance speech, saying "Many MB fans have asked why I did not speak at the induction but by the time the Moodies took the stage we were five hours into the ceremony. The oldest of the inductees were up the latest. 

"The speeches were a bit anti-climatic at that point and it was only fitting that the current touring members (Edge, Hayward and Lodge) spoke first. I am happy that we finally got inducted for our fans' sake. As I have said for the last 30 years 'the fans are my hall of fame'."

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.