Justin Hayward talks about the Moody Blue’s stage set up over the years.

When I first came to the band I had a basic Vox AC 30, and a Fender Telecaster that I had bought from Kempsters music shop in Swindon right after my first meeting with Mike Pinder. I had just sold my 335 a couple of weeks before meeting the band because I was flat broke. The Tele was cheap, I desperately needed an electric guitar, and Mr Kempster arranged hire purchase on it. I also had a 12 string acoustic that I was writing songs on. John had his own bass amp and speakers as I remember, and it had a very nice sound but was fragile. Bizarrely, Mike Ray and Graeme had no equipment, but Graeme rustled up a free (or very cheap) Ludwig Kit from somewhere. We rehearsed a few songs in the house that Ray was renting in Esher by plugging in to my amp. But one of the very first things I remember doing when I joined the band was making a trip over to the Vox factory in Dartford in Kent with Mike Pinder who brilliantly, and rather magically I thought at the time, managed to persuade the owners to give us (yes, give us, on loan I presume, yeah right!) a beautiful set of amplifiers – two AC 30’s with Top Boost, and a bass amp. The guys did have a Volkswagen van available to them. It was driven by Ginger - real name Colin Smythe. He tragically died in the helicopter crash with Bill Graham and Stevie Ray Vaughn – we knew Stevie well as he had shared a bill with us for several months some years earlier, and Bill had been one of the promoters who had brought us to the USA in1968. So, we started out with an amplifier set up the same as the Beatles (and lots of other bands).  Mike was playing piano then (just think ‘Go Now’) and the promoter would acquire a piano for the gig. They were mostly awful. Mike would tune them and he had way of setting up a microphone that got the best compromise sound through his AC 30. That was how we continued until we got back to the UK in late 1966 after being in Belgium and France for a couple of months. `When we got back to London we realised it was not going to work for us. Mike had tried a Vox Continental organ (again ‘talked’ out of the Vox factory) to get a good sound on our songs - but it didn’t blend with the things we wanted to do. Then came the Mellotron – and that changed everything. It certainly made my songs work. And, around that time a young man approached us about management – he was a successful heating and ventilation engineer fro the North East, and he enabled us to buy the new, loud Marshall amps and speaker stacks. They worked well for me and John, and Mike ran his Mellotron through a set, as did Ray with his flute. We realised we needed a PA system, so with our new roadie, Pete Jackson, (Ginger had left us to work with Denny I think – or at least with someone who could actually pay him!) we bought a second hand WEM PA system and Pete controlled it from the side of the stage. It just had two thin columns, L and R, and an amp with four inputs. That was the set up we were using on the first US tour. It worked Ok for us – until we did a couple of gigs opening up for Cream on their ‘farewell’ tour of the USA – the first gig was in Baltimore at a giant stadium. We arrived late, as usual in our U Haul truck, and there were curtains around the stage area so that Cream didn’t have to be seen walking on to the stage. We set up in front of their gear with our WEM PA. When the curtains drew back we almost fell over backwards – the place was so huge nobody could hear us. We had to change! Luckily, soon after that we met a boy called Gene Clair, who was just starting out, and he made a fabulous PA for us and drove it around the country himself in his truck. He went on to become a legend in the touring music business. Even though I was still using my original ‘on loan’ Vox AC 30 on all recordings (through the sixties and seventies and eighties), on the road I needed even more volume. In the late 60’s I moved to a massive Hi Watt stack. It was f..king loud! But it had to be, to fill the places we were playing. The PA systems were still only amplifying the voices, not the group’s amps. As PA systems got more sophisticated in the early 80’s – and I was able, at last, to use acoustic guitars on stage (they had featured on all our records) - I went back to using two AC30’s on stage, in stereo, with an Eventide harmoniser. It sounded great but unfortunately AC 30’s are not that tough and reliable for nightly road work and so in the mid 90’s I went over to using a Fender amp on the left and a Mesa Boogie on the right with a 50 watt Marshall amp (with a four speaker cabinet) in the middle. It’s of course much lower in volume than those old High Watt days, and I have used that set up for several years now. I have been able to copy, and update most of my studio sounds into a pedal system as well. I’m happy. John and I are the only ones on stage to go through our own amps - everything else goes directly into the PA. Very different from 1966.