It was reported by Laine’s wife Elizabeth Hines that Denny Laine, who was a longstanding collaborator of Paul McCartney and a co-founder of the bands Wings and The Moody Blues, passed away on Tuesday morning. The man was in his 79th year.
Laine had “been in ICU on a ventilator this past week,” according to a post by Hines on Laine’s official Instagram account. Interstitial lung disease (ILD), which she described as “unpredictable and aggressive,” was Laine’s diagnosis. “He fought every day. He was so strong and brave, never complained,” she wrote.
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Along with Paul and Linda McCartney, Laine helped form Wings in 1971. In the same year, they dropped their first album, “Wild Life.” Two years later, on “Red Rose Speedway,” they had their first No. 1 success with “My Love.” The 1973 album “Band on the Run” was the most famous musical work by Wings.
After debuting at number one in the United States, the album went on to become one of 1974’s best-selling British albums. It included popular songs including “Band on the Run,” “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It,” and “No Words,” which Laine co-wrote.
For their 1975 Grammy-winning performance of the album’s title tune, the band was recognized for best pop vocal performance by a pair, group or chorus. Best rock instrumental performance was an award they went on to win in 1979 for their song “Rockestra Theme.” In a recent interview with Guitar World, Laine stated that working with McCartney was a joyful experience.
“If Paul was on piano, I’d have a bit more freedom to find my own guitar part. It was quite easy to do that with him,” he said. “You have to remember – he and I grew up with the same musical tastes. We listened to all the same bits, so we have a very similar style.”
With McCartney, the native of Birmingham, England, went on to pen “Mull of Kintyre” in 1977; the song appeared on the 1993 release of Wings’ 1978 album “London Town,” which had previously been at No. 1 on the UK’s Guinness Charts of British Hits Singles and was the country’s best-selling single at the time.
Besides the McCartneys, Laine is unique among Wings members in that he sang, wrote songs, and played guitar during the band’s entire career. Later that day, on Tuesday, McCartney used social media to honor his late bandmate.
“I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when The Beatles toured with the Moody Blues,” he wrote, later calling him “an outstanding vocalist and guitar player.”
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“Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people,” McCartney later continued. “He will be missed by all his fans and remembered with great fondness by his friends.” Laine had previously founded and performed with The Moody Blues from 1964 till 1965, before joining Wings.
Although his time with the Moody Blues was short, Laine made a significant impact. After the publication of their 1965 debut album “The Magnificent Moodies,” the guitarist departed from the band, which he co-founded in Birmingham in 1964 with keyboardist Mike Pinder.
In an interview with Billboard published in 2017, Laine mentioned that he was a member of the band throughout its formative years when they evolved from an R&B/blues outfit “to being more progressive.”
“We had this kind of hippie-dippy type of vibe going in those days, and they just developed it further,” he said. “But if it hadn’t been for Mike and Ray (Thomas) talking me into getting into their band, I could’ve been stuck in Birmingham and not done anything, so I’m grateful for that.”
In 2018, Laine was inducted into the Moody Blues’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Pinder, Thomas, Graeme Edge, John Lodge, and Justin Hayward, a recognition of his contributions to the band. After retiring from active touring in his twilight years, Laine debuted his “Songs & Stories” live presentation earlier this year.
The show features a repertoire that covers all of Laine’s work from the past three decades. A spokeswoman for Laine confirmed that he played his last gigs earlier this summer. “I can’t live without live work,” he told Guitar World. “There’s no substitute for playing live and getting the feeling of connecting with an audience.”
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