NEW YORK – British singer, songwriter and guitarist Denny Laine, who performed in an early, pop-oriented version of the Moody Blues and later served as Paul McCartney’s longtime sideman in the former Beatle’s solo band Wings, has died at the age of 79.
Laine, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame five years ago as a member of the Moody Blues, died Tuesday in Naples, Florida. The cause was interstitial lung disease, according to an announcement made by Laine’s wife, Elizabeth Hines, on her Instagram page.
His death comes almost exactly 50 years after the release of McCartney’s acclaimed “Band On the Run” album, on which Laine played guitar and provided backing vocals. On Tuesday, McCartney paid tribute to Laine on Instagram, calling her “a great talent with a good sense of humor.”
“We had been separated, but in recent years we have managed to rebuild our friendship and share memories of our times together,” McCartney wrote.
Laine was born Brian Frederick Arthur Hines and changed his professional name in his teens, partly as a tribute to singer Frankie Laine.
In 1964, when he was nearly 20, he joined Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder to form the Moody Blues and sang lead on the group’s breakthrough hit “Go Now.” However, the Moody Blues struggled to achieve their initial success, and in 1967 Laine left and was replaced by Justin Hayward. The Moody Blues then turned to the assertive, classically influenced sounds of “Nights in White Satin” and other songs.
Laine worked as a solo artist and in groups such as the Electric String Band and Ginger Baker’s Air Force before being brought to Wings by McCartney, whom he knew during his time with the Moody Blues.
Founded in 1971, a year after the breakup of the Beatles, Wings went through several personnel changes over the next decade, with Laine, McCartney, and McCartney’s wife Linda. Just the ones that stay throughout. The group’s No. 1 singles, most of which were written by McCartney, include “My Love”, “Listen to What the Man Said” and the title track “Band On the Run”. Laine helped write the million-selling book “Mull of Kintyre.”
McCartney disbanded Wings shortly after Laine’s departure in the early 1980s, but Laine contributed to McCartney’s albums “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace” and George Harrison’s tribute to the late John Lennon He added backing vocals to “All Those Years Ago”.
Laine has continued to tour and record in recent years; Among his albums was “The Blue Musician”.