Wednesday, December 6, 2023

RIP Denny Laine

When I was a little kid, my older brothers had killer albums across the spectrum of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who all the way over to The Police, The Jam, and Elvis Costello. But the one I drove the most repetitive grooves into (sometimes behind my brothers' backs) very well might have been Wings Greatest.

Denny Laine essentially played, if not exactly John Lennon, Paul McCartney's right-hand man in that great band that existed longer than The Beatles, from 1971 to 1981. Arguably the best stuff appeared on Band on the Run and London Town, and those songs were almost entirely the work of McCartney, his wife Linda, and Laine, who has passed away in Florida at the age of 79 from a lung disease. Perhaps his greatest song co-writing credits with Paul were “Mull of Kintyre” and “London Town.”

On playing alongside McCartney, Laine recently told Guitar World, "Me and him had this kind of feel together musically. We slotted in well together. We could read each other, and that came from growing up on the same musical influences. Paul’s got a good sense of rhythm, and he doesn’t overplay, which I like."

Laine finally left Wings mainly because Paul no longer wanted to tour in the wake of Lennon's murder. But that was not the end of the relationship, as he came back to play on two of McCartney's best albums of the 1980s: Pipes of Peace and Tug of War. Of course, Laine's work as a founding member of The Moody Blues must be mentioned as well, and he is in fact a member of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame for his work in that band. He was the lead singer on the group's first hit single, "Go Now," which somewhat foresaw the deeply psychedelic direction to come. That said, he left the group before what I would call their finest moments, 1968's In Search of the Lost Chord and 1969's On the Threshold of a Dream.

After a case of COVID in 2022, Laine had a series of lung issues, including a collapsed lung, leading up to his death.

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