Justin Hayward recalls the single that reignited the band’s career in the 80s and was originally called Fat Arthur!
The inside story of classic prog hit singles
The Voice b/w 22,000 Days
Highest UK Chart Position: Did not chart (No. 15 in America)
This was the second single to be released from the album Long Distance Voyager, following the success of Gemini Dream. It was only the band’s fifth single to break into the US Top 20. The single version is 63 second shorter than the album one. The B side, written by drummer Graeme Edge, was also taken from Long Distance Voyager. The Voice has been a crucial part of the band’s live set since May 1981, the start of their Long Distance Voyager tour.
Where did the inspiration for the song come from?
“Well, I never like writing songs about my personal situation. That’s something I steer clear of. However, in this case, there was a lot of confusion and turmoil both in my private life and also within the band. And writing about this was actually a cathartic experience for me.
“The hardest bit was coming up with the title. Greg Jackman, who was the engineer on Long Distance Voyager kept asking me for a title. And I would say to him, ‘I’ll think of that after’. Because of this Greg started to call the song Fat Arthur, and this was actually etched into the vinyl at the end of side two on certain pressings [the full message is ‘Fat Arthur Awaits’]. Why did I come up with the title The Voice? They were literally just two words plucked at random from the lyrics at the last minute. There is no meaning in the title, but it was better than releasing a single called Fat Arthur!
“Incidentally, Patrick Moraz’s striking intro was added after the song was finished. We thought it needed something extra, so Patrick went in and did this.”
What was the reaction to it?
“It took a while to make an impact. But it definitely built slowly, and has now become a real fan favourite. It always gets a strong reaction when it’s played live. But this wasn’t as immediate as say, Nights In White Satin.”
Did you feel like pop stars?
“Well, if you mean by that did we suddenly get mobbed and have girls screaming at us, then the answer’s no. But we got a certain recognition. People would know the song when it came on the radio, for instance, and that meant we were more than just a faceless band. The good thing, though, was that we still weren’t household names and hassled wherever we went. I could go into a supermarket and do the shopping without being bothered by autograph hunters at the cheese counter. So we were pop stars in an acceptable, low key sense.”
Was having a hit a blessing or curse, and in what way?
“There was no down side to the success of The Voice. The best thing about it was that Long Distance Voyager sold so well as a result. That was the great thing for us. People weren’t just seeing the Moody Blues as a singles band, but would check out the album. So, The Voice boosted our career at the time. I think it might also have helped us to pick up new fans as well.”