CLEVELAND, Ohio - Justin Hayward had a pretty modest idea of success when he joined the Moody Blues in 1966.
"I did have one thought on my mind,'' said Hayward in that wonderfully musical English accent of his in a call to his home in Europe. His voice is just as lyrical, just as ethereal even, as it is on "Days of Future Passed'' or any of the other Moodys hits.
"That was making the payments on my guitar and trying not to go back and live off my parents and sponge off them anymore,'' said Hayward, who with band mates John Lodge and Graeme Edge and former colleagues Mike Pinder and the late Ray Thomas will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 14, at Cleveland's Public Hall.
Eligible since 1989, it was the band's first nomination - an idea that still rankles Moodys fans.
In a 2012 interview to preview a show in Akron, Hayward tackled the subject.
"To a British person or a European . . . the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I'm sad to say, because it's there and not here, it doesn't have any relevance," he said in that interview with The Plain Dealer.
"I'm very much aware of how the Moody Blues fans think about it, and they're desperate that it should happen," he said. "My feelings are these: Music is subjective. I know we're a good band, and whether a panel thinks we should be in a hall of fame is completely subjective."
There's not bitterness, though, at least not now. Or not much, anyway.
"I don't know what the criteria are, except that you're eligible after a certain amount of time,'' he said. (Bands or artists become eligible 25 years after their first recording is released.) "But it's difficult to explain to people what it means.
"I'm in Italy now, and I met a woman on the street a couple of days ago who asked me about what was happening with the band,'' he said. "I said, 'Oh yeah, we're being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,' and she said, 'Oh, what's that, then?' '' - and proceeded to ask him just when the Moodys would be "induced.''
Induced, inducted. Tomato, tomahto. Hayward is just glad the band is finally getting its due.
"I'm extremely grateful to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for creating that sort of temple for what's brought joy in my life since I was a small boy,'' he said in his recent interview. But as proud as he now is, he's even happier for the fans.
"I think actually that the Moody Blues fans had a huge role in it,'' Hayward said of the band's belated honor, specifically citing the Rock Hall's own fan poll, in which the Moodys finished second behind Bon Jovi. "Their contribution and the sheer number of fans that voted made it kind of undeniable. I think all the thanks must go to them.''