When you look up the definition of the phrase “Versatile Enigma,” a picture of Denny Laine will surely be near it. Born Brian Frederick Hines in Tyseley, Birmingham, England, the name change occurred very early on with the formation of his first band, The Diplomats. Laine felt that Brian Frederick Hines and the Diplomats sounded horrid, so he took the surname of his girlfriend at the time’s favorite singer (Frankie Laine) and Denny came from a childhood nickname as his stage name. Laine has been quoted as saying “everyone had a backyard, and a den to hang out. I think I got that nickname there.”
Laine started playing guitar at age 12, soon adding in bass guitar and piano, and honed his musical skills to perfection playing around at local gigs both solo, and with the Diplomats. By 1964, Laine was restless and ready to take his career to the next level, and after leaving the Diplomats, he co-founded M&B 5 with musicians Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas, which later became simply, “The Moody Blues.” He spent 3 years with the Moody Blues, but their impact was minimal in the beginning. They had some minor success with Go Now, on which Laine sang lead, I Don’t Want To Go On Without You, From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You), and Everyday, the last two of these Laine co-wrote with Pinder.
By October 1966, Laine was ready to try new things creatively, and left the Moody Blues. He was replaced by Justin Hayward. Initially, he experimented with different sounds in music, particularly electric strings similar to ELO’s sound, and played both solo and with a few different bands, including a brief stint with Ginger Baker’s Air Force.
In 1971, Laine would achieve the pinnacle of his success when he joined long-time pal Paul and his wife Linda McCartney’s new band Wings. He spent 10 years with Wings, collaborating with McCartney as a frequent contributor to the songwriting process, and as a lead vocalist. Laine also released several notable solo albums during this time. After a brief period off from Wings when Paul was arrested for marijuana possession in Japan, the band briefly reunited in late 1980, but in April 1981, Laine announced he was leaving Wings due to McCartney’s reluctance to tour in the wake of John Lennon’s murder. Post-Wings, Laine has continued to record and release solo work, including Wings at the Sound of Denny Laine.
Laine’s personal life was a little more colorful. He was briefly married to Jo Jo Laine, with whom he had a son, Laine, and a daughter, Heidi. He has three other children from other relationships: Lucianne Grant (with Helen Grant), Damian James (with model Catherine James) and Ainsley Laine-Adams (with Gilly Adams). Laine moved to the United States in the mid 1990s and resides in the New York City area.
At 75, he still plays music, performing solo with an acoustic guitar. Always an original, Laine said in an interview, “We take a modern approach to the songs. I’m not trying to sing like Paul, I don’t like copying people. I don’t like to live the past too much.”
Laine also devotes his time to causes he believes in, especially the environment. He even wrote a tune called “Arctic Song,” which focuses on climate change and environmentalism. Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]