Founding member of iconic rock group The Moody Blues

Singer, composer and flautist Ray Thomas, 76, died in Surrey, England, on Jan. 4, after years of ill health. After joining some half-dozen bands through the early 1960s, Thomas, along with Mike Pinder, Denny Laine, Clint Warwick and Graeme Edge, formed The Moody Blues in 1964. Though the 1960s and ’70s, the band’s style ran from pop to rhythm and blues, psychedelia and orchestral (indeed, it was some of this shifting that caused Thomas to leave, as he felt his lyrics and flute were no longer being used to advantage). 1967’s “Nights in White Satin” was probably their most lasting hit, but others included “Go Now,” “Question,” “Isn’t Life Strange” and “Tuesday Afternoon.” In 2015, Thomas told music writer Ray Shasho that “I never took a [flute] lesson in my life and just taught myself. I’ve got a few bad habits that I can’t rid myself of after all this time. But when we did all the tours with the orchestras I’d meet all the flute players and they’d come backstage and tell me that I inspired them to play the flute, and these were brilliant classical musicians. This one girl said to me, ‘how do you make your flute scream?’ I said it’s the way you blow it obviously, but you’ve got to be in a rock and roll band to do it. I had to play over the power of electric guitars.”—Eve Golden

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