The Moody Blues made arguably the first ever pop promo for Go Now in 1964, borrowed by Queen when they made their Bohemian Rhapsody video a decade later.
The pop history books tell you that Bohemian Rhapsody is the first pop promo video in 1975. Bollocks. The Moody Blues’ video for Go Now not only pre-dates it by more than a decade but Queen nicked the very idea of it too.
Bessie Banks sang the original – I never knew it was a cover version – written by her ex-husband Larry Banks and Milton Bennett, and recorded earlier in 1964.
Produced by the great Leiber and Stoller, with Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston on backing vocals, it has an almost identical arrangement to the chart-topping Moodies’ one, with the tortured vocal and bluesy piano.
It’s also significantly more soulful – and, frankly, better.
It was Denny Laine who heard it and suggested recording it to his own recently formed band, whom I learn were originally named The MBs and then The MB Five, in the hope of attracting sponsorship from local brewery Mitchell & Butlers… strange but true.
They failed to clinch a deal but kept the ‘MB’ theme just in case when settling on The Moody Blues. This was only their second single and the promo video is shot in black-and-white on 35mm film at the old Marquee Club, produced and directed by Alex Wharton, who was also the band’s manager.
Denny Laine, who sings it, left the Moodies two years later and went on to join Wings (with whom he still sang this in concert), while the Moody Blues had a huge career – and poor old Bessie Banks faded into obscurity in America.