Ray Thomas, whose haunting flute playing and vocals filled legendary songs from the Moody Blues like “Night in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon,” has passed away at 76 years old. Thomas’s record labels Esoteric Recordings and Cherry Red Records confirmed his death on Facebook.
“We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness,” the post read. “It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.”
While no cause of death has been given as of yet, Thomas did announce he had prostate cancer in 2014. He died on Jan. 4, according to the Facebook post.
In celebration of Thomas’s legacy, here are 10 things to know about the beloved British musician.
1. Made In England
Ray Thomas was born in 1941 in Stourport-on-Severn, England. He was of Welsh descent.
2. Multi-Talented Musician
In addition to the flute, Thomas also played the piccolo, oboe, harmonica, saxophone, horn and tambourine.
3. His Early Band
Along with future Moody Blues bassist John Lodge, Thomas formed a band called El Riot and the Rebels in the early ’60s. The band’s sound was more like American rock and roll than what he would later be famous for.
4. The Moody Blues
After El Riot and the Rebels dissolved, Thomas formed the Moody Blues in 1964 with keyboardist Mike Pinder, drummer Graeme Edge, bassist Clint Warwick (whom Lodge would eventually replace) and guitarist Denny Laine.
5. Signed To Decca
The Moody Blues were signed by Decca Records, the same label that famously turned down The Beatles.
Among the Moody Blues songs that were written and sung by Thomas are “Another Morning,” “Twilight Time,” “Legend of a Mind,” “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume,” “And the Tide Rushes In,” “For My Lady” and “Dear Diary.”
7. Solo Artist
When the Moody Blues went on hiatus in the 1970s, Thomas released two solo albums, 1975’s “From Mighty Oaks” and 1976’s “Hopes, Wishes and Dreams.” The first was peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard album chart in America.
8. Changing Sounds
In the 1980s, the Moody Blues changed its sound drastically from progressive rock to something more like synth-pop. As a result, Thomas’s role was diminished. He merely contributed backing vocals to 1986’s “The Other Side of Life” and didn’t appear at all on 1988’s “Sur la Mer.”
9. Leaving The Band
Thomas eventually left the band, partially because his flute wasn’t needed as much in the new sound and also because his health was suffering.
10. Hall Of Famer
Thomas, along with the rest of his Moody Blues bandmates, was set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.