Although they're best known today for their lush, lyrically and musically profound (some would say bombastic) psychedelic-era albums, the Moody Blues started out as one of the better R&B-based combos of the British Invasion. The Moody Blues' history began in Birmingham, England, where one of the more successful bands during that time was El Riot & the Rebels, co-founded by Ray Thomas (harmonica, vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals). Pinder left the band, first for a gig with Jackie Lynton and then a stint in the Army. In May of 1963, he and Thomas reunited under the auspices of the Krew Cats. Following some success in Germany, Thomas and Pinder decided to try turning professional, recruiting members from some of the best groups working in Birmingham, including Denny Laine (vocals, guitar), Graeme Edge (drums), and Clint Warwick (bass, vocals). The Moody Blues, as they came to be known, made their debut in Birmingham in May of 1964, and quickly earned the notice and later the services of manager Tony Secunda. A major tour was quickly booked, and the band landed an engagement at the Marquee Club, which resulted in a contract with England's Decca Records less than six months after their formation. The group's first single, "Steal Your Heart Away," released in September of 1964, didn't touch the British charts.
Their second single, "Go Now," released in November of 1964 -- a cover of an American single by R&B singer Bessie Banks -- fulfilled every expectation and more, reaching number one in England and earning them a berth in some of the top venues in England (including the New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert, appearing with some of the top acts of the period); its number ten chart placement in America also earned them a place as a support act for the Beatles on one tour and the release of the follow-up LP (Magnificent Moodies in England, Go Now in America) on both sides of the Atlantic.