It was clear from an early age that Justin Hayward would carve out a career as a musician and singer, but few who heard him sing in the Church Hall at St Saviour’s Church, Swindon in the late 1950s could have guessed that he would one day lead one of the world’s most famous ‘supergroups’.
Born in Dean Street, Swindon, on 14 October 1946, Justin was the son of two teachers. He went to Shrivenham Primary School and then on to Commonweal Swindon, and was already an accomplished musician when he left school at the age of sixteen.
Music was his true vocation, as became apparent at the age of ten when he formed a skiffle group called THE RIVERSIDERS, followed by THE WOODPECKERS and SATELLITES groups.He had to wait another three years for his first real taste of show business, which came while he was on family holiday at Lyme Regis. He volunteered to help out as emergency accompanist for a musical called Boy in the Blues Jeans, and ended up staying for the rest of the summer.Back in Swindon in November 1960, he became a member of THE REBELS, who later changed their name to THE OFF-BEATS, and were booked for the whole of the 1961 summer season at a theatre in Jersey.
For the next three years or so he was in popular Swindon bands THE WHISPERS and ALL THINGS BRIGHT, during which, for 18 months, he worked as a trainee salesman for the local building firm, Bradley’s. His first big break in the music industry came from an association with established pop star Marty Wilde. On 8 April, 1965, Justin played alongside Wilde in a televised charity show at the London Palladium and within a month jetted off on a Forces entertainment tour as part of The WILDE THREE – Wilde’s wife, Joyce Baker, completing the line-up.
The Wilde Three issued two Decca singles during the year and shortly after the second one, in November 1965, Justin amicably opted out to start his solo career. But while Wilde’s career was on a downward path, Justin was a rising star. His first step was to find a manager and found one in Lonnie Donegan, a former skiffle singer who had moved into artist management. Justin’s first self penned single was released by Pye in December 1965, followed by his second, on Parlophone, in August 1966. For these singles Justin had put together another Swindon band, THE SHOTS. He left Swindon to move to London and it was there that he joined the Moody Blues in late 1966. He actually learnt that he’d secured the lead singer role while browsing guitars in Duck, Son & Pinker in Fleet Street, Swindon.
It’s quite remarkable that his recording of the first version of ‘Nights In White Satin’ was less than a year away.