Monday 8th January 2018

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Ray Thomas, flautist, vocalist and founding member of the Moody Blues, passed away on 4th January 2018. Thomas wrote several songs for the band, including the trippy Legend of a Mind and Veteran Cosmic Rocker. The Moody Blues, including Thomas, were to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018

In 2014 Thomas revealed on his website that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said he had received his diagnosis in 2013. “My cancer was inoperable but I have a fantastic doctor who immediately started me on a new treatment that has had 90% success rate,” he wrote. “The cancer is being held in remission but I’ll be receiving this treatment for the rest of my life.”

All things must pass away but family is tough,
I loved Ray Thomas. I never ever thought I would be in his home in his company and it was wonderful. He was a LEG END!

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Moody Blues bassist John Lodge tweeted Sunday, “Ray and I have been on this magical journey through life together since we were 14… two young kids from Birmingham who reached for the stars…and we made it together. El Riot you will always be by my side.” Thomas and Lodge played together in their band El Riot and the Rebels in the early Sixties.

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Tomo

His voice to me echoed the welsh valleys
It was deep like the seams of coal
It could roll like oceans
It had an age of memories
Like chapel
It could enchant the soul
His words spoke of sorrow and love
They spoke of my city
They spoke of my life
But his voice could also be light
It could fly like bird
It could be playful
Spinning a jest
Delivering fairy dust on a breeze
Delivering wonder and fun
Shining forever like a mischievous star

John Bish January 8th 2018

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Veteran Cosmic Rocker

The lights go down
The stage is set
The man in the wings breaks out in sweat
A backstage joker spiked his coke
While the dressing room was full of smoke
A crowd of fools got him high
He’s afraid he’s gonna die
He’s the apple of their eye

He steps into the remaining light
The crowd go wild
He’s outa sight
Arms held high in the sign of peace
His manager signed the one night lease
The house is full getting high
He’s afraid he’s gonna die
He’s the apple of their eye
(He struts, he strolls)
(His love is rock ‘n’ roll)
He’s the VETERAN COSMIC ROCKER

He steps into the remaining light
The crowd go wild
Arms held high in the sign of peace
His manager signed the one night lease
The house is full getting high
He’s afraid he’s gonna die
He’s the apple of their eye
(He struts, he strolls)
(His life is rock ‘n’ roll)
He’s the VETERAN COSMIC ROCKER
He’s afraid that he will die

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Obituary from The Times

Ray Thomas

Founder of the Moody Blues who was known for his LSD-influenced prog-rock pretensions in a band that sold 70 million albums

It would be an understatement to say that the songs of Ray Thomas and the Moody Blues divided opinion — they were full of cosmic musing and hippy pontificating about man’s place in the universe.

Critics dubbed the group the “Pseudy Blues” and dismissed them as the most pretentious of all prog-rock acts, given to the worst kind of cod mysticism. However, the group’s fans were obsessive in their devotion and they afforded Thomas and his colleagues the status of gurus who held the key to enlightenment and a higher consciousness.

“We had some real weirdos,” Thomas recalled. “I had a woman live in my garden for three weeks. She wanted me to father her child, who was going to be the new messiah. It frightened the shit out of me.”

On another occasion a male fan gatecrashed his dressing room and dropped to his knees before him. “I’d got a Scotch and Coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he wanted me to lay my hands on him, because by doing that he was going to leave his body and Krishna was going to enter his soul.”

The Moody Blues’ mind-expanding travelogues and their fixation with millenarian philosophies tended to invite such unhinged followers. Songs were stuffed with arcane metaphysical allegories and pseudo-biblical lines, such as: “He saw magnificent perfection, whereon he thought of himself in balance, and he knew he was.”

On Legend of a Mind, inspired by the LSD advocate Timothy Leary, Thomas sang of trips to the astral plane and included references to the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. His theme song, which Thomas wrote for the band’s 1981 chart-topping album Long Distance Voyager, was titled Veteran Cosmic Rocker.

A robust 6ft-tall Brummie, Thomas’s down-to-earth nature did not always sit easily with the Moody Blues’ image as latter-day mystics. His preferred form of cosmic relaxation was to sit on a river bank with a fishing rod, although, like many in the late 1960s, he also dabbled with psychedelic drugs. “We left Ray alone one time after he’d taken some LSD,” his bandmate Justin Hayward recalled. “He was watching the telly and when we came back Crossroads was on. He was going, ‘Man, this is fucking far out!’ ”

Flying the astral plane was a long way from Thomas’s early exploits as the lead singer with El Riot and the Rebels, a raw early 1960s rock’n’roll combo in which he made his entrance sliding across the stage on his knees in a green satin suit. He was forced to tone down his act after he injured himself one night taking out an entire row of potted tulips.

At the time he was working as a toolmaker, but he was inspired to give up the day job after sharing a gig at the Riverside Dancing Club in Tenbury Wells with a rising young band from Liverpool called the Beatles.

Within a year he had formed the Moody Blues, who went on to sell an estimated 70 million albums as they progressed from a raucous R&B band to symphonic pop pioneers then on to prog-rock adventurers.

Along the way the group’s biggest hits included the blue-eyed soul of Go Now, which topped the charts in 1965, and the lushly orchestrated Nights In White Satin, a romantic ballad of such enduring quality that it was a Top 20 hit on three occasions.

Thomas retired from the group in 2002 and spent his later years living quietly in his opulent home in Cobham, Surrey, with his long-term partner Lee Lightle, a Moody Blues fan who followed the group around. “I just got to know her on the road and we became close,” he said. They married in 2009 in a chapel where his grandfather, a retired coal miner turned carpenter, had made the pews.

His first marriage to a woman named Gill had ended in divorce in 1981. He is survived by their children: Adam, Nancy and Zoe. His favourite occupation in retirement was to take fishing holidays with Adam, who as a boy was pictured on the cover of Thomas’s 1975 solo album From Mighty Oaks.

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Raymond Thomas was born in 1941 in Lickhill Manor, Stourport-on-Severn, an imposing address that was not the family home, but had been commandeered during the war to house expectant mothers evacuated from bomb-ravaged Birmingham.

His father was a toolmaker who spoke Welsh and sparked his son’s musical interest by teaching him to play the harmonica. He also sang in the Birmingham Youth Choir and taught himself to play the flute, although his first instrument was a homemade double bass shaped like a coffin that he played in a teenage skiffle group.

By 1963 he had turned professional as the singer with the Krew Kats, whose line-up also included the future Moody Blues keyboardist Mike Pinder. The group followed the Beatles to play in the clubs of Hamburg, but broke up, and Thomas and Pinder were left stranded in Germany without cash. They spent a week walking and hitchhiking the 417 miles to Ostend, where the British consulate reluctantly lent them the fare for the ferry back to Britain.

Thomas’s flute-playing became integral to the sound of the Moody Blues
When they were back in Birmingham they teamed up with Denny Laine, Clint Warwick and the drummer Graeme Edge to form the Moody Blues, with Brian Epstein as their manager. Epstein put them to work supporting the Beatles on what turned out to the Fab Four’s final British tour. The fans made so much noise that one night John Lennon bet Thomas that he could play a completely different song from the rest of the group and nobody would notice. “He was right,” Thomas recalled. “You couldn’t hear a goddamn thing.”

The Moody Blues found success with their second single, a cover of Bessie Banks’s melodramatic soul ballad Go Now. It went to No 1 in Britain and No 10 in America, but they struggled to find another hit. A follow-up single, From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You), flopped badly and the Moody Blues’ association with Epstein was short-lived.

After a badly mismanaged tour of France the group told Epstein that his NEMS organisation was “crap”. He summoned his staff and asked for an explanation. “They all stared at the floor and said nothing,” Thomas said. “Then he banged the table and said, ‘It appears the boys are right. I’m the head of a crap organisation.’ ”

When he asked Thomas and his bandmates what they wanted him to do they asked if they could be released from their contract. “He ripped it up in front of us. He was a total gentleman.”

Despite the split Thomas remained good friends with the Beatles and played and sang backing vocals on I Am The Walrus and Fool On The Hill.

The arrival of the singer and guitarist Justin Hayward and the bassist John Lodge to replace Laine and Warwick — and the onset of the psychedelic era — led to a dramatic change of musical direction. The initial concept for 1967’s landmark Days Of Future Passed was to create a rock version of Dvorak’s Symphony No 9. In the event the group stuck with the symphonic concept, but created an album built around a day in the life, with music reflecting different periods of the day. Thomas contributed The Morning: Another Morning and Twilight Time, his flute working well with the strings of the London Festival Orchestra and Pinder’s mellotron to create a groundbreaking new genre of symphonic rock.

There followed a string of big-selling albums including In Search of the Lost Chord and On the Threshold Of A Dream, which were successful enough for the group to set up their own label, Threshold Records. It was launched with a photoshoot of the band “sprawled on a Surrey commuter-belt lawn looking like slightly hip stockbrokers”, which reinforced the roasting that they were getting from the hipper-than-thou elements of the music press.

Although Thomas wrote some of the band’s more portentous material, he also wrote cheery songs with titles such as Are You Sitting Comfortably and Lazy Day. “I like writing simple tunes, because you don’t clutter it up,” he said. “You can go two ways — turn it into a great epic or a nice simple ditty.”

His later years were blighted by ill-health. He suffered from an incurable condition called cerebellar ataxia, which affected his balance, and in 2013 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “Sex and drugs and rock’n’roll are a thing of memories,” he said. “But I’ve had more than my fair share, so I’ve got no regrets.”

Ray Thomas, musician, was born on December 29, 1941. He died suddenly on January 4, 2018, aged 76

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My Comment 

Tomo was as I told him to his face a LEG-END. He laughed and agreed with me that he was a LEG-END. I saw the Moodies many many times here in the UK in Europe Canada and the United States. I loved their music mostly after Lodge and Hayward joined. It took me a while to warm to DOFP but it is a one of a kind album. I heard ISOTLC while visiting Carnaby Street it was being promoted in I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet a second hand clothes boutique. Yes BOUTIQUE. They became my band. As kids you have one band that you consider to be yours right? Anyhow back to Tomo. Honest, down to earth, No side to him at all. I visited Ray and Lee at their home a couple of times and it was like chatting with a mate. God bless him I say. As I left his home I would say “Tara a Bit ” as I am a Brummie and his wife being American we would laugh. He was a Rock Star old school and is a LEG-END. John Bishop

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Compton Verney 2017

Schools

During 2017, 6276 students and 889 teachers visited Compton Verney, generating an income of £36,685. This is an increase of 686 students compared to 2016. 3926 students were from primary schools, 1343 from secondary, 460 from colleges and universities, 152 from SEN schools, 40 from nurseries and 355 from other educational provision including home education groups. 2099 visits were for collection programmes, 2114 for Forest School, 1896 for exhibitions, 81 for teacher training activities and 86 for special projects. The most popular programmes were The Art of Perception (Op Art) with 1056 students visiting, Stone Age Settlers with 837, Mysterious Landscapes with 738 and Quentin Blake and Lost words with 649.
Due to the snow 4 schools cancelled their visits, which would have been an additional 110 students, all of whom were booked for Blake and Lost Words.
The Learning Team also worked with an additional 8 students from Oxford Brookes University on Learning Outside the Classroom placements and with 30 students from Lighthorne Heath Primary School on a Literacy outreach session based on their visit to Quentin Blake and Lost Words

Families

Over 9241 adults and children enjoyed a range of drop-in creative and Forest School activities during the school holidays, including Artspace and Forest Thursdays which were very well attended, bringing in as many people as one-off events days.
The early years programme continues to grow in popularity with Tiny Tuesday and Early years forest school attracting over 1200 visitors throughout the year.

Public programme

Dementia café in its second year has continued to be a success brining in 355 visitors on a regular monthly basis, increased by 100 from 2016. We had to cancel the last session of the year due to snow.
Events taking place during 2017 events such as May Day, China Revealed and Christmas Weekends were delivered by learning, attracting over 5338 visitors. One day over the middle Christmas weekend was cancelled due to snow and bad weather conditions.
Learning supported the Vintage Day & In-Light II providing family activities for a variety of ages for the 3220 visitors that attended the events. Luxmarlis planned a modest internal activity for families to respond to the In-Light display. A total of 638 took part in the activity in the evening.
The adult workshop programme consisted of the monthly Art in the Afternoon sessions and a film screening of The Wicker Man, to accompany the Creating the Countryside exhibition and as part of the national Museums at Night Event. 200 people took part on these events, generating an income of £2230.

In total the learning programme engaged over 23,280 people of all ages and generated an income of £38,915. This is a 15% increase in participants and an 8% increase in income from 2016.

During 2017, 6321 students and 895 teachers visited Compton Verney, generating an income of £36,685. This is an increase of 731 students compared to 2016. 3926 students were from primary schools, 1343 from secondary, 505 from colleges and universities, 152 from SEN schools, 40 from nurseries and 355 from other educational provision including home education groups. 2099 visits were for collection programmes, 2114 for Forest School, 1896 for exhibitions, 81 for teacher training activities and 131 for special projects. The most popular programmes were The Art of Perception (Op Art) with 1056 students visiting, Stone Age Settlers with 837, Mysterious Landscapes with 738 and Quentin Blake and Lost words with 649.

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