Ray Thomas, a founding member of The Moody Blues, has died, aged 76.
The flautist and singer died at his home in Surrey on Thursday (January 4), the band’s labels, Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings, confirmed.
“We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness,” the labels wrote in a statement. “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.”
It is with profound sorrow and sadness that Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings regret to announce that Ray…
No cause of death has been given at present. As Billboard reports, Thomas had previously disclosed in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Thomas founded the British rock group with Mike Pinder and Denny Laine in 1964, with the first line-up completed by Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick. Their second album ‘Days Of Future Passed’, released in 1967, was cited as one of the first examples of prog rock, and went to Number Two in the US charts. It also contained one of their biggest hits, ‘Nights In White Satin’.
The musician released two solo albums in the 1970s – ‘From Mighty Oaks’, and ‘Hopes, Wishes And Dreams’. He retired from The Moody Blues in 2002 due to health issues, but continued to make music.
Last year, it was announced members of the Moody Blues, including Thomas, were to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland in April 2018. They will be inducted alongside Nina Simone, The Cars, Bon Jovi, and Dire Straits.
Fans have begun to pay tribute to Thomas online. One called him a “songwriting genius and the greatest rock flautist ever”, while another wrote: “The sad loss of the backbone of the Moodies and a vastly underrated, innovative musician.” See those and more tributes below.
I don't know what to say . Ray Thomas, song writing genius and the greatest rock flautist ever, original Moody Blue … your boat has finally sailed. RIP. Thank you for the music. Irreplaceable and unforgettable. I'm just numb ?? pic.twitter.com/WRcbYD0oea
— Annette Powell (@AnnettePowell14) January 7, 2018
Simply devastated to hear the news about Ray Thomas. Without doubt Ray was an exceptional musician, performer, wit, intellect & friend – indeed one my favourite people of all time. To say he will be missed in an understatement of vast proportions. Love to all the Moodies family
— Gordy Marshall (@gordymarshall) January 7, 2018
Ray Thomas, one of my lifelong all-time musical heroes. Farewell Ray, and thank you for the glorious tunes and wonderful memories. pic.twitter.com/ZBEieuXLiq
— Rhonda Conley (@rhondarconley) January 7, 2018
RIP Ray Thomas @MoodyBluesToday. The sad loss of the backbone of the Moodies and a vastly underrated, innovative musician.
— Peter Jackson (@APejacks) January 7, 2018
I'd like to also pay tribute to Ray Thomas. His songs were heartfelt and positive, and just great tunes. His flute playing was gracefully melodic and inspired me to learn to play. "He'll fly his astral plane. Takes you trips around the bay." Good flight, Ray. @AnnettePowell14 https://t.co/YYOLaE9iBX
— J B Fairfield (@jbtimetraveller) January 7, 2018
R.I.P. Ray Thomas, a founding member of the Moody Blues. Thank you for being an integral part of one of the greatest bands of all time. “Floating, free as a bird…” ?
— Jeffrey Izzo (@tunesmith1220) January 7, 2018
No idea Ray Thomas of the Moody's had died till just now. Let me amend tonight's Good Evening pic accordingly. pic.twitter.com/TC9bdoM1uH
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) January 7, 2018
Deeply saddened to hear the passing of Ray Thomas singer/flautist and one of the founding members of the Moody Blues. Ray was an absolute legend and a pioneer of rock. Thanks for the timeless music veteran cosmic rocker! #MoodyBlues #Legend
— Josh Mertens (@Mertz1213) January 7, 2018
Sorry to hear about the death of musician and singer Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues. Great Sixties group. Their hits like 'Nights in White Satin' still echo in many memories – and are often heard on the radio. He played a haunting flute on many numbers. He was 76, I think. pic.twitter.com/DJ5cJL4DX1
— terry manners (@TelBabe) January 7, 2018
Our Dear Cosmic Rocker has passed. Rise in Paradise, Ray Thomas. Thank you for everything. Moody Blues Forever. pic.twitter.com/caB7hAsKD7
— Dora Rettig (@DorieRettig) January 7, 2018