Perusing my Across the Charts book of the Billboard charts of the 1960s, I noticed that the single Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues only got up to #103 on the US charts in early 1968. This was the first single off their second album Days of Future Past.
The group changed greatly between its first album, The Magnificent Moodies from 1965, and the second, both in terms of musical style and personnel. Denny Laine, who sang lead vocals on the group’s first big hit, a cover of Go Now, is best known as later being a mainstay of Paul McCartney’s OTHER band, Wings.
“Nights in White Satin was written by Justin Hayward, who joined the band the previous year after Denny Laine left the group. He got the idea for the song after someone gave him a set of white satin sheets, and wrote it in his bed-sit at Bayswater. Haywood told the Daily Express Saturday magazine May 3, 2008: ‘I wrote our most famous song, Nights in White Satin when I was 19. It was a series of random thoughts and was quite autobiographical. It was a very emotional time as I was at the end of one big love affair and the start of another. A lot of that came out in the song.'”
From the Wikipedia:
“The album, plus two singles therefrom, Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon…, took time to find an audience. In the Moody Blues’ native Britain, the two singles from the album didn’t initially catch on; Nights in White Satin made only No. 19 on the British singles chart in early 1968, and Tuesday Afternoon didn’t chart at all.
“However, the British public learned to appreciate Nights in White Satin subsequently; it made No. 9 on the UK singles chart on re-issue in December 1972 and No. 14 on the charts on another reissue at the end of 1979, and is now regarded as the Moody Blues signature song by British audiences. In the US, Nights in White Satin did not make the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968, although it reached No. 2 on re-release in 1972; Tuesday Afternoon was more successful on initial release stateside, peaking at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.”
I am fascinated that a song that was pretty much of a dud in one release can become a hit four years later. It was apparently music ahead of its time.
Tuesday Afternoon HERE
Nights in White Satin (album cut) HERE