Denny Laine, whose real name is Brian Frederick Hines, was born on October 29th, 1944, in Birmingham, England. Denny first took the guitar under the influence of jazz legend Django Reinhardt. At the age of 11, he had already played in public. One of his earliest groups was Johnny Dean & the Dominators. “Johnny Dean” was Denny’s first alias.
At the time, there was also another group in the Birmingham scene called The Senators, which were convinced by Denny to become his backing group. Then, he changed his name to Denny Laine, and The Senators became The Diplomats. Denny started his professional career with Denny Laine and the Diplomats, formed in September of 1962. They had a very interesting style! They wore suits and bleached their hair. The band never released anything, but they appeared with The Beatles on a concert at the Plaza Ballroom in Old Hill, which occurred on July 5th, 1963. The band also had another name, when Nicky James, an Elvis impersonator, joined it for a short time. They became Nicky James with Denny Laine and the Diplomats. Laine left the band in April 1964, upset with their lack of commercial success, but The Diplomats kept on.
Then, one month later, Denny, along with Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick, formed The Moody Blues. Denny was the guitarist and vocalist of the group. Their biggest hit was Go Now, which achieved number 1 on English charts for 2 weeks and number 10 on Billboard. More than 1 million copies have been sold around the world. The Moody Blues became very well-known after that, so Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, signed them to a contract. Then, they went on tour with the Fab Four. Denny says they were invited by The Beatles to go, since they would go to the same clubs and parties and became friends. Although they had other great songs, the group’s popularity started to decline, so Denny left on August 1966 along with Clint Warwick.
Laine, then, created Denny Laine and the Electric String Band, which inspired the formation of the famous Electric Light Orchestra (which, by the way, had 2 Denny’s ex-bandmates on The Diplomats, Bev Bevan and Roy Wood). This new band mixed electric instruments with amplified violin and cello. The idea was VERY good, but it didn’t work out for Denny, although the group got very good concert reviews (they played with Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967!). You see, the idea worked out for ELO 3 years later! Anyway, Denny moved on to the band Balls around summer 1969.
Denny originally joined Balls as a bassist, and had as a bandmate his guitarist in the Electric String Band, Trevor Burton. In December 1969, Denny and Trevor exchanged places (Laine became the guitarist and Burton became the bassist). This band had around 5 different line-ups along the years. Only one single was released: Fight for my country / Janie slow down. They split in February 1971.
While on Balls, Denny also participated on some sessions with 2 of the best guitarists in the world, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, but none of the material was ever released. He also was a member of Ginger Baker’s Airforce, a rock band that played lots of gigs in England and went on an American Tour, being very welcomed! Unfortunately, it was a short career, for the band was dissolved by Ginger Baker in February 1970.
Then, in 1971, Denny made his most succesful move, when he was invited by Paul McCartney to join his new group, Wings. Paul rang Denny, said he had done this album Ram and was looking for a male voice to put up a band. Denny accepted and the next day they met at Apple to make up arrangements. Denny was the only member in Wings (besides Paul and Linda) that stayed from the very beggining to the end, in 1980. With Wings, Denny wrote his songs (e.g. Again & Again & Again, Time to Hide) and co-wrote many others with McCartney, like the multi-million selling Mull of Kintyre, Paul’s first number 1 since he was a beatle.
On tours, Denny even sang Go Now, which can be found in the album Wings Over America. After many tours, albums and line-ups, Wings broke up. The main reason, as told by many people, is that Denny was very upset because Paul was arrested in Japan after being caught with marijuana in his luggage. After that, he thought the future of the band was uncertain. Paul says that he was already tired of dealing with a band and tired of so many different line-ups. Anyway, Paul and Denny remained friends. McCartney specially appears on Denny’s Japanese Tears, and Denny appears on the followings McCartney solo albums: Tug of War (playing in almost every song) and Pipes of Peace (listed in the “Thanks” section).
After Wings, Denny started to work alone, releasing his own albums, great ones, by the way. He worked with his wife at the time, Jo Jo (who died in 2006), and bandmates from his previous bands, like Steve Holly (Wings), Rich Grech and Ginger Baker(Ginger Baker’s Airforce). He also worked with The World Classic Rockers, a band with musicians who were ex-members of the greatest rock bands in the world, like Steppenwolf, Toto, The Eagles, and, of course, The Moody Blues and Wings.
He is currently living in the USA and working on a new album, called Valley of Dreams (visit the Links section to learn more).
Denny has been married once, to Jo Jo Laine (born Joanne LaPatrie, in Boston, on July 13, 1952; died on October 29, 2006). He had two children with her, Laine (born in 1973) and Heidi (born in 1974).
Denny has three other kids from other relationships: Damian James (born in 1967, son of Catherine James), Ainsley Adams (born in 1981, son of Gilly Adams) and Lucianne Grant (born in 1987, daughter of Helen Grant — who was Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant’s daughter).
- Denny did backing vocals for George Harrison’s All Those Years Ago, along with Paul and Linda McCartney.
- Denny participated on 2 projects of Paul McCartney’s family members: Linda’s posthumous solo album (Wide Prairie) and Paul’s brother Mike McGear, who released his album McGear in September, 1974.
- Wings had a pseudonym: The Country Hams. Using that name, they recorded Walking in the Park with Eloise, which is a song written by Paul’s father, Jim.
- Denny was involved in a project with Zak Starkey, beatle Ringo Starr’s son. It was called Wind in the willows, and it was a musical translation of a novel.
- Denny sang I wish it Could be Christmas Everyday in an album named Santa Claus goes Heavy Metal.