How the Moody Blues Helped the Beatles Make ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

No innovator gets far without a little help from their friends. It’s well known The Beatles took influence from musical giants who came before them. At the same time, they took influence from contemporaries like the Moody Blues. Here’s how the Moody Blues’ Mike Pinder led John Lennon down the path to create “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

The Beatles at a table
The Beatles | Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images

The instrument that made ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ possible

It all starts with an instrument called the Mellotron. Firstly, according to the book Electronic and Experimental Music, Harry Chamberlain invented the Mellotron in 1947. The instrument sounds otherworldly to many fans. Subsequently, Mellotrons gained popularity after Streetly Electronics began manufacturing them. Mike Pinder, a member of the Moody Blues, was also a salesman for Streetly Electronics. Predictably, his band started using the Mellotron in their music. In fact, the instrument became central to their album Days of Future Passed.

Perhaps the most famous use of the Mellotron is in “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Some fans see the Fab Four’s use of the instrument as revolutionary. Interestingly, it was Pinder who introduced John Lennon to the Mellotron.

Steve Pinder on introducing John Lennon to the Mellotron

“Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles

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“We did the Beatles’ last tour of England, [before] we reformed the Moody Blues,” Pinder explained to Rolling Stone. “Ray and I were busy creating our own music, but we were always inspired by [the Fab Four]. If you visualize the world of music like a giant mansion with countless rooms to explore, I understood the Beatles to be the ultimate explorers of the mansion. They opened up door after door, leaving those doors open for other musicians to enter and explore the room and its possibilities.”

Because the Fab Four were so creative, Pinder wanted them to be aware of the Mellotron. “[T]his is why I wanted the guys to have a Mellotron. The Mellotron allowed musicians to explore musical landscapes – and who better to do that then…the Beatles?”

How the Moody Blues felt about the Beatles

The Moody Blues sitting on the grass
Moody Blues | Chris Walter/WireImage

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In other words, Pinder introduced John to the Mellotron which led to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The New Daily reports “Strawberry Fields Forever” was released on February 17, 1967. According to Billboard, “Strawberry Fields Forever” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequently, it’s become one of the Fab Four’s most acclaimed songs. Did the Moody Blues have any issue with the Beatles after “Strawberry Fields Forever” became a huge success?

Mental Floss reports the Fab Four released “I Am the Walrus” a few months after “Strawberry Fields Forever.” According to the book Experience the Beatles, Pinder provided backing vocals for the song. Moreover, Pinder told Rolling Stones the Beatles were his friends. In addition, Rolling Stone says the Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward was thrilled to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the Beatles. In conclusion, it seems the relationship between the two bands was good — and very fruitful.

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