The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England. Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder had been members of El Riot & the Rebels. They disbanded when Lodge, the youngest member, went to technical college and Michael Pinder joined the army. Michael Pinder then rejoined Thomas to form the Krew Cats. The pair recruited guitarist/vocalist Denny Laine, band manager-turned-drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The five appeared as the Moody Blues for the first time in Birmingham in 1964. The name developed from a hoped-for sponsorship from the M&B Brewery which failed to materialise, the band calling themselves both "The M B's" and "The M B Five" and was also a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, "Mood Indigo".
Soon, the band obtained a London-based management company, 'Ridgepride', formed by ex-Decca A&R man Alex Murray (Alex Wharton), who helped them land a recording contract with Decca Records in the spring of 1964. Initially they were signed to a management company who then leased their recordings to Decca. They released a single, "Steal Your Heart Away", that year which failed to chart. The Moody Blues appeared on the cult UK series "Ready Steady Go!" singing the uptempo 'B' side "Lose Your Money (But Don't Lose your Mind)". But it was their second single, "Go Now" (released later that year), which really launched their career, being promoted on TV with one of the first purpose-made promotional films in the pop era, produced and directed by Alex Wharton. The single became a hit in the United Kingdom (where it remains their only Number 1 single to date) and in the United States, where it reached #10. The band encountered management problems after the chart-topping hit and subsequently signed to Decca Records in the UK (London records in the USA) as actual recording artists. A four track Extended Play release titled: "The Moody Blues" featuring both sides of their first two Decca singles was issued in a colour picture sleeve in early 1965.
Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies, produced by Denny Cordell with a strong Merseybeat/R&B flavour, was released on Decca in Mono only in 1965. It contained the hit single together with one side of classic R&B covers, and a second including four Laine/Pinder originals."Bye Bye Bird" (Decca AT 15048) was lifted from the album in December 1965 as an overseas single charting in France (no.3).
Alex Wharton left the management firm and the group released a series of relatively unsuccessful singles. They enjoyed a minor UK hit with a cover of "I Don't Want To Go On Without You" (no.33) in February 1965, while the Pinder-Laine original "From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)" (no.22) produced by Denny Cordell (with a vocal choral sound towards the conclusion that anticipated their later more famous vocal sound on "Nights in White Satin") was issued as a UK single in May 1965. Further UK singles were: "Everyday"(no.44) in October 1965, another Pinder-Laine song, plus their later "This is My House (But Nobody Calls)" (Decca F 12498,1966) and "Boulevard De La Madelene" also issued in late 1966. Denny Laine quit in late 1966 and a final 'Mark one' Moodies single Pinder-Laine's "Life's Not Life" was scheduled for release in January 1967 (Decca F 12543) c/w "He Can Win". (This single's release is often listed as being cancelled, however, both promo and regular stock copies have been seen over the years.) In June 1966 Warwick left the group. He was briefly replaced by Rod Clark (born Rodney Clark, 23 November 1942, Surlingham, near Norwich, Norfolk), but in October, Clark departed the group, which split for a month. The group re-formed in November 1966 and new members were John Lodge, their bassist from El Riot, and Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three.