rock music videos of the sixties – 1964: the moody blues’ “go now” as the first modern rock video

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

THERE ARE LOADS OF STUFF on the In­ternet about the Moody Blues, the super-successful, much beloved group fabgear pop-rock that critics just can’t seem to stop hating! Yet there is al­most nothing on the ori­gins of the group’s first music video for their Go Now single of 1964. A piece of film that may be the first such video ever made!

The Moody Blues had a nine­teen gig res­i­dency at the Mar­quee Club during Sep­tember 1964. Ap­par­ently, during that stay, they recorded both sides of their single at the club’s newly put-together recording studio. After the ses­sion, man­ager Wharton threw up a black back­drop and shot the Moodys on 35 mm film miming their recording of Go Now!

Go Now! is an ex­cep­tional (given the cir­cum­stances) black and white video with the orig­inal five recording mem­bers mouthing the vo­cals. They are dressed in black and shot against the black back­drop, mostly from the chest up with a soft light fo­cused on their faces.


UK sheet music for the Moody Blues' "Go Now" (1964).

Sheet music for the UK for the song Go Now! Note how sleek and mod the Moodys were in 1964.

Go Now! as a rhythm & blues hit

The song Go Now! was written by Larry Banks in 1963. It was first recorded as a demo by the his wife, Bessie Banks. The demo found its way to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who recorded her prop­erly in a studio and re­leased it in on their own Tiger Records im­print in Jan­uary 1964. It reached #40 on the Cash Box R&B chart. Bessie Banks later commented:

“Go Now! was re­leased in Jan­uary 1964 and right away it was chosen Pick Hit of the Week on WINS. That means your record is played for seven days. Four days went by, I was so thrilled. On day five, when I heard the first line, I thought it was me, but all of a sudden, I re­al­ized it wasn’t.

At the end of the song it was an­nounced [that it was] the Moody Blues! I was too out-done. This was the time of the Eng­lish In­va­sion and the end of Bessie Banks’ ca­reer, so I thought Amer­i­ca’s DJs had stopped pro­moting Amer­ican artists.” (Wikipedia)

Somehow, this fairly ob­scure record caught the at­ten­tion of Denny Laine, who told the rest of his band that they should record the song. The Moody Blues single was re­leased on No­vember 13, 1964, and Go Now! reached #1 on some UK weekly charts in late Jan­uary ’65.

It en­tered the Amer­ican charts in mid-February, peaking at #6 on Cash Box but only reaching #10 on Bill­board. Due to its suc­cess, Leiber and Stoller reis­sued Mrs Banks’s ver­sion, this time on their Blue Cat Records. This time, it didn’t even make the Top 40.


The look of the video owes more than a nod to Robert Freeman’s al­ready fa­mous pho­to­graph on the WITH THE BEATLES album. Sev­eral scenes focus solely on Mike Pinder’s hands on the piano keyboard.

The first rock music video?

The pro­mo­tional video for the Moody Blues single is as­sumed to have been re­leased si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the single. This easily makes it the first rock music video that I could find—and makes Wharton both the pro­ducer and di­rector of the first rock music video! (He was also prob­ably the cre­ative spirit be­hind the video,)

Avid Record Collector’s Rating: ★★★

I was gen­erous with the three stars, one of which prob­ably goes to the film simply for being the first ‘modern’ rock music video and being so taste­fully el­e­gant in style and execution.

It is in­ter­esting to note that the vi­sual style of Go Now! ap­pears to have in­flu­enced Queen’s im­por­tant video to their first hit Bo­hemian Rhap­sody. That video opens with the four mem­bers miming the vo­cals in black, shot from the chest up, looking like the Moodys in Go Now!



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