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Denny Laine, co-founder of bands Wings and The Moody Blues, dies at 79

By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

(CNN) — Denny Laine, co-founder of bands Wings and The Moody Blues and longtime collaborator of Paul McCartney, died on Tuesday morning, according to Laine’s wife Elizabeth Hines. He was 79.

Hines wrote in a post on Laine’s official Instagram account that Laine had “been in ICU on a ventilator this past week.” She said Laine had Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), which “is unpredictable and aggressive.”

“He fought everyday. He was so strong and brave, never complained,” she wrote.

In 1971, Laine helped form Wings alongside Paul and Linda McCartney. They released their debut album “Wild Life” that same year, and followed up with their second album, 1973’s “Red Rose Speedway,” which brought them their first No. 1 hit with “My Love.”

Wings’ most iconic musical offering was their 1973 album “Band on the Run. The album became one of the top-selling British albums of 1974 and reached No. 1 in US. It includes hits such as the title track “Band on the Run,” plus “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It” and “No Words,” a track that Laine co-wrote.

The band won a Grammy for best pop vocal performance by a duo, group or chorus in 1975 for the title track off the album. They later won for best rock instrumental performance for 1979’s “Rockestra Theme.”

Working with McCartney was a harmonious experience, Laine said in an interview with Guitar World earlier this year.

“If Paul was on piano, I’d have a bit more freedom to find my own guitar part. It was quite easy to do that with him,” he said. “You have to remember – he and I grew up with the same musical tastes. We listened to all the same bits, so we have a very similar style.”

The Birmingham, England native went on to co-write “Mull of Kintyre” in 1977 with McCartney, a featured track on Wings’s 1993 reissue of their 1978 album “London Town” that reached No. 1 on the UK’s Guinness Charts of British Hits Singles, and became the UK’s highest-selling single ever at the time.

A singer, songwriter and guitarist, Laine is the only member of Wings who was with the band for its entire run, outside of the McCartneys.

Later on Tuesday, McCartney paid tribute to his former bandmate via social media.

“I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when The Beatles toured with the Moody Blues,” he wrote, later calling him “an outstanding vocalist and guitar player.”

“Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people,” McCartney later continued. “He will be missed by all his fans and remembered with great fondness by his friends.”

Prior to Wings, Laine founded The Moody Blues in 1964, with whom he played until 1965.

Laine’s tenure with the Moody Blues was brief but effective. The musician co-founded the band in 1964 in Birmingham with keyboardist Mike Pinder, but left after the group released their 1965 debut album “The Magnificent Moodies.”

Laine noted in a 2017 interview with Billboard that he was part of the band’s early period as they transitioned from an R&B/blues band “to being more progressive.”

“We had this kind of hippie-dippy type of vibe going in those days, and they just developed it further,” he said. “But if it hadn’t been for Mike and Ray (Thomas) talking me into getting into their band, I could’ve been stuck in Birmingham and not done anything, so I’m grateful for that.”

Laine’s contribution to the Moody Blues was later recognized when he was included in the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018 alongside Pinder, Thomas, Graeme Edge, John Lodge and Justin Hayward.

In his later years, Laine continued to regularly tour and launched his “Songs & Stories” live show earlier this year, which includes a setlist that spans his decades of work. He performed his final shows earlier this summer, according to a representative for Laine.

“I can’t live without live work,” he told Guitar World. “There’s no substitute for playing live and getting the feeling of connecting with an audience.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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