John Lodge has seen and done it all across his music career. The 74-year-old Englishman is best known as the bassist, singer, and songwriter for the Moody Blues, a legendary band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. But for all the rock memorabilia he’s accumulated, Lodge counts a pair of World War I medals his grandfathers passed down to him as his most-cherished possessions. These keepsakes hint at the reason why he views his involvement with the Celebrity Martini Glass Auction as more than just his civic duty. Lodge, who is participating in the Naples-based event for the second year, will team up with AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams to auction off a private show in support of CMGA’s primary mission: raising funds to benefit veterans’ organizations. The auction, an invite-only gathering taking place March 14 at Artis—Naples, has raised more than $4 million for local charities since 2008, with $3 million going toward veterans’ causes.
NI: Why is the mission of CMGA so personal to you?
Lodge: Being English, my family has literally been through wars twice. I’ve seen the damage, injuries, deaths, and everything else. What everyone puts themselves through to maintain our freedom is really important. After being in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever, a lot of the boys and girls have a lot of problems. We need to help out and show appreciation for what they’ve given.
There really isn’t any generation that has been spared.
When we first came over and toured America in the ’60s, there was us playing a concert, having a great time with lots of young people, and there were these other young people coming back from Vietnam, getting shot at and everything else. It was a very strange time. Surreal, really. We all used to travel at night [on the same flights]. We’d talk to them about what they were going through, and the connection was there all the while. I talked to my father and uncles about what they went through, and they told me what their parents went through. It’s horrendous. So, it’s important that we say thank you.
In addition to joining other celebrities in lending your autographs to the martini glass–centered works of art, you and Cliff Williams will auction off a private concert again this year. How did that partnership come about?
At the auction last year, I went over to Cliff and said, “Why don’t you and I just put ourselves up as an auction item, and we’ll perform at someone’s house?” It ended up being such a big event that we actually put on a [real show] at Kalea Bay. I managed to get Jon Davison of Yes to come along as well. I got some local musicians, who were fantastic, to come along. Everyone had a great time. This year, Cliff and I are going to put ourselves up again as an auction item. I think this time it’ll be even bigger, hopefully.
You’ve said in recent years that you still believe in the transformative power of music; how do you feel the Moody Blues did this?
We used to say in the ’60s, “Take you on a trip.” It was to try to move you away from the trials and aggravations of the day. You can do it with music. That’s what the Moody Blues tried to do. Take the listener on a journey.
Does the message in your music remain the same today?
It’s exactly the same. I play every day. I actually was just working on a new song when you called. I just enjoy it. I think there’s something very special about it. Everybody’s got their own take on life, and mine is to make music and hopefully to make people happy.
Does life on the road ever get old?
I don’t think you ever get tired of touring if you really love what you do. Even if you’ve traveled all day and the flights have been canceled and you have to make all sorts of arrangements, as soon as you get on stage, the energy from the audience reinvigorates you. You just want to give your best. We’re all there for the music.