The Zombies

  • British rock band formed in 1961, from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. The members during the 60s were Rod Argent (lead vocals, keyboards, songwriting), Colin Blunstone (lead and backing vocals), Paul Atkinson (guitars), Hugh Grundy (drums), and Chris White (bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, songwriting).
  • Argent, Atkinson and Grundy were schoolmates, and they started to play together in 1958, barely teenagers. By 1961, Blunstone and bass player Paul Arnold joined, and they started playing at the local rugby club. Initially, they named themselves The Mustangs, but they quickly realized that there were other groups with that name. Arnold suggested the name be changed to The Zombies, and the others agreed. It was the only contribution Arnold made to the band – he soon left and was replaced by White. They won a music competition sponsored by The London Times, and this led to a recording contract.
  • In the summer of 1964, they released their first single, She’s Not There. It became a huge hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band was sent to tour in the U.S., increasing their popularity. Late that year, they followed with Tell Her No – it made it to #6 on the Hot 100. The success of these singles led to the release of their debut album in 1965 – titled The Zombies in the U.S. and Begin Here in the UK (with several different songs as compared to the American album, including covers of R&B songs).
  • Several other singles were released after their first successes, but nothing caught on. Frustrated, they signed a new recording contract and determined to release an album that had a different sound.  The first single from the album, Care of Cell 44, was released in November 1967. It sold poorly, as did a second single from the album, and by December, they split up. Despite low expectations from the record company, the psychedelic sounding album Odessey and Oracle was released in 1968, even though the band was no longer together. A year after it was recorded, the song Time of the Season was released as a single, and after getting limited airplay, it finally got hot, and reached #3 on the Hot 100 in March 1969, two years after it was recorded.
  • While initially Odessey and Oracle was not critically acclaimed, time has been good to the album – Rolling Stone now ranks it at #100 on their list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. And, they rank She’s Not There at #297 on their Greatest Songs list.
  • The members of the band worked on their own projects after they disbanded – most notably, Rod Argent’s new band, Argent, had a couple of hits in the early 70s. In 1991, they briefly reunited (without Argent) long enough to release an album, New World – according to the liner notes, it was recorded primarily to protect the name of the band, as there were several impostor groups using their name. In 1999, Argent saw Blunstone in the audience as he was performing at a charity concert for another artist, and he invited Blunstone on stage for an impromptu performance.
  • This set the stage for an on-going partnership. In 2000, they started playing shows as Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent, and they released an album. In 2004 they started using The Zombies name again. New studio albums were released in 2004, 2011 and 2015. In 2017, the 4 original surviving members (Atkinson died in 2004) did a North American tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Odessey and Oracle, and they have a full touring schedule in 2018 – the artists are well into their 70s now!
  • The Zombies was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • I’ve got to say – their 3 big hits – She’s Not There, Tell Her No, and Time of the Season – are great 60s songs. Watch the band perform their biggest hit, She’s Not There, on the 1965 TV show Hullabaloo. Very 60s British psychedelic, very typical 60s TV performance, complete with weird stage props and zombie-like women on stage with them. This is awesome – take the 143 seconds to watch it all!

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