Their fingerprints can be felt all over the music of The Byrds, The Doors, Crowded House and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Elvis was a fan. They were hugely influenced by The Beatles, but were also an influence on The Beatles. John Lennon wanted to produce them, and the sound of today’s Song Of The Day, “When You’re Ready,” had an influence on the sound of The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” Not only that, it comprised one half of what I would call a perfect single, with the ultra Lennonesque, “I Love You” on the flip.
They were a British Invasion band every bit as good as The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and The Who. In their ranks, they had one of the greatest vocalists of the entire British Invasion in Colin Blunstone, who could be at once breathy and plaintive, and then gritty and soulful, sometimes in the same song.
Add to that, not one, but two inspired songwriters in Chris White and Rod Argent, whose compositional abilities made perfectly crafted ‘60s pop records, high on melody and infused with great harmonies. It was all held together by Argent’s jazz-infused piano and organ playing, the tasty and tuneful guitar work of Paul Atkinson, and the air tight rhythm section of White on bass and Hugh Grundy on drums, providing a danceable and infectious back beat.
Yet their impact was far greater in the U.S. than at home where their very first single “She’s Not There” peaked at #12 on the British charts, but made it all the way to #2 on these shores. Its follow up, “Tell Her No,” climbed to #6 in the U.S., but didn’t even make it into the UK top 40. So after a string of superb single releases here and abroad including “What More Can I Do,” “I Love You,” “I Can’t Make Up Your Mind,” “Summertime,” “Goin’ Out Of My Head” and “Is This The Dream” that didn’t seem to ignite the imagination of the public, they released their final magnum opus, “Odessey and Oracle” in 1968 and then called it quits.
But timing is everything…so it is somewhat ironic that The Zombies’ biggest worldwide hit, “Time Of The Season,” happened after they disbanded. “Odessey and Oracle” wouldn’t have even gotten a release on these shores had it not been for Al Kooper, who worked for the group’s U.S. label and convinced them to release the album. Even though the group was no longer together, the album’s release was accompanied by the release of the single which went on to become their biggest hit all over the world.
After the breakup, Rod Argent went on to form the group Argent with Chris White (who wrote songs for them, but did not perform.) They scored a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, and had the distinction of having both KISS and Christian rock group Petra cover their song, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.” Colin Blunstone recorded many solo records, some with the help of his former band mates; he released three albums on Elton John’s Rocket Record Company label during the 1970s, and recorded vocals for The Alan Parsons Project albums “Eye In The Sky” and “Ammonia Avenue.”
Throughout the years, Argent and Blunstone have toured many times together as a duo, or under the Zombies name performing hits from all phases of their intertwined careers. The definitive Zombies collection available today is Zombie Heaven, a four CD box set released by Ace Records in the U.K.