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The Zombies

Sophie Alexander


The Zombies were one of the first ‘British Invasion’ groups, following the Beatles in 1964, to show the Americans just how we Brits rock and roll.  In case you’re unaware, a British invasion group is not something from outer space, but a band that went to America and caused something of a mass hysteria, among young girlies in particular, think screaming and fainting at airports, good old fashioned weeping at the mere sight of a mushroom haircut. 

If you’re not familiar with the Zombies, I believe you, young reader, will have heard of the timeless classics ‘She’s Not There’ and ‘Time of the Season’.  Glee recently put on a … rendition shall we say, of ‘She’s Not There’, so if for this reason than no other, their music should be known to you.

The Zombies met at St. Albans High School in 1961, at that moment in time they consisted of keyboardist Rod Argent, guitarist Paul Atkinson and drummer Hugh Grundy.  Bassist Paul Arnold introduced the others to singer Colin Blunstone.  After gigging about in their local area and winning a competition in which the prize was a recording contract with British Decca Records (notable for turning town the Beatles) the band turned pro and in 1964 began recording.  

First single ‘She’s Not There’ stormed the charts and was a worldwide success, getting to #2 in America and #12 in the UK.  It was groundbreaking musically, for featuring an electric piano as the lead instrument, which in the UK was the first hit single to do so.

Whilst hugely successful at the start of their careers, the Zombies were not able to carry on surfing the wave of their musical triumph.  The commercial sea turned against them somewhat and their jazz and soft rock fusion was not quite rock and roll enough for the UK market of the 60s.  Their dreamy genre of music however, did ensure that their single ‘Time of the Season’ was the soundtrack to the flower filled 60s hippy movement. 

The Zombies may be something of the granddads of British rock and roll, but their continuing influence and relevance throughout the decades has ensured this band is an absolute staple of good old traditional Britpop.  They are one of the bands that contemporary Britpopian’s (think Blur, Pulp and co) would hark back to as the pioneers of the genre. 

If you’ve heard all their hits, try listening to their cover of Burt Bacharach’s ‘The Look of Love’, in which Blunstone’s voice is as smooth and sexy as a male Dusty Springfield.  About to embark on a 50th anniversary tour, with a new album out on May 9th, there’s still plenty of time to catch up with these guys.

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