The Zombies

  • Biography:

    Though the Zombies had several major hits, their career was a frustrating one. Paul Atkinson, Rod Argent, and Hugh Grundy met at St. Albans School, and they soon linked up with Colin Blunstone and bassist Paul Arnold. Six months later Arnold was replaced by Chris White. After winning a rock-band contest held by a local newspaper, they auditioned with British Decca in 1964. That July, the electric-piano-centered "She's Not There" was released; it became a worldwide smash, going to #2 in America. A second single, "Leave Me Be," failed, but "Tell Her No" went Top 10, the Zombies last hit for some time. They also contributed songs to the movie Bunny Lake Is Missing.

    In 1967 they recorded a final LP, Odessey and Oracle (the only album the band themselves approve of). They broke up two weeks after it was completed, in December 1967. Columbia staff producer Al Kooper fought to have the album issued; when it was released, in late 1968, it yielded a #1 gold hit in "Time of the Season." The band declined to re-form, although sizable sums were offered to the musicians. Argent already was moving ahead on plans for his eponymous band and others were fed up with the music business. Blunstone had first gone back to working in an insurance office, then to working as a singer under the name Neil MacArthur. With that pseudonym he had a 1970 hit with a remake of "She's Not There." He made several, Epic-released solo LPs under his own name, beginning in 1971 with One Year (produced by Argent and White). In 1978 the unsuccessful Never Even Thought appeared on Elton John's Rocket Records. Blunstone has since formed a group called Keats. He also sang on several records by the Alan Parsons Project.

    Atkinson first went into programming computers. He later worked in A&R, first for Columbia in New York, and later at RCA, where he was vice president of West Coast A&R. Grundy also worked in Columbia's A&R department, but in the '80s he ran a horse transport business near London. White cowrote songs and produced records for Argent (for whom he wrote "Hold Your Head Up"). In the '70s he helped discover Dire Straits. Original bassist Arnold became a doctor in Scotland. Epic released a two-record "best-of," Time of the Zombies, in 1973. The four-CD Zombie Heaven renewed pop fans' interest in the band. By the late '90s, critics often referred to Odessey and Oracle as the British equivalent of the Beach Boys' masterpiece Pet Sounds. By the decade's end, Argent had finished an album of classical piano and Blunstone had resumed his solo touring after over 20 years. He continues to record on his own as well. The two performed together in New York for the first time in more than 30 years as part of Cave Stomp at the Village Underground nightclub.

    This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).