The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” hit Number One on the Cashbox singles chart on March 29th, 1969. Fifty years later to the day, the group appeared at Barclays Center to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “The fact is that we’ve been nominated a few times,” says drummer Hugh Grundy. But he calls the timing of today’s induction ceremony “serendipity in itself.” “What’s meant to be is meant to be,” Grundy adds. “We had to wait for a while, but we made it.”
On the big night, the Zombies spoke with Rolling Stone about the meaning of their Rock Hall induction and touring together after years of working on separate projects.
What does it feel like to actually be here today?
Rod Argent: We’re so thrilled and delighted. We’ve got close in the last five years. We’ve actually been nominated four times in the last five years. Then it gets to the point where you think it’s not gonna actually turn past the winning post. But it has this year. Suddenly, we’re there forever. That’s the great thing. In 300 years time, if someone is researching way way back to see what happened, we’ll be there with some of our all-time heroes. That’s something that can’t be taken away from us.
Chris White: The lovely thing about the Zombies family is they’re still working. So we’re celebrating Odyssey and Oracle and all the stuff that went before, and Rod and Colin are touring, and it’s great to get together again to celebrate both the old and the new.
The Zombies: Not a lot has changed really. In some ways, it’s almost as if we played two weeks ago. It just feels very natural. There’s something about this combination of musicians that works. It’s a unique sound, and it’s very easy when we get back together again just to fall into the same positions that we were in before. It’s wonderful. It’s a magical experience.
“Time of the Season” going to Number One 50 years ago today — what is that like?
The Zombies: It’s crazy. That was the day that Cashbox came out, March 29th, 1969. I’ve got a picture of it at home: “This week’s Number One, the Zombies.” And some of our heroes are further down the chart. It’s Elvis there down the chart. It feels really amazing.
How did your life change?
Argent: We’d broken up by that time. I’d already started to form Argent. Chris and I were actually with Clive Davis negotiating our production deal for Argent, for Colin’s first solo album that we were producing while “Time of the Season” was Number One. It felt like a fantastic position to be in to move forward. We never considered re-forming just for the cash. I’ve got absolutely nothing against getting cash. But it felt the right thing to follow our enthusiasms. And we couldn’t ditch our enthusiasms. So we just moved on basically. But we did turn down an awful lot of money. They offered us a million pounds to do a tour?
Chris and I had our current band that we were loving touring with. Chris used to often come along. He’d say, you know what I often dreamed of? Do you realize it’s 40 years since Odyssey and Oracle came out and we’ve never ever played it live. It’s my dream that we get the original guys together and play it live. We said, why not?
So many people came to see it. I remember Paul Weller, who’s been a huge supporter of ours, bought tickets for what became three nights. On the first night, our manager walked out and said, Paul Weller’s standing in the rain in line. We said, get him in for God’s sake! So he came in and brought us a big magnum of champagne. He came on all three nights. We had so many people come to see us — Robert Plant, Snow Patrol.
What are your 2019 plans?
Colin Blunstone: We’ve kept touring the whole time. There is something planned. There will be something with Brian Wilson later in the summer.
Was it a magical experience to play that album onstage?
The Zombies: It really was. And suddenly we were told, as we went onstage in London, who was in the audience. We were like, oh, God. If this doesn’t work — we’d only had two days of production rehearsals. If this doesn’t work, it’s going to be the longest night of my life. But you know what, within 40 seconds, it was obvious, that it was all gonna be really good.