Rodford’s cousin and longtime band mate Rod Argent confirmed Rodford’s death on the Zombies’ Facebook page, with Argent adding that Rodford died Saturday following “a fall on the stairs.”
“Jim was not only a magnificent bass player, but also from the first inextricably bound to the story of The Zombies. An enormous enabler for us,” Argent wrote in his long tribute to Rodford. “To the end, Jim’s life was dedicated to music. He was unfailingly committed to local music – an ever present member of the local scene in St.Albans, where he had spent his whole life.”
The Kinks, who recruited Rodford following bassist John Dalton’s permanent exit from the band in 1978, also paid tribute to Rodford on Twitter. “It is with deep sadness that we have learned that Jim Rodford passed away – he toured and recorded with the Kinks for many years and will be greatly missed. He was much loved by all of us,” the band wrote.
Rodford spent 18 years as the Kinks’ bassist, performing on every album from 1979’s Low Budget to 1993’s Phobia, the band’s final LP before their breakup three years later.
As Argent wrote in his tribute to his cousin, Rodford was the first musician Argent attempted to add to his then-fledgling Zombies, but the bassist ultimately turned down the job since he was already a member of the popular British band the Bluetones. However, Rodford was instrumental in the development of the Zombies, lending the group the Bluetones’ equipment, orchestrating the Zombies’ early shows and “passing judgment” on their breakout 1964 single “She’s Not There,” penned by Argent.
Rodford also served as bassist in the Mike Cotton Sound before the Zombies’ initial breakup in 1967; two years later, Argent would finally unite with his cousin to co-found Argent alongside drummer Bob Henrit and singer/guitarist Russ Ballard. Rodford would appear on all seven Argent albums – including the band’s best-known song “Hold Your Head Up” – before that band dissolved in 1976.
Two years later, Rodford embarked on his nearly two-decade-long tenure with the Kinks. Dave Davies tweeted of Rodford Saturday, “I’m devastated Jim’s sudden loss I’m too broken up to put words together it’s such a shock I always thought Jim would live forever in true rock and roll fashion – strange – great friend great musician great man – he was an integral part of the Kinks later years.”
Rodford also played bass in the Kast Off Kinks, a group made up of Kinks expats like Mick Avory and Ian Gibbons, beginning in the late 2000s.
Over 40 years after he was first asked, Rodford finally joined the Zombies when Argent and singer Colin Blunstone revived the band in 2004; Rodford and his son, drummer Steve Rodford, remained members of the Zombies’ touring unit until the bassist’s death. Rodford also appeared on the group’s 2015 comeback LP Still Got That Hunger.
Argent continued in his tribute to Rodford, “Jim was a wonderful person, loved by everybody. When Colin [Blunstone] and I, shocked and hardly able to talk, shared the news this morning, Colin said ‘I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him…’ He will be unbelievably missed. Goodnight and God Bless dear friend.”