Read Susanna Hoffs' Heartfelt Tribute to The Zombies at Rock Hall - Rolling Stone
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Read Susanna Hoffs’ Tender Rock Hall Tribute to the Zombies

The Bangles frontwoman honors the Zombies’ legacy with enthusiastic induction speech

The Bangles’ Susana Hoffs celebrated the Zombies finally getting their due while inducting the British Invasion group in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite being eligible for induction since 1989, the Zombies didn’t land on the ballot until 2014 and it took three tries before they were inducted this year.

Hoffa has committed her love to the Zombies to record on multiple occasions. She notably covered the band’s 1967 track, “Care of Cell 44,” on her album with Matthew Sweet, Under the Covers, Vol. 1, and then recorded a version of “This Will Be Our Year” for her 2012 project, From Me to You. Hoffa also contributed to the 2017 book, The “Odyssey”: The Zombies in Words and Images.

Hoffa expressed her excitement about getting to induct the Zombies on social media when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lineup was announced. On Instagram she shared a quick video, while on Twitter she wrote, “I’m beyond thrilled! My love for the Zombies knows no bounds!”

Read Hoffs’ entire speech below.

I’ve loved the Zombies for as long as I can remember. I first heard them when I was very a little girl in the 1960s — in the backseat of my Mom’s station wagon — and though their music played through a tinny car radio, its elegance, soulfulness, tonal textures, and foggy London intrigue, found me on the sunny palm-lined streets of Los Angeles. It was love, at first listen. I may not have understood the sophisticated mix of influences in their songs — jazz, classical, baroque, rhythm and blues — but none of that mattered to the little girl in the station wagon. Their music seemed to defy the laws of physics — reaching through space and time to thrill and enthrall me, as if — by magic! But whatever they were doing, I thought to myself — “I want to do that!  When I grow up — I want to do that.”

They were just teenagers when they started the band, in St Albans, not far from London. Rod, a choir boy, Hugh a drummer in the marching band, Chris played bass and Paul played guitar — and Colin — played rugby — which I can hardly imagine! He had to have been the kindest bloke you could ever knock heads with in a rugby scrum. But, by the time they were 18, the lads had a number one hit in America with ‘She’s Not There’ quickly followed by “Tell Her No.” Both songs were written by budding songwriter Rod Argent, who just so happened to be a virtuoso on the keyboards. Rod’s expressive playing would define the the Zombies distinctive sound, along with Chris and Paul’s ingenious guitar work and chiming three-part harmonies. And Hugh — your iconic, hypnotic, drumming — and of course, Colin’s magnificent, mellifluous voice.

The band’s songs are a case study in craft and excellence, but even more importantly, the kind of songs you wanna put on a mix tape, or play on a boombox beneath someone’s window, because they say the things you wanna say — and express the feelings you wanna share with someone but may not have the nerve to! Songs like, “You Make Me Feel Good,” “The Way I Feel Inside” and “I Love You” —  sincere, heartfelt gems delivered with unflinching, undeniable passion.

Which brings me to their masterpiece: the astonishing album, Odessey and Oracle.

Rod: Your brilliant Time of the Season,” “Care of Cell 44,” and — “A Rose for Emily” — “A Rose for Emily”! This song is a miracle. It captures profound loneliness in the most tender way.  And the hauntingly beautiful melody is so transcendent — it breaks our hearts, yet somehow, still, manages to lift us up!

And Chris: Your extraordinary songwriting contributions to this album: “Brief Candles,” “Beechwood Park,” and “This Will Be Our Year” — a song that will be played as long as lovers vow their love to one another — with lyrics like: “The warmth of your love’s like the warmth from the sun,” and, “Don’t let go of my hand now the darkness has gone.” And these words of comfort: “You don’t have to worry all your worried days are gone” — I mean who doesn’t want to hear someone say that to them?  I know I’m always happy to listen to Colin sing them to me — which brings me to Colin.

Colin. Your wondrous voice. There aren’t enough adjectives. The tone and timbre of it, like silk and velvet and linen woven through each and every syllable you sing. And no one sings “longing” like you, my friend. Not to mention, the sighs and the oohs — oh, I’ll just say it — your voice is just plain sexy! But it’s your fearless ability to emote, at the risk of exposing your deepest emotions and vulnerabilities that is rare and brave and authentic — and absolutely inspiring.

My love affair with the Zombies may have started in the Sixties, but the now 60-year-old me loves them still — even more, as I’ve had the great privilege of knowing what fine human beings they are, and the great fortune of seeing them perform many times — watching them inspire a whole new generation of music lovers. But that’s the thing about music — it knows no boundaries, no borders — it travels straight to our hearts. I listen to the Zombies every day on those same palm-lined streets of my youth because quite honestly — I crave — I need — a little dose of their particular sonic alchemy. And it never fails to touch me, inspire me, excite and dazzle me — to make me feel less alone, to lift me when I’m down. And even when their music moves me with its poignancy to tears, it reminds me of what it is to be alive — to be human — and of the power of song and music to connect us all!

So Colin, Rod, Chris, Hugh and Paul: Thank you for the music and the inspiration. This will be your year — it took a long time to come — and it’s my great honor —  a highlight of my life — to induct the Zombies into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


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