The Zombies had been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for nearly 30 years — and nominated four times. Yet the group showed no signs of bitterness when they finally walked up to the podium, after introductory remarks by Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs, to accept the honor. In fact, the surviving members looked absolutely ecstatic — as if they’d been waiting for this moment all of their lives. “We’re there forever,” Zombies keyboardist Rod Argent told Rolling Stone on Friday night. “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.”
Argent and Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone usually tour these days with new members when they aren’t staging special Odessey and Oracle concerts; but they were joined on this occasion by founding drummer Hugh Grundy and original bassist Chris White. (Guitarist Paul Atkinson died in 2004.) “To some degree, I think this validates everything we’ve done,” Blunstone told Rolling Stone late last year. “What a reward for all of the ups and downs over the years.”
They used their speeches to elaborate on that sentiment and thank everyone over the years that helped them reach this moment. Here’s what they had to say.
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Rod Argent: Susanna — thank you for the really really gorgeous words. To sit there and listen to that is really fantastic. But on behalf of all the guys in the band that we’re absolutely thrilled and delighted to have been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To be honest, it was an honor enough to have been nominated four times in the last five years. But to finally pass the winning post this time — fantastic!
And do you know — it’s a wonderful coincidence to all of us standing here in Brooklyn, the site of our very first concert in America, where we did a Brooklyn Fox Show, Christmas Day 1964, at 8 o’clock in the morning — playing with some of our heroes like Ben E. King, Drifters and Patti LaBelle, who became a real friend and mentor at that time. But it’s actually 50 years to this very day, the 29th of March, 1969, that “Time of the Season” reached Number One.
When I actually received the phone call, I couldn’t help my mind racing back to one magical day in 1956, that’s always remained vivid in my memory. When my cousin, four years older than me, played me two and a half minutes of music, which changed my life. That music was Elvis Presley, singing Hound Dog. That cousin was Jim Rodford, who many of you will remember as the great bass player who later co-founded Argent with me, and for 15 years the power house driving the Kinks’ rhythm section. Also, until his tragic accidental death a year ago, played fantastically energized bass with the version of the Zombies that Colin and I have loved touring with for the last 19 years.
Do you know? For those who didn’t live through the Fifties, it’s really hard to imagine the enormous cultural gulf which existed between England and America at that time. Elvis himself was a God and in some of the first footage that we saw in England, seemed to us like and alien super being from a distant universe. I was 11 years old and I couldn’t in any way imagine being part of the same world. But nevertheless, couldn’t wait to try to find some like minded people to start playing the music. And that chance came about in 1961. My God! How long ago was that? When five of us, from adjoining schools, excitedly got together to form a group: Paul Atkinson, Hugh Grundy, Colin Blunstone, Paul Arnold and myself, Rod Argent. Within a year, Paul Arnold had been replaced by Chris White and that was it. We were off.
These early years were something of a dream. By 1964, we got a recording contract Decca and then unbelievably by Christmas, found ourselves topping the U.S charts with our first record, “She’s Not There.” This magic land, which only eight years before had seemed so unimaginably remote and unconquerable and even more unbelievably, something we didn’t find out until many years later, Elvis actually had our records on his jukebox. I could not believe that!
In 1969, the Zombies had another massive Number One, “Time of the Season” — but we had already broken up due to the lack of initial success with our final album, Odessey and Oracle. An album that we put our heart and soul into. This album is very dear to our hearts and Chris and I had written all the songs on the record for the first time, produced our own material. It was to go onto have a huge story in its own right and at this point we have to say, thank you, to Allen Cooper, who believed in … Without his help, it may have never been released and we have to thank him massively because it spawned a story that still continues 50 years later. It’s been quite inspiring to us, how many people have championed us from that moment on. Iconic artists like the dear, late Tom Petty. Like Paul Weller, who’s been such a fantastic friend to us and to the album. Like Dave Grohl, like Susanna Hoffs. And also many young bands, right up until the present date, Cage the Elephant, The Lemon Twigs, Portugal the Man. And we owe so much to these people and have to thank them enormously. And I must, also shout out to the wonderful touring band who’ve accompanied Colin and me over the last 19 years. Steve Rodford, Jim Rodford, Tom Toomey, Soren Koch.
On a personal note, I want to say a huge thank you to my wife Cathy who’s been an unwavering and constant support to me over the last 52 years. And to my dear son and daughter, Mark and Elesa. And lastly, what a joy to have been managed perfectly for the first time in our lives over the last six years or so by Chris Tuthill and Cindy Da Silva and all the team at The Rocks Management — Fiona, Pam, Cory, our tour manager Marya, and our great publicists, Melani and Fiona.
Colin Blunstone: I’d just like to say what a great honor it is for us to be with you all here tonight. It really is. Our most sincere thanks to Susanna for a brilliant induction speech. With all those who have supported us through the years, especially thinking of Bruce Solar from APA, Rick Krim, Paul Shaffer and Steven Van Zandt. Sincere thanks also to all the members of the Rock Hall who voted for us, to our loyal and tenacious fans, who never wavered in their commitment to the band.
I would like to take a moment to remember two wonderful musicians who played with us. Paul Atkinson from the original band and Jim Rodford from the current line up. In the hope that they are smiling down on us at this magical time.
On a personal note I’d just like t mention my ever supportive family, my wife Susi and my daughter Rosy who have stood by me through thick and thin!
The Zombies first got together over 50 years ago and as with all bands have been through many ups and many downs but being here with you all tonight on this wonderful occasion is an absolute joy and of course makes it all so very worth while!
Chris White: Thank you everybody. I would like to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Zombie family and friends and America for this honor. And for the music. Music and songs are the bookmarks in all our lives. It’s the language that binds us all together. The Zombies have been creating friends for over 56 years and still are.
From the days when Ron and I shared a flat and wrote the songs for Odessey and Oracle, we keep on creating. Personally, I would like to thank our other old flat mate, Terry Quirk, who did the original artwork for Odessey and Oracle. Alec Palao and my own family, Matt, Jamie and Sacha, Claire and Kat and my creative partner and wife, Vivienne. Most of them are here tonight. Thank you, all of you. And young musicians, get out there and keep writing. Let’s have more music and songs in our lives. Thank you.
Hugh Grundy: Wow, I’m absolutely ectatic to be here saying a few thank you’s. When I was at school with Rod and Paul, I was a member of the school’s cadets marching band. I took up the drums after the bugle because the drums marched in front. I thought the girls would be more likely to look at me. How vain was I? Little did I know, that Rod spotted me and thought I had more sense of rhythm than anyone else, so one day, he asked me if I wanted to be in a band. My answer, was an immediate, ‘Yes.’ That ‘Yes,’ changed my life forever. So thank you Rod.
Little did I know, that this later time in my life, would be so incredible, ending up there in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it hasn’t finished yet. Thank you to my friends, I mean that, the Zombies and everyone else for the part of this unique family. Thank you to all our fans, young and old and of course everyone who voted us into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thanks to my lovely wife Tracy, for putting up with me and my drumming all these years. I give you Louise, Hayley, Helen and Caroline, the best daughters a dad could ever have. Three of them are here tonight, not quite sure where. Finally, thank you to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Thank you.