Tributes to Kinks, Argent and The Zombies star from St Albans

PUBLISHED: 19:32 20 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:19 22 January 2018

Jim Rodford with his honorary degree from the University of Hertfordshire. Picture: Pete Stevens.

Jim Rodford with his honorary degree from the University of Hertfordshire. Picture: Pete Stevens.

2017 Pete Stevens

Tributes have been paid to a respected St Albans musician who played bass guitar for The Zombies and The Kinks.

Jim Rodford, who received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire at St Albans Cathedral last year for services to music, died on Saturday morning after a fall. He was 76.

During a lengthy music career spanning six decades, the St Albans-born bassist played with legendary British group The Kinks, The Zombies and Argent.

He also performed locally in his home city with The Rodford Files, who often played at The Farmer’s Boy in London Road.

Fellow St Albans musicians Enter Shikari were among the bands to pay tribute to Jim.

Jim Rodford with The Bluetones at The Pioneer in 1961Jim Rodford with The Bluetones at The Pioneer in 1961

Currently on tour in America, Enter Shikari tweeted a picture of themselves with the Zombies bassist outside Verulam School.

The band tweeted: “Very sad to hear about fellow St Albans lad Jim Rodford (Argent, The Kinks, The Zombies) a truly lovely and talented man. Rest in peace Jim”

Jim improvised his first bass with a plywood tea chest, a piece of string and a broom handle.

It was while he was at the St Albans County Grammar School for Boys, now known as Verulam School, that he played his bass guitar tea chest with The Bluetones.

The Zombies' Jim Rodford, centre, with Enter Shikari members, from left, Rory Clewlow, Rob Rolfe, Rou Reynolds and Chris Batten on a visit to Verulam School in St AlbansThe Zombies' Jim Rodford, centre, with Enter Shikari members, from left, Rory Clewlow, Rob Rolfe, Rou Reynolds and Chris Batten on a visit to Verulam School in St Albans

They began as a purely acoustic group playing American-style folk and blues, and evolved into a rock and roll band as they acquired electric guitars and a microphone system.

In 1964, Jim turned professional, and toured extensively throughout the UK and Europe with The Mike Cotton Sound, both for their own shows and backing artists such as Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney, Elkie Brooks and P J Proby, as well as supporting The Beatles.

Jim and his cousin Rod Argent, of The Zombies fame, then formed the band Argent, and for six years they enjoyed hits both in the UK and in the USA, including the single Hold Your Head Up.

Zombies co-founder Rod Argent posted an emotional tribute to his “wonderful” cousin on the She’s Not There and Time of the Season band’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

He posted: “It is with deep sadness that I learned this morning that my dear cousin and lifelong friend, Jim Rodford, died this morning after a fall on the stairs.

“More details are not yet known about the exact cause of death.

“Jim was not only a magnificent bass player, but also from the first inextricably bound to the story of The Zombies.

“An enormous enabled for us. He was actually the first person ever to be asked to join the band, way back in 1961.

“Because he was in the top St Albans band of the time (The Bluetones), he turned us down at first, but from day one helped us chart our course.

“He loaned us The Bluetones’ state of the art gear for our first rehearsal, arranged the rehearsal space, and even showed Hugh [Grundy] the first kick and snare pattern our original drummer ever learned.

“He was responsible for the first song I ever wrote (for The Bluetones – which they recorded); the person who organised most of our early gigs, and the very first person outside the group ever to hear – and pass judgement on – out first record, “She’s Not There” (he loved it).

“Years later, he became founder member, with me, of Argent; and then, for 18 years, throughout a hugely successful American period for them, was bass player for The Kinks.”

Rod continued: “Jim, always a hugely sought-after musician, also had long stints as bass player with both The Mike Cotton Sound and the Lonnie Donegan band.

“When Colin [Blunstone] and I put together our second incarnation [of The Zombies] in late 1999, our first phone call was to Jim.

“He gave us absolutely unflagging commitment, loyalty and unbelievable energy for 18 years, and our gratitude is beyond measure.

“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.

“Often, Colin and I would compare notes a couple of days immediately after a US tour and discuss how long it would take us to recover from an intense, fantastic but exhausting couple of months – only to find out and marvel that Jim had already been out playing with local bands (often, but not always, with ‘The Rodford Files’, made up of talented family members) or giving charity shows or lectures on the St Albans music scene.

“His dedication was rewarded with Doctorate of Music, granted to him last year by the University of Hertfordshire.”

Rod added: “Jim was a wonderful person, loved by everybody. When Colin 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.”

Tom Toomey, The Zombies’ lead guitarist, tweeted: “What to say about losing your band mate, mentor and dear friend? #JimRodford encouraged me right up to his passing, like an older brother always w/ a kind word. My heart goes out to all his family especially Jean, his dear wife. His spirit shall live on in all our hearts forever.”

Jim Rodford was also a member of The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, playing on 1982 hit single Come Dancing.

The Kinks tweeted: “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 #JimRodford”

Kinks founder member and guitarist Dave Davies tweeted: “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 theKinks later years RIP #JimRodford”

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