The Zombies win place in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

PUBLISHED: 14:29 14 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 14 December 2018

The Zombies with the late Jim Rodford on the left. The band, formed in St Albans in the 1960s, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Picture: Andrew Eccles

The Zombies with the late Jim Rodford on the left. The band, formed in St Albans in the 1960s, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Picture: Andrew Eccles

Andrew Eccles

Legendary Hertfordshire band The Zombies will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year. Alan Davies spoke with the group’s lead singer Colin Blunstone.

The She’s Not There group have finally won a place in the prestigious Hall of Fame.

Formed in St Albans in the early 1960s, The Zombies will be inducted in March as one of the class of 2019 alongside heavy rockers Def Leppard, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music, The Cure, and Janet Jackson.

The Zombies’ lead singer Colin Blunstone, who was born in Hatfield, said: “It’s incredible. I think we’ve been nominated for this for the fourth time, and you start to think that it is never really going happen.

“But I’m absolutely thrilled for everyone in The Zombies, in both incarnations of the band, because, of course, originally we were based in and around St Albans and all the guys were local.”

The induction ceremony will take place on March 29, 2019 – 50 years to the day that The Zombies’ single Time of The Season went to number one in the Cash Box chart in America.

The Zombies will play a concert in St Albans in memory of Jim Rodford.The Zombies will play a concert in St Albans in memory of Jim Rodford.

“It’s a coincidence, but I’d like to say I planned it that way,” said Colin.

“It’s quite emotional the whole thing. It wakens memories and you just remember all the times of being an amateur band, when we first got amplifiers and would travel on the top deck of a double decker bus to get to gigs.”

The original Zombies line-up, including Rod Argent on keyboards, were recording and playing in and around St Albans from 1961, with their first proper gig held in Lemsford.

Born and bred in Hatfield, singer Colin Blunstone added: “We first met in 1961, and we made records from 1964 to ’67.

“The whole of that time I was living with my parents in Hatfield.”

Before their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, The Zombies will play a sold-out tribute gig in St Albans in memory of their late band member Jim Rodford.

Former Kinks bassist Jim died aged 76 earlier this year after a fall at his home in St Albans.

“It’s a huge shame that he’s not here to share this with us,” said Colin, 73.

Reflecting on the band’s formation and Jim Rodford’s involvement, Colin added: “He was there at our very first rehearsal.

“He was in THE big band in St Albans at the time, the Bluetones.

The Zombies' lead singer Colin Blunstone is honoured that the band will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Picture: Keith Curtis.The Zombies' lead singer Colin Blunstone is honoured that the band will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Picture: Keith Curtis.

“As Jim is Rod Argent’s cousin, he helped set up our very first rehearsal at The Pioneer Club in St Albans.

“We borrowed all of the Bluetones’ equipment, their amplifiers and their drums, and it made the first rehearsal a most enjoyable experience.

“But, of course, in our second rehearsal we weren’t able to borrow any of that equipment and we came down to earth with a bump.

“We really had nothing. We had one homemade amplifier, a homemade speaker and no drums.

“I always remember Hugh Grundy, our drummer, had two drumsticks and he played on the cabinet of a homemade speaker.”

The Zombies on stage. Picture: Maggie Clarke.The Zombies on stage. Picture: Maggie Clarke.

Colin continued: “It took us a year of rehearsals and saving very hard to manage to get a couple of amplifiers and a drum kit.

“And, after a year of rehearsals and saving, we played our first gig ever and it was in a youth club in Lemsford.

“I can remember it vividly.

“Then, gradually, from ’61 to ’64 we built up a local fan base.”

The group ended up playing at Watford town hall, where they won a rock competition.

The Zombies with the late Jim Rodford on the left. The band will be playing a tribute concert in the bassist's memory at The Alban Arena in St Albans on January 20, 2019. Picture: Andrew Eccles.The Zombies with the late Jim Rodford on the left. The band will be playing a tribute concert in the bassist's memory at The Alban Arena in St Albans on January 20, 2019. Picture: Andrew Eccles.

That led to The Zombies signing a recording deal with Decca.

“We recorded She’s Not There in that first recording session,” said Colin.

“And that was the beginning of The Zombies as professional musicians.”

Looking back to those early days of the band, Colin said: “I also remember Hugh Grundy got a scooter.

“I used to go on the back of that scooter with all his drums and my guitar!”

He added: “This induction into the Rock Hall brings all those memories back vividly.”

The current Zombies’ line-up includes founder members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone alongside Jim Rodford’s son Steve Rodford on drums, Tom Toomey on guitar, and new member Søren Koch on bass.

The Zombies’ tribute concert to Jim Rodford will take place at The Alban Arena on Sunday, January 20, with support from ARC, featuring Anja, Russ and Cara Rodford.

“It is going to be an emotional night,” said Colin. “And it is going to be a celebration of Jim Rodford’s life.

“Jim had so many friends and, as a professional musician, had so many admirers as a wonderful musician.”

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