The Zombies - "Tell Her No" (1964)
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Uploaded on May 6, 2010
Hugh Grundy - drummer
The Zombies are an English rock band. Formed in 1959 in St Albans and led by Rod Argent on piano and Colin Blunstone on vocals, the band scored US hits in the mid- and late-1960s with "She's Not There", "Tell Her No", and "Time of the Season". Their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle, comprising twelve songs by the group's principal songwriters, Argent and Chris White, is now considered one of the best of its time and is ranked 80 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The group formed in 1959 in St Albans, England, and gained their initial reputation playing the Old Verulamians Rugby Club in that city. The group was formed while the members were at school. Some sources state that Argent, Atkinson and Grundy were at St Albans School, while Blunstone and White were students at St Albans Boys' Grammar School (since renamed Verulam School). James' father was the original drummer.
After winning a beat-group competition sponsored by the London Evening News, The Zombies signed to Decca and recorded their first hit, "She's Not There" (Argent's second song, written specifically for this session), which was released in mid-1964 and peaked at number 12 in the UK, where it was their only UK Top 40 hit. This minor-key, jazz-tinged number, distinguished by its musicianship and Blunstone's breathy vocal, was unlike anything heard in British rock at the time. It was first aired in the United States in early August 1964 on New York City rock station WINS by Stan Z. Burns, who debuted the song on his daily noontime "Hot Spot". The tune began to catch on in early fall and eventually climbed to #2.
Like many other British Invasion groups, The Zombies were sent to the United States to tour behind their new hit single. Among their most memorable early U.S. gigs were Murray the K's Christmas shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre, where the band played seven performances a day. Hugh Grundy later recalled also contributing to the sets by the Shangri-Las — not as a musician, but by revving a motorcycle brought backstage as a sound effect for their performance of "Leader of the Pack". In January 1965 the band was set to make their first in person appearance on U.S. television. The Zombies were to appear on the first episode of NBC's Hullabaloo. They played "She's Not There" to a screaming hysterical audience full of teenage girls.
After the follow-up single "Leave Me Be" stiffed in the UK (and not issued as an "A" single in the US), Rod Argent's "Tell Her No" became another big seller in the United States (in 1965), but failed to make the Top 40 in the band's native UK. Subsequent recordings such as "I Love You" (which became a hit for People! in 1968), "Indication", "Whenever You're Ready", and "Is This the Dream" failed to achieve the success of the previous two singles (although they had continued success in Scandinavia and the Philippines).
Their first UK LP, Begin Here (1965), was a collection of early singles, featuring half a dozen original songs combined with several R&B covers. In 1967, The Zombies signed to CBS Records, for whom they recorded the album Odessey and Oracle. (The word odyssey was misspelled by cover designers.) Because the band's budget could not cover session musicians, they used a Mellotron, a device designed to imitate orchestral sections.
By the time Odessey and Oracle was released in April 1968, the group had disbanded. The album sold poorly and was only given a U.S. release because musician Al Kooper, then signed to Columbia Records, convinced his label of the album's merits. An album track, "Time of the Season", written by Argent, was released as a single and eventually (1969) became a nationwide hit (Billboard #3).
The band's original lineup declined to regroup for concerts, so various concocted groups tried to capitalize on the success and falsely toured under the band's name. Another such group toured in 1988, going so far as to trademark the group's name (since the band had let the mark lapse) and recruit a member named Ronald Hugh Grundy, who was passed off as being an original member.
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