The group to play at local venues in St Albans. Paul Arnold, left the group to become a doctor and was replaced by Chris White. The lads were all clever and university bound at the end of the summer of 1963. For fun they entered themselves into a local band contest (The Herts Beat Contest) with the first prize a recording deal with British Decca Records. Rod and Chris hoped winning the contest would keep them together. The Zombies won the contest and were given a contract before turning professional in 1964. Their first single was a Rod Argent composition “She's not there,” with Chris White’s “You Make Me Feel Good” as the B-side.
The single was a worldwide smash in 1964 and went to Number One in the US. Their follow up ‘Leave Me Be,’ (another White composition) was less successful and ‘Tell Her No’ fared better and was a minor hit in Britain, and a Top 10 record in America.
The Zombies had a unique sound for their era with Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals, choral backup harmonies, and Rod Argent's jazz and classical influenced organ and piano. The group toured the US with Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells and Chuck Jackson. The group was also hugely successful in Japan, The Philippines (where they once had five records in the Top 10). The Zombies records continued to do less well but She's Coming Home and I Want You Back were minor hits in the U.S. in 1965.
The group began to fall apart and despite the efforts of Rod and Chris to keep them together they eventually split, amicably. In 1968 long after the band had folded. “Time of the Season” was released from the Odessy album and ran as a sleeper eventually reaching the top 5 in the States.
Although there were offers to try to reform The Zombies, the former band members were actively involved in their own projects. Rod Argent and Chris White had formed Argent, and Colin Blunstone was pursuing a solo career.
The Zombies did reunited in 1991, without Rod Argent, for an album called New World.
Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent reunited for an album and toured together in 2001 and continued playing live shows together into 2004.
They recently began using The Zombies name again.
Worth a listen:
She's Not There (1964)
Tell Her No (1965)
Time of the Season (1969).