The Zombies Are Still Looking Forward Even as a New Documentary Explores Their Past

The Zombie apocalypse should be on record as an early wave of the British Invasion. “‘She’s Not There’ was the first British self-written No. 1 song in Cashbox after The Beatles,” Argent mentions. The achievement was as pioneering as the sound. The classic lineup, which included guitarist Paul Atkinson, bassist Chris White, and drummer Hugh Grundy, “was quite different from other groups,” Blunstone says. “We were a keyboard-based band featuring three-part harmony, which wasn’t fashionable at the time. Most bands were all guitars.”

The musical configuration confused network television. “Cameramen couldn’t get their heads around a piano player at all,” Argent laughs. “When we came to the solo, the camera went straight to the drums. In their heads, if it wasn’t a guitar, they didn’t understand what was going on.”

The musicians, in turn, had to get used to soundstages, precariously playing on risers while effervescent dance troupes shook the world below. “Oh my god, the very first TV we did, they put Colin, singing ‘Summertime,’ on the top of a huge ladder,” says Argent. “He hates heights.” 

It could have been worse. “Initially, they choreographed a full dance for us,” Blunstone says. “As rehearsals went on, they changed their minds. We tried. We gave it our all and failed miserably.” 

But The Zombies passed the audition for their seat on the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, touring with other artists on the hit parade. “There were some wonderful singers on that Caravan,” Blunstone says. “They used to sing into the night. To be accepted, they wanted us to sing for them.” Blunstone and Argent chose the Beatles’ “If I Fell” because “we’d done it as an amateur band and knew if we sang it acapella, the harmonies would sound quite striking. Luckily, they enjoyed it.”

As the song “New York” from their 2015 album Still Got That Hunger celebrates, The Zombies also played the Brooklyn Fox Theater’s Murray the K Christmas Shows. “Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells brought the house down every time they performed, and we had to follow them,” remembers Blunstone.

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