June 14: Keyboardist Rod Argent of The Zombies -"She's Not There," " Tell her No" - & Argent is 66 years-old today.

Rodney Terence Argent was born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. His early musical education consisted of a couple of years piano lessons and several years as a member of the St. Albans Cathedral Choir. He fell in love with rock 'n' roll In 1956 after hearing Elvis Presley sing "Hound Dog."

He soon went to his first live concert featuring his older cousin Jim Rodford - who went on to play bass with 'Argent', and now plays with The Kinks. Rod was starstruck, and vowed that one day he would have his own band. Three years later, at the age of 16, he formed The Zombies.

While at St Albans School, he met Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy, who was a drummer with a marching band. The three of them joined up with Colin Blunstone and Chris White to form The Zombies.

In addition to playing piano and keyboards, Argent, along with Chris White were the two main songwriters, penning the hits "She's Not There," "Tell Her No," and "Time of the Season," amongst others.

Argent was initially the group's lead singer, with Blunstone on guitar. Eventually the importance of his keyboard skills took precedent, and Blunstone - and his breathy quality- became the lead singer.

During this time, Rod immersed himself in learning about the rock 'n' roll and pop music. He also listened to jazz, the Miles Davis and Bill Evans groups in particular. He also studied classical music, focusing on Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel and Bartok.

Between 1961 and 1963, The Zombies quickly built a reputation as one of the best groups in and around St.Albans, and in a 1963 they secured a record deal with Decca after winning the 'Herts Beat' contest. Rod wrote 'She's Not There' especially for the first recording session, and the subsequent record was a hit all over the world, going to Number 1 in the U.S. Cash Box charts and No 3 in Billboard. "Tell Her No" also peaked high on the charts, and "Time Of The Season," also became a number 1 hit in the U.S.

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The Zombies - Greatest HitsGreatest: The Singles Collection

Classically Speaking

The Zombies were only together for three years, and although much acclaimed now, only had one hit in the UK - in spite of enjoying much more considerable success in the rest of the world. Their lack of success in their "home" country, contributed to their breaking up in 1967, although not before recording and producing a final album - Odessey and Oracle. (Odessey was spelled incorrectly by design.) The album has long been hailed as one of the best albums of the 1960's.

Post The Zombies, Rod formed Argent, which between 1970 and 1975 also gained worldwide success, both in live performance and with such records as 'Hold Your Head Up' (Top 5 in US and UK), "Liar" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You."

Rod continued to build his reputation as a top-notch keyboardist and after Argent broke up, he appeared as a keyboard player with a number of other musical acts including The Who, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Colin Blunstone, Gary Moore - even Andrew Lloyd Webber. During this time he deliberately worked on broading his base musically, while continuing to record and play his own music.

In 1977, he was commissioned to write music for the Royal Academy's Laser Exhibition 9Light Fantastic' and in 1981, he wrote the musical Masquerade, which was produced at The Young Vic in 1982 under the direction of Frank Dunlop.

In 1978, he recorded Moving Home, with Phil Collins on drums and Alphonso Johnson on bass. At the time of the album's release he held live concerts in London and St. Albans with Alfonso on bass, Chester Thompson on drums, Peter Robinson and Robin Lumley on second and third keyboards, a horn section featuring Gary Barnacle, John Goodsall on guitar and Morris Pert on percussion.

Since 1982, Rod has been involved in many areas of music. He has written many themes and scores for UK television - including two ITV soccer world cup themes (one a Top 50 record).

Between 1987 to 1997 he and Peter Van Hooke produced and performed on several highly successful albums for other artists; Tanita Tikaram's Ancient Heart and The Sweetkeeper and Joshua Kadison's Painted Desert Serenade have all acheived multi million sales, while Nanci Griffith's Late Nite Grande Hotel was her first album to make the UK Top 50.

In 1996, Rod worked on Colombian-born singer, the late  Soraya's debut album On Nights Like This. It sold approximately one million copies before she died.)  

The last two years have also seen Rod devote more time to his love of classical music. His album Rod Argent --- Classically Speaking includes three of his own compositions, and classical solo piano works by Chopin, Bach, Ravel, Elgar and Greig.

For the last few years, Argent and Colin Blunstone have toured together, and in 2004 they recorded a new Zombie-style album — As Far as I Can See. Afterwards, they released the album and DVD Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent of The Zombies Live At The Bloomsbury Theatre. In 2007, they toured the U.S.

In 2006, Argent joined Hamish Stuart, Richard Marx, Billy Squier, Edgar Winter, and Sheila E. touring with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their origin, The Zombies have released a new studio album (and single); Breathe Out, Breathe In.

Breathe Out Breathe in

On Oct 5th 2010, Rod received an award from BMI for "Time Of The Season," which has now passed the 6 million airplay mark in the U.S.