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Zombies Hall in the
by Glenn Gamboa February 08, 2019
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No one is more surprised about The Zombies’ upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than the British Invasion band’s singer Colin Blunstone.

Before the announcement of the band’s selection in December, 30 years after it was first eligible, the voice behind classic hits Time of the Season and She’s Not There had already planned two American tours around the band’s shows on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas this month. Blunstone had set a solo tour before the cruise and a tour with The Zombies after it. Now, The Zombies also have to prepare to be inducted at the Barclays Center on March 29, along with The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead and Roxy Music.

“It was genuinely a surprise,” says Blunstone, calling from his home outside London. “In 67, when The Zombies broke up, we felt that we were unsuccessful, that there wasn’t any interest in the band. When (Zombies guitarist) Rod Argent and I started playing together in 98, we were playing mostly non-Zombies songs. We played only a handful of Zombies songs. And it was seven or eight years before we used the name The Zombies again, encouraged by audiences and promoters. It was just a big surprise that there was that interest in us.”

Blunstone says he isn’t sure why Rock Hall voters picked 2018 to honour the band, following three previous nominations. Some point to the 50th anniversary of the band’s 1968 album Odessey & Oracle, which made the Top 100 in Rolling Stone’s list of the best albums of all time and which Pitchfork called “decades ahead of its time” and “one of the late 60s’ greatest achievements.”

The Zombies are thrilled by how well that album, recorded just before they broke up, has stood the test of time. However, it was initially seen as a flop. “Rod said there were good reviews at the time, I think I saw one,” Blunstone says. “It got no airplay. CBS didn’t even want to release it. Everything was against it. Time of the Season only became a hit because one DJ in Boise started playing it and wouldn’t stop. Now, that song has a life of its own. It keeps being revived in films and commercials. And every time, it gives that album new life.”

As far as it getting The Zombies inducted into the Rock Hall, Blunstone says it is just as likely that the band’s regular touring and fan support landed them the right attention. “Not that many people are inducted the first time they are nominated,” he says. “The support gets stronger the more times you are nominated. Fans become more aware.”

And The Zombies certainly had their share of high-profile fans, including Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and the late Tom Petty. “I do wish he was there to induct us,” Blunstone says of Petty. “He was so vocal about his support for us. I wish we could share our happiness with him.”

Blunstone is excited about sharing his happiness with fans — both on his solo tour and with The Zombies. “I’ve never had any hits in the States as a solo artist, though I’ve had hits in other countries,” he says, jokingly adding, “In America, I tell the crowds, take my word for it, half of these songs have been hits. If they’re kind, they’ll believe me. I just throw myself at their mercy.”

Of course, The Zombies’ Time of the Season and She’s Not There are part of his solo sets, as are his collaboration with Dave Stewart on the cover of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted and his collaboration with Alan Parsons Project on Old and Wise.

However, Blunstone has also released several solo albums, including 2012’s On the Air Tonight, that feature songs that could have been hits, especially the ballad The Best Is Yet to Come. When asked if it bothered him that a song that good didn’t get a chance because of his age, Blunstone, 73, laughs, saying, “It’s not something I lose sleep over. It’s very easy to fall into the cracks. I write music because I love doing it,” he explains. “But it is a very bizarre situation. If you were a poet or a painter, you wouldn’t be penalised for your age. You’d be respected.”

Nevertheless, Blunstone says he continues to work on new music and may release both a new solo album and a new Zombies album this year. “You have to just be grateful and accept the success you get whenever you get it,” he says.

“And if people like a song of mine that they hear, even if they’re not really familiar with it, if they think it’s a strong song, that is success.”


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