05. THE ZOMBIES FAMILY
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Congratulations to The Zombies who have been officially recognised by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and will be inducted in March 2019.
As part of the ‘British Invasion’ in the USA in the 1960’s their writing and their songs have influenced many bands and singer/songwriters along with countless fans. As a current and touring band, they continue to amass fans and fill venues all over the USA and Europe.
Great musicians all!
Congratulations also to the amazing Rocks Management and road management teams, and of course, their brilliant fans for helping them to get there. It’s all exciting stuff!
The Zombies have some fairly unique qualities - the most important of which is the fact that the original line-up still get on well with each other 56 years on! That’s quite a rarity! Both the original and current line-ups seem to have nurtured a creative ‘big family’ community around them. I include family and friends of the late Paul Atkinson (original guitarist) and the more recently late, and great, Jim Rodford.
As many of you know, I am married to and work alongside Chris White but I feel privileged to be involved in so many ways with the band - the guys themselves of course, the music, the singing, the pictures, the art, the massive travel, the humour, the road crew, the fans, the venues, the performances - the list goes on. It is a whole world in itself.
There are many connections and coincidences between the people that surround the band. The Zombies’ open, intuitive and inclusive attitude to music and to art, has led to a lot of creative and surprising opportunities and collaborations.
As in a previous blog, the best way to start explaining it is in a list, so here are just ten experiences:
01. 2017: I now have my multimedia pictures published in a coffee table book “The Odessey”. AND they have been animated to make ‘visual songs’. Thank you to everyone who made all of THAT possible! See blogs 1, 2, & 3.
02. In 2015 Hugh Grundy, the original Zombies drummer, was playing with another band in Spain - The Geckos. After seeing the animations for The Zombies in 2017, he and his band mates asked if I could make some pictures for them to be included in a music video for one of their songs - ‘Rockstar’. Part of this process included working with Hugh’s photographer daughter, Hayley (who also has great photos in The Odessey book). There is an amazing story here where Hayley found out she was living just down the road from Paul Atkinson’s son, Matt! That’s a story for another time! See https://www.payleyphotography.co.uk
‘Ziggy’ (in progress) for “Rockstar” by The Geckos
03. Many years ago, Beki Brindle (Zombies fan and great Blues guitarist) did a cover of one of Chris’ songs ‘You Make Me Feel Good’. They remained in touch online, then we all met in London in 2009 at a Hammersmith Apollo Zombies gig. The day after, she joined us for lunch with Chris’ family and old friends including singer/songwriter Francie Conway. It turned out Beki and Francie had worked with each other in Ireland in the 1980’s.
Also, her son lives in the same Danish town in which current Zombies bass player, Soren Koch, was born!
I have enjoyed doing backing vocal arrangement/sessions for some of her material since then. See www.bekibrindleband.com
04. 2018 in Berlin: Tom Toomey (guitarist, current Zombies line-up) asked me to come up with some extra backing vocals for a song he had been engineering/producing with singer/songwriter Laz Clements. You can hear the result of this collaboration in the song ‘Cold Coffee Morning’. See tomtoomey.com / Giant Records.
05. Jim Rodford who is greatly missed, was Rod Argent’s cousin. Jim’s family continues to grow musically. Of course, his son Steve has been drumming with The Zombies for many years. Steve’s daughters and his brother make up the band ARC, who opened for The Zombies at many gigs during this year’s tours. Others of the ‘next generation’ are involved with music including 2 of Chris’ sons Jamie and Matt White and Paul Atkinson’s daughter, Lucy.
06. 2017: I have been doing some work alongside the brilliant Terry Quirk who did the album artwork for ‘Odessey and Oracle’. See http://www.terryquirk.com
Chris had an idea about a work of mine - a ‘cut-out portrait’ of the original line-up - to become a public work for the city of St. Albans where the whole band was based in the 60’s. Cindy da Silva came up with the great idea of combining the piece with a large mosaic of Terry’s original ‘Odessey & Oracle’ image to make a joint celebratory work of art for visitors and fans.
Who knows what may happen there? Public Art is a slow business!
07. 2018: Another opportunity to work with Terry was on the ‘Moody Blues Cruise’ where we both got to show and even sell original work and prints.
The Moody Blues Cruise, January 2018
08. Since 2017 Chris White and Terry Quirk have been working on a musical about The Zombies - I had a chance to co-write some songs and new pieces of music for this with them both. There are people they want to include in the production of the show that were linked to The Zombies from their earliest days. I can’t talk about those ideas yet, but it underlines the circular patterns of the connections The Zombies make.
09. 2008: Al Kooper came to the UK to introduce the 40th Anniversary ‘Odessey & Oracle gigs’ as he was responsible for The Zombies getting noticed by CBS (USA) in the 1960’s. Chris White gave him a lift into London from the airport and mentioned that I was busy as a member of The London Bulgarian Choir.
Who would have guessed that Al was such a massive fan of Bulgarian music? But he is! I was lucky enough to chat about that with him for a long while. See http://londonbulgarianchoir.com
10. This Autumn, The Zombies toured with Uriah Heep. After the Zombies split (1967),
Rod Argent (keys and vocals) and Chris White (co-producer and co-writer) formed the band Argent (1969). Uriah Heep did a cover version of their biggest hit ‘Hold your Head Up’.
The list goes on, and there are more random connections including Dale Hanson doing sound engineering for Jamie White solo project (JJ White) in a tiny London club years before his now ‘6th member’ status with The Zombies. See ettubruce.com
Laurence Davies (road crew extraordinaire) comes from the same Welsh town as my mum!! He has tried to teach me how to pronounce my Welsh middle name (Mair) correctly!
Small worlds! Small details! Magic moments!
Have a wonderful 2019 everybody!