The Zombie Years
Born at Saint Albans (UK) on June 14, 1945, he was given the name Rodney Terence Argent. He was only a 16 year old student at England's St. Alban's School when he met guitarist Paul Atkinson, drummer Hugh Grudy and bass player, Paul Arnold. Not just proficient at piano and organ, Argent can play harmonica, violin and clarinet. After adding the almost insurance salesman and unique airy-voiced Colin Blunstone, they eventually replaced the future doctor, Arnold, with Chris White. Playing live around the area in 1963 for a year the Zombies almost broke up until opportunity in the form of the Herts Beat Contest in Butlins became the make-it or break-it crossroads. Working their way through the trials, they finally won the recording contract with Decca Records, and the now the professional group began recording in 1964.
It Is There
They wisely dropped releasing a cover of "Summertime" with the insistence of producer Ken Jones and instead chose Argent's frantic cry in song, "She's Not There." They were rewarded with a global hit, number one in the U.S., and they appeared on the same show, Jukebox Jury that included George Harrison on one show where he voiced his praise for the song.
Leave Me Be
The band, high on its accolades, fell a bit from pride with a number, "Leave Me Be," well received by live audiences but failed commercially. Fortunately, "Tell Her No" made the Top Ten in the States, and was a minor success in the U.K. Even though the band now went on a successful tour starting with an American circuit that included Patti LaBelle and Chuck Jackson in their own little "English Invasion;" and raved about in the Phillipines and Japan, Decca got scared and rushed the Zombies' sessions. The years following 1965, their releases of "She's Coming Home, I Want You Back," and "Whenever You're Ready" confidence was waning with the slipping wax, and Ken Jones was not helping the group leave their earlier style. He had listed in 1965 these musical mentors:
At that time he considered Modern Jazz
as his favorite hobby
, (Today Classical is his passion.)
Last Crossing At Abbey Road
Even though the group left Decca and got signed with CBS, the next project recorded at Abbey Road Studios, Odessey [sic] and Oracle in 1967 was agreed to be their last. Rod Argent dispelled the myth that the misspelling of Odyssey was some deep purposeful symbolic message as some said, but was the result of a cover art mistake too late to change. This album was almost shelved permanently due to the proposed disbanding, but Al Kooper put all his backing behind its release, which made a debut on July, 1968. Ironically the insistence of finding a single, after trying in vain with "Care of Cell 44" and another two after that, when "Time of the Season" got attention on one American station, until it exponentially grew to a Top Fiver near the end of that year into the next. Deaf to CBS' cries and bribes to deliver more, the Zombies broke up.
You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine
Chris White helped Rod form Nexus Records, and he and Chris carefully vetted their band, 'Argent'. They got thirteen year veteran Jim Rodford for bass, and rounded it out with ex Adam Faith Roulettes members, Robert Henrit and Russ Ballard. 'Argent' signed with CBS and in 1969 released their self titled album containing ten cuts reminiscent of the Zombies with keyboards and floating vocals. Unfortunately the only hit was "Liar", but only when done by the Three Dog Night reaching the Top Ten two years later. They got some more exposure on a rockumentary put on BBC by Bob Harris on the ninth of September of 1970.
Helping Hands Holding Heads High
The next year they released Ring of Hands with it's heavier presentation and musical excellence is worthy of critical acclaim. But, they got even heavier in 1972 with All Togther Now and "Hold Your Head Up" is their gold smash played still today frequently as a rock classic.
So Heavy...Goin' Down
The album out in 1973, In Deep provided the single "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" bulleting to the Top Twenty.
Nexus at the Plexus
After the band released Nexus in 1974, Russ Ballard purportedly diminished on the album compared to Argent's virtuosity left to launch his own career. Indeed, songs like "The Coming of Kahoutek", "Once Around the Sun," "Once Around the Sun," and "Infinite Wanderer," were vessels for extended examples of Argent's keyboard.
Encore and No to Yes
1974 saw the stores see Enocre on the shelves with Ballard replaced by John Verity and John Grimaldi finding huge shoes to fill. The group Yes invited Rod to join them, but instead he joined the Circus his next album released the following year with all the according hoopla. Perhaps its 'folding its tents' forced the group to follow suit, and Henrit and Rodford joined the Kinks, and Rod Argent was a solo flight again, and focused on the producing end as well.
By 1976 Rod was working in sessions with Roger Daltrey, and the Who, John Dankworkth, Jon Hiseman and Cleo Laine, but the next year he took Jon with him to work with Barbara Thomspon and John Mole on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Variations. (He continued collaborations through the years, especially Phantom of the Opera in 1985.)
Leaving Home for Moving Home
In 1978 Rod took keyboardist Robin Lumley, bassist Chester Thompson, Alphonso Johnson and Morris Pert drumming, guitarist John Godall, and another keyboard player, Peter Robinson on the road as 'The Rod Argent Group' to promote his solo album, Moving Home.
The Smell of Greasepaint
1980 saw the debut of Rod's first musical, Masquerade at London's Young Vic Theater. Through the 80's he worked on scores and in 1985 the rave Barbara Thompson Shadowshow, which inclued old friends Jon Hiseman and John Mole, as well as Clem Clempson. His TV work includes World Soccor Tournaments, Rescue. He assisted Peter Van Hooke and their mega seller, Tanita Tikaram's The Sweetkeeper and Ancient heart, as well as Joshua Kadison's Painted Desert Serenade. Credited with Nanci Griffith of Late Nite Grande Hotel and Soraya who did On Nights Like This.
Rod's latest interest is classical music, and the ivories are tickled with haut couture interpreting Chopin
, as well as three original works on his Classically Speaking.
Rod Argent Fan page