Colin Blunstone, singer-songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Rod Argent, how he became Neil MacArthur, The Zombies latest album, and his forthcoming solo tour.

Colin Blunstone is an English singer-songwriter, best known for being a member of the rock band The Zombies, for his participation on various albums with The Alan Parsons Project, and for his solo work.

Blunstone’s voice was considered to be one of the main factors in making The Zombies’ single, She’s Not There, a big hit worldwide.  In 1968 the band split over management issues, shortly after completing the baroque pop classic album, Odessey And Oracle.  He then briefly worked as a clerk in the insurance business before resuming his musical career.  In 1969, he signed with Deram Records and cut three singles under the pseudonym Neil MacArthur, including a re-make of She’s Not There, which charted in the UK.

During a successful solo career, his highest chart success was with Say You Don’t Mind, but other hits included I Don’t Believe In Miracles and Tracks Of My Tears.  He also went on to appear on several albums by The Alan Parsons Project.  Still touring with The Zombies, and his old friend Rod Argent, he does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Whilst busy preparing for his forthcoming solo tour, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Colin good morning how are you?

I’m fine Kevin thank you, I’m absolutely fine.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

That’s ok it’s my pleasure.

So just how is life treating Colin Blunstone?

I have to say Kevin that it is amazingly good.  It is very exciting and a huge surprise to be honest.  I was literally just speaking to Jim (Rodford) from The Zombies earlier today and we were both saying what a thrill it is to still be on the road at this time in our lives and it is totally unexpected.  It is not what I was expecting at all so I truly do have to say that life is treating me good.  It is a really exciting time as I have completed a short tour of Europe with my solo band last year, I have recently returned from the States with The Zombies and now I am playing some dates in the UK with my solo band.  So life is rich and fulfilling at the moment; it truly is wonderful.

The Zombies and you are obviously busier now than ever before.  Just what would you put that down to?

I can only think that to a large extent it is all down to word of mouth.  We started playing together again back in 1999 and we were playing really small places just for the fun of it really.  Having said that, we are still playing for fun (laughter).  It just all gradually built from there really.  It was all very natural and wasn’t contrived in any way.  It was a very natural organic growth that occurred over a period of years.  In some ways for me this has been the most exciting part of my career.  To see The Zombies grow in the way that it has from nothing, without a hit record; it is just people coming out to see us play and then coming back with their friends the next time and so on until it grows.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen both of you; you on a solo tour at Butlins and then The Zombies here in Nottingham and I have to say that both shows were fantastic.

Thank you that is lovely of you to say, however, unfortunately at Butlins we had a couple of little technical issues which is always the case at festivals as you never get to do a sound check.  You just walk on and hope for the best (laughter).  For the first few songs my in-ear monitors weren’t working.  It was no one’s fault; they replaced them as soon as they could and we were off (laughter).  It was great fun and we actually played three dates that weekend and then we went over to Holland and Belgium.  At the moment it is all really good fun.

You mentioned festivals and I see that you will be playing the Cornbury Festival this summer.  I will give you a wave from the pit as I will be there covering it.

Yes we are and I am so looking forward to playing at Cornbury.  I have heard so many good things about it and so that is going to be fun.  We haven’t played there before so it will be nice to actually see what it is all about.

Do you enjoy playing the festivals here in the UK?

To be honest with you yes, I really do.  I personally think that festivals have got a lot more organised, maybe even more sophisticated than they used to be.  I really do think that you can have a really good time at a festival if you want in a kind of low-key way.  If you love music and you just want to have a nice relaxing time watching the bands that you like, then that is now really possible at festivals.  However, I feel that a few years ago festivals used to be a little on the frantic side and you simply couldn’t just be a relaxed music lover (laughter).  But now I have noticed a real difference.

You played Glastonbury last year, how was that for you?

Yes we did, and I have to say that it was a wonderful experience, very relaxed.  A few years ago we played the Isle of Wight Festival and that sticks in my mind because of the very relaxed family atmosphere; it was great.  However, I must stress that you really do need to have the weather on your side at Festivals here in the UK (laughter).  We have always been pretty lucky with the weather, especially with all of the festivals that we have played over in the USA, together with the ones here in the UK.  A long time ago all of the festivals were, at best, primitive however, I now feel that it has all moved on a long way since then (laughter).

I have been listening to The Zombies latest album Still Got That Hunger and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work.

Fantastic, oh that’s brilliant, I am really, really pleased.  That’s great Kevin.  I think that there are some really good songs on the album and when The Zombies play live we will often play five songs off that album.  What is really interesting, and it’s also a real thrill as well, is that the new songs go down just as well as the established hits such as She’s Not There or Time Of The Season.  These new songs go down really well, just as well as all of the hits which is really encouraging.

Is it still an enjoyable experience writing songs for a new album?

Absolutely.  We all really do enjoy writing and recording new material which I feel is really important for us that we are actually still doing it.  In the context of being able to write new material we are more than happy and thrilled to play the hits as a backbone of our joint catalogues over the years, but it just gives it that edge if we are able to play new material too.

Now please don’t take this next comment as anything other than a compliment when I say that the new album instantly feels like an old friend and it already feels as though you know the new tracks. 

I think that is great Kevin, thank you.  Whenever you write and record new material I think that it is great if it sounds as though you have heard it before.  I actually think that can be very complimentary.  Rod (Argent) has written most of these songs but what I find interesting is that a lot of what Rod writes sounds far more simple musically than it is.  A lot of Rods songs musically are quite sophisticated but they sound easy and then when someone tries to play them they think whoa what’s this (laughter).  But that is a real art; a songwriter’s art to be able to make it sound good.

I always feel sorry for guitarists in The Zombies really because Rod writes on the piano and some of his chord runs are quite challenging for a guitarist, they really are.  However I think that they sound great so it is all worthwhile.

Are you all collectively pleased with the album?

We are all absolutely thrilled with it.  It was great working with producer Chris Potter who has recently worked with The Rolling Stones, The Verve and Richard Ashcroft.  He is a real craftsman and he made it very easy for us.  Chris is just a consummate professional.  It was great fun recording the album with half of it being recorded live and the only thing which was overdubbed was the backing vocals.

Didn’t you take a step back and record this album as you used to record albums back in the day?

(Laughter) yes we did Kevin.  We deliberately went back to the way that we used to record where we would have intensive rehearsals before we went into the studio.  It always seemed such a logical thing for us to do but over the years when the major labels were paying for all of the recording, people used to expand and experiment with their songs in the studio during studio time.  However we are all now back in the real world, and we are paying the studio bills ourselves.  Also it takes a bit of the pressure off when you work out the arrangements and how the song is going to be recorded in the rehearsal room which then means that you are much more relaxed when you go into the recording studio.

I know exactly what everyone is going to do and I also know exactly what is expected of me.  The first time that I sang and recorded these songs they were meant to be guide vocals to help all of the guys with the tracks.  However when we listened to them back Rod asked me what else I would do and I simply said nothing (laughter).  So we actually kept the guide vocals which were eventually used as the vocals on the new album.  It was a really good experience and we were all in the studio recording at the same time.  It was great fun and just as I remember it when I first came into the business.

Would you agree with me that whenever you and Rod (Argent) get together something magical happens?

Yes I would actually, there is definitely something a bit special that happens whenever Rod and I perform together.  Over the years Rod and I have played quite a few acoustic duo concerts which is not something that we set out to do.  About ten years ago now we were over in Holland where we were playing a festival in the evening with The Zombies.  Rod and I were taken to the cathedral in this town where the tour manager casually told us that we were doing a two man acoustic set that afternoon (laughter).  So we just got out there and did it.

The other thing is that Rod will always say that he learnt to write songs when he was writing for my voice.  Whenever he is writing now subconsciously he can hear my voice and that does affect the way in which he writes.  Also the opposite is true in that I learnt to sing professionally when I was singing Rod’s songs.  Whenever Rod and I combine on one of his songs we really explore the phrasing of each phrase and each line of the song.  I don’t just sit down and sing it, we go through it in detail which then permeates all performances that I do because I am learning from these experiments in phrasing which I can take into other songs as well.  I have to say that I think that Rod and I have influenced each other quite a lot over our careers.

Is it still as much fun recording and touring with Rod as it was back in the day?

I don’t think that either of us have changed that much to be honest.  We are probably a little bit quieter than we were when we were younger and perhaps we are a bit more in control.  For me the big change, which I say in a light hearted way, between now and when we were younger is that when the concert ends it ends.  Whereas back in the 60’s and 70’s that was when the evening began (laughter).  Now there is a stampeded to get back to the hotel and get to bed because we have to get up early the next morning and people sometimes forget that (laughter).

People forget that once we have finished one concert we probably have to drive five hundred miles to the next venue and do it all over again and the same the next night.  And certainly as a singer I have learnt that I have to look after my voice.  And so when the show ends I try to be as in control and as quiet as I can be especially with the songs that we sing.  They are all in the original keys so I am singing in a very high male pitch, in high keys, so I simply have to protect my voice otherwise that top end is the first thing that goes.

The Zombies were formed fifty-five years ago.  Could you ever have envisaged that you would still be performing and still be as popular today as you were back then?

Absolutely not (laughter).  I’m not sure that I really had a strong idea as to what was happening back in 1964.  I think that subconsciously I thought that bands had a life span of between two to three years.  And so whilst I thought that it was a wonderful musical adventure with my mates, playing the songs that I loved, I thought subconsciously that it would last around three years.  I’m not sure that there was a career path in rock and roll before the 1960’s.  That was just what happened; people had short careers.  However the rules were changing and there now is a career path and you can have a lifetime career in rock and roll.

But I don’t think that people realised that back then, I certainly didn’t.  I wish that I had because then, maybe I would have made a few different decisions.  I just wish that I had been more aware of exactly what was going on.  We were eighteen and nineteen years old so it was time for us to have fun really and that’s just what we did.

On the subject of having fun, what was it like being part of the British Invasion of America?

Well it was incredible although at the time I wasn’t aware that we were part of an overall artistic British movement.  I wasn’t aware of that at the time; it all seemed very natural.  The Beatles had changed everything.  With The Beatles success the doors to the world opened for British bands.  What you have to remember is that there wasn’t that much of a demand for British bands before The Beatles but they changed all of that.  For us, The Zombies, we were about a year after The Beatles, so it seemed quite natural that we were suddenly flying all over the world and performing.  It was all very exciting but I don’t think that I fully understood the full scope of what was going on.

I recently asked Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits fame the same question and he said that he simply couldn’t believe the amount of young females who would follow the band everywhere they went and chase them down the streets (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) well what can I say to that Kevin (laughter).  It was very interesting and we certainly learnt a lot about life.  It was a phenomenon.  We played a huge concert over in Montreal, Canada, with Herman’s Hermits and I think that people here in the UK simply don’t realise just how big Herman’s Hermits were.  They were incredibly successful and it is one of the only times that I felt a little nervous backstage.  When they went on to play in front of ten thousand people in The Forum, they all got up and they all rushed forward.  It was one of the only times that I have ever been concerned about peoples safety simply because the British Invasion was a phenomenon and Herman’s Hermits were one of the biggest bands in that British Invasion.

You will correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Rod write She’s Not There in a matter of minutes?

He certainly wrote it quite quickly.  I’m not sure if it was a few minutes but I remember our producer Ken Jones talking about our first recording session at Decca Records which was coming up in a couple of weeks’ time.  In the middle of this conversation Ken said that we could always write something for that first session if we wanted to (laughter) and then he went on to discuss other things.  What he had said didn’t make that much of an impression on me until a day later when Rod came back and he played She’s Not There to me and I think that we both knew straight away that it was a very special song.

I have to say that I was amazed.  Firstly because I didn’t know that Rod could write songs, I have since found out that She’s Not There was the third song that Rod had ever written but he had never played me the other two songs so I had never realised that he could write a song.  So in answer to your question Kevin I have to say that he certainly wrote it very quickly.

In 1977 the legendary Santana covered the song.  How did you all feel about that?

I have to say that everyone thought that it was wonderful.  I know that Rod always names it as one of his favourite cover versions of the songs that he has written.  I personally think that it is great, and I am a massive fan of Santana.  I think that it is always incredibly flattering when a band such as Santana covers a song as they did in this case; a song which Rod wrote and I sang.  I think that it is really rewarding when something like that happens.  I find it strange that some artists don’t like having their songs covered but I think that it is fantastic.

I have to ask you after all of these years being out on the road, does touring still excite you?

Oh yes Kevin and I think that if it didn’t then I simply wouldn’t do it.  I still find it really exciting, especially the feeling that you get when a show is finished and it has gone well, there is nothing like it.  To be honest the feeling that you get just before you are about to go out onto the stage is pretty electric too.  No matter how many times that you may have done it, you still get that buzz before you go on stage (laughter).  While you are on stage you are with your best mates performing the music that you love; it is simply a wonderful experience.  And afterwards especially if it has gone really well you have got that wonderful feeling of fulfilment.

It doesn’t last that long because you are thinking ‘where am I tomorrow and what is happening’ (laughter).  But I have to say that feeling at the end of a successfully completed concert is simply a wonderful feeling.  You feel like you are flying; your adrenalin is pumping through your veins so fast that it is just a great feeling.

It’s good to see both you and Rod back out on the road because there was a period of time when neither of you toured.

Rod and I are doing a lot of dates at the moment, but yes you are right when you say that there was a period of time when neither Rod nor I did any concerts.  There was a twenty year gap from the mid 70’s when Rod came off the road with Argent and I came off the road in around 1974 from the first part of my solo career.  What made things difficult for us with regard to touring was that Rod at that time got heavily into production and I was singing for other people whilst recording jingles and commercials.  And so we just drifted away from the idea of performing live.  And then rather by chance we got together again in 1999 and so in a way I feel that we are making up for lost time.

Rod and I really do tour a lot and I am just wondering if over the years we might slow down and even taper off over the years and perhaps just do a few concerts.  Then I always think that whilst I am physically able then I really would like to keep playing live.  The problem that I have is that singing is quite a physical exercise and you have got to be fairly fit and fairly strong to be able to sing professionally.

In 2014 you released the Colin Blunstone Collected three CD box set.  Were you happy with how well it was received?

Yes I have to say that I was quite pleased although primarily it was a Dutch/European release.  It actually got into the top twenty in Holland which after being in this business for fifty-something years that was the biggest chart record that I have ever had (hysterical laughter).  I was really pleased and a lot of work went into it and between the three of us who were working on it, we managed to track down some quite obscure recordings and we also manged to get the legal side sorted out in order to be able to put them on there.

It was really interesting, finding these recordings and together with finding out who actually owned them.  Then approaching these people and asking if they would allow us to include them on the record and the great thing was that no one said no.  Everyone cooperated incredibly well on the project.

Were there any that simply didn’t make the cut?

I think that we all felt that was a fairly comprehensive accounting of my career.  To a large extent I left that side of it to Universal Records.  I got involved with the project when Universal had heard an obscure track which they didn’t know how to get it or perhaps they hadn’t even heard it.  That was my involvement.  We used a few tracks from the period when I was signed to Rocket Records during the mid to late 70’s and those tracks had never before been released on CD.  Funnily enough, since Collected two of them have now been released on CD but at that point neither had ever been released.

So as you can imagine there was quite a lot that had to be sorted out in order for us to get all of those tracks.  That was the part which I really enjoyed.  It was totally a different thing for me; it is nothing to do with being either a singer or a writer.  There was a hell of a lot of time spent on the phone contacting people.

I appreciate that you have been extremely busy both recording and touring with The Zombies but will we be seeing a new Colin Blunstone studio album anytime soon?

I really do hope so Kevin.  At this moment in time I am collecting songs for that project together with writing songs.  But I always think that when you are recording a new album you always start with a blank canvas, and you simply never know where that is going to go to, you really don’t.  As well as touring with The Zombies and touring with my solo band, making a new solo studio album is definitely the next project for me.

Being an old soulie at heart I really did love your version of What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted so I have my fingers crossed that one day you will record an album of Motown covers.

It’s an interesting thought isn’t it?  I was actually out driving earlier on this morning and I was going through Motown classic tunes in my mind.  Have you got any ideas for me?  The trouble is that I have gone through the Motown catalogue so many times together with so many other people as well, and to be honest there is not a lot there that hasn’t already been done.  I think that it is fine to do songs that have been covered before providing that you find a new way to do them; giving them a fresh approach.  Have you got any ideas or perhaps your favourites?

I’m a fan of Jr Walker’s work so how would you fancy covering any of his tracks?

Going by memory, did he record lots of songs Kevin?

Most people will predominately remember Jr Walker because of his great saxophone playing but he recorded some really lovely songs; How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Take Me Girl I’m Ready, Walk In The Night, Way Back Home and What Does It take (To Win Your Love) to name but a few. 

Oh okay, thanks for that and I will check those tracks out as soon as we have finished the interview.  I am like most of the people out there and I always think of Jr Walker as being an instrumental outfit.  I love a lot of the early Four Tops tracks which they recorded on Motown.  They could be another group for me to take a look at.  To be honest with you I don’t think that I could ever cover anything that Stevie Wonder had recorded; he is so absolutely amazingly good.  You would have to have a lot of courage to cover something that Stevie had done (laughter).

Smokey Robinson wrote so many good songs and one that I was thinking about this morning was The Way You Do The Things You Do; what a great song.  The only trouble is that Smokey’s work has been covered by a hell of a lot of people simply because they are truly great songs.  Also there are so many great songs that were written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.  I honestly don’t think that I would know where to start (laughter).  I sing a song in my solo show that was written by Billy Bragg and it is called Levi Stubb’s Tears and it is such a great song.  During the middle 8 there is a section where it goes through all of the songwriters who worked at Motown and all of those names come up.  They were all wonderful writers, fantastic.

Taking you back to 1969 there was a certain Neil MacArthur ‎who covered She’s Not There, which in reality was Colin Blunstone covering Colin Blunstone.  How strange was that?

Looking back it was extremely strange (laughter).  In the cold light of day all of these years later it is rather difficult to explain exactly how that came about.  The Zombies finished in 1967 and I really had no idea just what to do next.  Because of the way that The Zombies were set up with the non-writers in the band, which would have been Paul Atkinson, Hugh Grundy and myself, well after three years on the road and all those hits, we were in really poor shape financially.  And to be absolutely honest Kevin we all had to get a job.  We had to, we simply had no choice in that.  I telephoned the Employment Agency asking them if they had any jobs or if there were any openings and so I worked for a year in an office.

However, towards the end of that year Time Of The Season had been taken off the last Zombies album and was starting to go up the American charts.  And so people started contacting me about recording again and one of those people was a producer called Mike Hurst who had just had great success with the early Cat Stevens records like Mathew And Son, Gonna Get Me A Gun and I Love My Dog.  Mike really wanted to get into the studio with me but at that time I wasn’t sure that I wanted to commit to a career in the music business again because it had been so emotional and sad when The Zombies broke up.  I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to get back into the music business at all.

So what we did was Mike hired the Olympic Studios and he asked me to go into the studios after work because at that time I was still working during the day, with the intentions of putting my voices onto some tracks to see how I felt about it.  Mike had always had the idea of me re-recording She’s Not There.  However at the time it wasn’t necessarily going to be the case that this was going to be a commercial record that was going to be released; we were just trying things.  It is a little bit of a strange choice and even the Neil MacArthur thing is funny because I have seen Mike being interviewed and he has said that was my idea whereas I just remember it in a very different way (laughter).  I definitely remember it as being his idea and it was just a name with no real deep meaning behind it.

I was originally going to be James MacArthur right up to the last minute when the first record was released but the American company who had signed us up to release the record informed us that there was an actor in Hawaii Five-0 called James MacArthur and so they told us that they thought that it would be better if we used a different name other than James (laughter).  So that Kevin is how I became Neil MacArthur (laughter).  So it is a mixture of something to do with Hawaii Five-0, something to do with evening sessions and the Olympic Studios back in the late 60’s (laughter).

In the end She’s Not there was finally released with me singing under the name of Neal MacArthur and it was a minor hit; getting into the top thirty in the UK charts and so I was off and running.  I was back in the music business and for a while a lot of people knew me as Neal which can get quite confusing I can assure you (laughter).  But then after about a year I was coming home from a party with Chris (White) who was the original bass player in The Zombies, and who had formed a production company with Rod (Argent) and he informed me that they would produce me and gently suggesting that I should go back to my original name (laughter).  And so that is what happened.

When The Zombies finished I was a year out of the business.  Mike Hurst encouraged me to go back into the studio, and then a year later I was talking to Chris (White) and I ended up working with Chris and Rod again.  In a way it has the feel of The Zombies under a different name because it is the two main writers but this time they were sitting in the production chair together with the lead singer, myself.  It was a fine time and it was really enjoyable.

Whilst we are speaking about your solo career I recently played Say You Don’t Mind and I have to say that in my opinion it still sounds as fresh today as it did when you originally released it back in 1971.

Yes it does and I totally have to agree with you.  Firstly it is a great song which was written by future Paul McCartney and Wings member Denny Laine.  We liked it so much that the original Zombies used to end our shows with Say You Don’t Mind.  Back then we used to play it more as a rock and roll tune which is also how I play it with my solo band now.  However someone, and I’m not sure who, although Rod seems to think that he was responsible and Chris thinks that he is responsible, for having the idea of trying a very modern classical version; a modern approach to almost half of my album basically with strings.

We had been introduced to a wonderful arranger called Chris Gunning and it is he who is responsible for that marvellous arrangement on that track.  It is a twenty-one piece string orchestra and I must admit that at the time it didn’t strike me as being right for the track but it is so easy to be wise after the event (laughter).  People always make me laugh when they say that they always knew that the song was going to be a hit.  Don’t get me wrong Kevin, when I heard it I did like it but I never thought of it in terms of being a commercial project.  It was the third single release from the album and to be fair it was a pretty big hit.  I totally agree with you that it does still sound as fresh and as relevant today as it did when it was first recorded.

Can I take you back to 1977 when you were working with The Alan Parsons Project, were they good times?

Yes they were, they were great times.  I really do like Alan who had a silent partner called Eric Woolfson who actually wrote a lot of the material as well as being the executive producer.  However people remember Alan simply because he was the name of the project.  It was the first time that anyone had ever had the idea of having the producer as the artist as well.  Alan Parsons’ name is on the record so they probably remember Alan more than they do Eric but Alan is a lovely guy, and quite obviously he is a world-class producer and engineer.  And I have to say that it was great fun working with him on the projects.

Alan actually phoned me to see if I would work on the first one which was called Tales Of Mystery And Imagination and I was living in California at the time so I couldn’t get over to do that but I did do the third album which was called Pyramid and I sang on a track called The Eagle Will Rise Again.  Subsequently I have sung on five or six of the other albums.  They were great times; Alan had a very tight band and we did actually record an album together under the name Keats.  I remember that Alan produced it and it was really good.

Hadn’t you first met Alan back in 1968 when you and The Zombies were recording your Odessey And Oracle album at the Abbey Road Studios?

(Laughter) how did you know that?  Yes you are quite right, I first met Alan during that recording because he was one of the engineers at Abbey Road.  Although I didn’t know it back then Alan and I both lived quite close to Hampstead and we would often bump into one another socially.  There is a pub in Hampstead called The Flask and we would both often pop into there on a Saturday lunchtime for a pint (laughter).

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

Well I think that quite honestly it is the way that this incarnation of The Zombies has evolved.  It started with the idea of Rod and I getting together specifically to play six concerts.  However we enjoyed it so much that here we are nearly twenty years later still playing.  Just to see the band grow over those years has been a real thrill.  It is intensified by the fact that we were not expecting it.  I really think that the way this incarnation of The Zombies has gown has honestly been the most exciting part of my career.

Who has inspired you along the way?

Let me think, well the greats of rock and roll are the reason why I first got involved in music.  So it would have to be Elvis (Presley), Chuck Berry and Little Richard.  Later on I really did like Ricky Nelson and then of course the big explosion which was The Beatles.  Everyone in The Zombies were completely entranced by The Beatles and everything that they did, especially opening up the rest of the world for British artists.  So all of those people have really influenced me as a singer.  I think that Rod (Argent) has probably influenced me as much as anyone and as a writer I had a wonderful friend called Duncan John Browne who was a singer-songwriter who sadly passed away in 1993.  Duncan was a marvellous guitarist and when I was in my early twenties I learnt a lot from him about the art of writing.

Which single event would you say has changed your life forever?

I often think that it is recording She’s Not There really.  It was a very interesting evening; we didn’t know how it was going to end up, and you have to remember that before we had recorded that song my career with the music business could have lasted for weeks or even days or if I was lucky then perhaps a few months.  We had at that time already decided to become a professional band; we had given up our jobs, and some of the guys had joined the band straight from school, so whether it was a hit or not I’m sure that we would have given it a go out there on the road.  But recording that song did simply change everything.

Are there any ambitions left for you to achieve?

I would love to write a classic evergreen song.  I would really like to do that.

Testing your memory now, can you remember what the first single was that you ever bought?

The first single that I ever bought was, and I sometimes tell this story in different ways, I actually played it at home but I gave it to someone for their birthday (laughter), it was All I Have To Do Is Dream and Claudette by The Everly Bothers.  It was classed as being a double A Side back in the day (laughter).

Which concert would you say has been the best that you have ever seen?

That would be way back in the 70’s and I saw Carole King at The Fairfield Hall in Croydon just at the time when her Tapestry album had gone to number one in America and here she was in the UK opening for James Taylor.  It was a wonderful concert, absolutely wonderful.

Well that’s the best that you have ever seen but who was the first?

That’s an interesting thought isn’t it?  It is a sort of a strange one in that it was The Rolling Stones just after they had recorded Come On and they were playing in a really small club called Studio 51 in Great Newport Street in London, which is just off Leicester Square.  It is a minute club and it was absolutely packed and the crowd were right on top of them.  The atmosphere was so electrifying seeing them perform and I know that I have just said that the James Taylor and Carole King concert was the best that I had ever seen but thinking about it, this would have to be right up there with them.

The Stones were all sat on stools so there was no running around from Mick Jagger, and they just played classic rhythm and blues.  It was fantastic.  Such a wonderful atmosphere in such a small club and we were right on top of them; it was brilliant.  I was also lucky enough to see The Beatles early on as well but they were already successful and I have to tell you that they are my all-time favourite band.  But because they were already successful their gig was in a theatre and the crowd just went insane and so I couldn’t really hear them that well (laughter).  However the bits that I heard were great.

In 2012 there was the unveiling of a Blue Plaque at The Blacksmith’s Arms Pub in St. Albans where The Zombies met for their first rehearsal.  Was that a special moment for you all?

It certainly was, and obviously it commemorates our very first meeting outside The Blacksmith’s Arms Pub in St. Albans back in Easter 1961.  I personally am incredibly honoured that they would do that and hopefully that will be there forever.  I must admit that I do still drive to a part of St. Albans for rehearsals sometimes and if I ever drive through the middle of St. Albans where the pub is, my eyes are always drawn to that Blue Plaque.  I think that it is an incredible honour that they would do that and on top of that we all had a really nice day out at the unveiling.  It was lovely to go back and to meet lots of old friends together with lots of new friends as well.  It was a really well arranged launch for the Blue Plaque.

On that note Colin let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s been an absolute pleasure Kevin and thank you for taking the time to speak to me.  It has been a fantastic chat and you have made me all reminiscent, so thank you.  I do hope to see you in Bilston and it would be nice to have another chat, so thank you.