Argent was an English rock band founded in 1969 by keyboardist Rod Argent, formerly of The Zombies. Original members of the band were bassist Jim Rodford (Rod Argent’s cousin and formerly with the Mike Cotton Sound), drummer Bob Henrit and guitarist/keyboardist Russ Ballard (both formerly with The Roulettes and Unit 4 + 2).
Lead vocal duties were shared between Ballard, Rodford, and Argent. When Ballard left in 1974, he was replaced by guitarist/vocalist John Verity and guitarist John Grimaldi. This lineup produced two albums and a film that was never released (though a clip is available to view on John Verity’s website).
The band’s decision to stop touring late in 1976 has never been fully explained, though the decision might have been influenced by the declining health of one of its members. Rodford, Henrit and Verity briefly continued together under the name Phoenix before going their separate ways, with first Rodford and then Henrit becoming members of The Kinks.
Meanwhile, Rod Argent went on to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and to produce a couple of solo albums. Argent’s biggest hit was the Rod Argent and Chris White composition “Hold Your Head Up”, featuring lead vocals by Russ Ballard, from the All Together Now album, which, in a heavily edited single form, reached No. 5 in the U.S. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
As it stands in 2013, three of the classic songs that Rod wrote and helped to make hits as a member of the Zombies in the 1960s now have total airplay in America alone of some 14 million.
The US performing rights body BMI says that Time of the Season stands at nearly seven million, She’s not there at 4.5m and Tell Her No is on 3m. If you spun them 14 million times back to back, that would represent about 80 years’ worth of continuous music.
Like so many British kids who were prime targets for the music from another planet that arrived in 1956, Rodney T. Argent fell head over heels for rock ‘n’ roll at the age of 11. By the end of the two minutes and 14 seconds of Elvis’ Hound Dog, he knew that one day he had to start his own band.
Besides, his cousin Jim Rodford (later a co-founder with Rod of the band Argent, then a member of the Kinks and now bassist with the Zombies) had one called the Bluetones, whom Rod saw at that same tender age. By his own description, he had stars in his eyes. During the 1980s, along with a collaboration album with Robert Howes and the solo Red House, Argent also turned his hand to writing music for TV.
He had played on Lloyd Webber’s Argentine Melody, the BBC’s 1978 football World Cup theme, on which he was amusingly but unconvincingly disguised as Rodriguez Argentina. Eight years later, he was at it again, writing the ITV theme Aztec Gold and performing it as Silsoe.
In 2000, as recognition of the Zombies’ key role in 1960s pop-rock began to build, Rod reunited with his old friend Colin Blunstone. What started as an impromptu decision to play six gigs together has become 13 years (and counting) of outstanding new work, with intensive touring all around the world and a wealth of fresh material.
Argent and Blunstone released 2002’s Out Of The Shadows under their own names, but since then have recorded as the Zombies, with a new line-up that now includes Rodford on bass, his son Steve on drums and Tom Toomey on guitar.