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=Living Legend

Rod Argent

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Rod Argent was born in 1945 in St. Albans. His early musical education consisted of a couple of years of piano lessons and several years as a member of St. Albans’ Cathedral Choir. In 1956, he heard Elvis sing “Hound Dog,” and in that moment fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll.

He soon went to his first live gig - featuring his older cousin Jim Rodford (later to play bass with Argent, and now playing with The Kinks) on tea chest bass. Star-struck, he knew that he somehow had to be part of what was going on, and immediately vowed that one day he would have his own group. Three years later, at the age of 16, he formed The Zombies.

During the whole of this period, however, although he was totally immersed in the rock ‘n’ roll and pop music explosion of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, he was still avidly drinking in all the other great music he could find, particularly exploring areas of jazz typified by the Mile Davis/Bill Evans groups of the period, along with the whole landscape of European classical music - his especial enthusiasms in this area being Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel and Bartok.

Between 1961 and 1963, The Zombies quickly built a reputation as one of the best groups in and around St.Albans, and in a 1963 they secured a record deal with Decca after winning the “Herts Beat” contest. Rod wrote “She's Not There” especially for the first recording session (only his second-ever song), and the subsequent record was a hit all over the world, going to Number One in the U.S. Cash Box charts (Number Three in Billboard).

Rod was to write all the other major hits for The Zombies, including “Time of The Season,” (also a U.S. Number One) and “Tell Her No.” The Zombies were only together professionally for three years, and although much acclaimed now, only had one hit in the UK - in spite of enjoying much more considerable success in the rest of the world. The lack of success contributed to their breaking up in 1967, although not before recording and producing a final album – “Odyssey and Oracle,” which has come to be regarded as one of the finest albums of the '60s.

After The Zombies, Rod formed his second band, Argent, which between 1970 and 1975 also gained worldwide success, both in live performance and with such records as “Hold Your Head Up” (Top Five in US and UK), while Rod continued to enjoy a reputation as one of the finest keyboard players of the genre.

After Argent split, Rod appeared as a keyboard player on countless records, with artists as diverse as The Who, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Colin Blunstone, Gary Moore and Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a time during which he deliberately was trying to broaden his base musically, and as well as continuing to record and play his own compositions, Argent became involved in writing in other areas. In 1977, he was commissioned to write music for the Royal Academy's Laser Exhibition “Light Fantastic” and in 1981, he wrote the musical “Masquerade”, which was produced at “The Young Vic” in 1982 under the direction of Frank Dunlop.

In 1978, Rod's album, Moving Home, was recorded, with Phil Collins on drums and Alphonso Johnson on bass, and its release coincided with some live concerts in London and St. Albans with a fantastic band - Alfonso on bass, Chester Thompson on drums, Peter Robinson and Robin Lumley on second and third keyboards, a horn section featuring Gary Barnacle, John Goodsall on guitar and Morris Pert on percussion.

Since 1982, Rod has been involved in many areas of music. He has written many themes and scores for UK television - including two ITV soccer world cup themes (one a Top 50 record). The ten years from 1987 to 1997 have seen him (with his colleague Peter Van Hooke) produce and perform on several highly successful albums for other artists. Tanita Tikaram's Ancient Heart and” have all achieved multi-million dollar sales, while Nanci Griffith's Late Nite Grande Hotel was the first of her albums to make the UK Top 50. Rod's most recent production, On Nights Like This, the debut album of Colombian-born singer, Soraya is now approaching one million in world-wide sales.

The last two years have also seen Rod seriously applying himself to his love of the piano and exploration of the classical repertoire, and while his album, Rod Argent - Classically Speaking, includes three of his own compositions, in the main, it is a balance of solo piano music that he particularly loves, covering compositions by Chopin, Bach, Ravel, Elgar and Greig.

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