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Gold Meets… The Zombies' Colin Blunstone: Rock icon reveals how The Beatles made Odessey & Oracle so special

15 November 2021, 15:47

By Mayer Nissim

We catch up with The Zombies frontman Colin Blunstone and talk about The Beatles and Odessey & Oracle, following Patti LaBelle on stage eight times a day, and what it was like to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Earlier this year, The Zombies celebrated the 90th anniversary of Abbey Road with a streaming show and live concert from the legendary Studio Two.

Abbey Road was of course where the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers recorded Odessey & Oracle, their classic 1968 album, which featured the number 3 US hit 'Time of the Season'.

Ahead of the show, Gold's David Andrews caught up with the band's legendary frontman Colin Blunstone to talk about the history of The Zombies, and he told us how The Beatles played a vital role in making the album so special.

Watch the interview in full above.

"We recorded it over the summer of '67 in studio three," Colin said of Odessey & Oracle.

"We used the same engineers that had just been working on The Beatles' album Sgt Pepper. Geoff Emerick and Peter Vince – wonderful, wonderful engineers. I'm sure we were using some of the same equipment as The Beatles.

"For instance, John Lennon's mellotron was left in studio three, and we used it. And if you listen to Odessey & Oracle, there's mellotron all over it. So if John hadn't left his mellotron in there, it would have been a different album."

He added: "We were really thrilled. We were huge Beatles fans. And when we walked into studio three, there were loads of percussion instruments that had been left on the floor by The Beatles.

"So we were picking up these percussion instruments, and thinking, 'My goodness, the last people to use these were The Beatles when they were recording Sgt Pepper'."

And it wasn't just The Beatles' instruments that The Zombies benefited from – they also took advantage of the boundary-pushing recording techniques that the studio-bound band and their team had developed.

"In British studios, you only had 4-tracks," Colin explained. "There were no 8-track machines. But the Beach Boys had started using an 8-track machine in America when they were recording Pet Sounds. And The Beatles demanded that they should have more tracks.

"The Abbey Road boffins came up with a way of combining two 4-track machines together, which actually gave you seven tracks. You lost one track when the two machines were put together.

"So because of The Beatles, because we followed them into Abbey Road, we were recording on seven tracks, which, at the time, was a very exciting prospect. It was great."

In the interview, Colin also spoke about how he became the band's lead singer by chance and Rod Argent – who originally wanted the role – ended up on keyboards, giving the band their unique sound.

"I was just putting my guitar into its case, and I sang a Ricky Nelson song, just to myself," he said.

"[Rod] heard it, and he said, ''’ll tell you what: if you’ll be the lead singer, I’ll play keyboards'.

'And essentially, that was how The Zombies were formed. I overnight became the lead singer and he became the keyboard player in the band. That’s how we started."

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