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You Say It's Your Birthday: Chris White of the Zombies

Today is the 55th birthday of former Zombies bassist Chris White. The

Zombies separated themselves in the mid-1960s from the other groups in the fabled

British Invasion pack by layering their songs with jazz rhythms, melodies

in minor keys and harmonies that wouldn't have been out of place on a

Beach Boys record. Born in Barnet, England, White joined the Zombies after

the departure of original bassist Paul Arnold in 1964. Later that year,

the group's cover of "Summertime" won a battle of the bands contest

sponsored by the London Evening News and landed the Zombies a contract with

British Decca, a label that was still kicking itself for passing on the

Beatles. The Zombies' first single, "She's Not There," went to #2 in the

U.S., with "Tell Her No" also hitting the top 10 later in the year. While

the Zombies were among the first British Invasion groups to hit the U.S.

charts, 1965's Begins Here failed to spawn any

other singles on the charts.

Having been dropped by Decca due to lower than expected sales for their

debut, the Zombies returned to the studio in 1967 to record Odyssey and

Oracle for CBS. White and vocalist Rod Argent produced the album and

paid for studio time at Abbey Road Studios out of their own pockets.

Recorded while the group was on its last legs, the album spawned the

Brit-pop classic "Time of the Season" and is considered by many to be a

forgotten gem of the British Invasion. The Zombies broke up two weeks

after completing the recording of Odyssey and Oracle and

declined to re-form when "Time of the Season" hit #3 in 1968. While other

members of the Zombies went on to solo careers, most notably Argent,

White seemingly retired from the music business for many years. In 1991,

the group reunited for an album entitled New World, which was never

released in the U.S. The Zombies released a box set entitled Zombie Heaven in 1997, and they reunited to perform "She's Not There" and "Time of the Season" at a London club.

Other birthdays: Peter Wolf (J. Geils Band), 52; Matthew Fisher (Procol

Harum), 52; Taylor Dayne, 35; and Paul Davis (Happy Mondays), 32.

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