The Zombies Acquire Rights to Their '60s Catalog

Psychedelic-Pop icons, and 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, The Zombies, have acquired the rights to their 1960’s recording catalogue.  The deal includes their timeless hit singles “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No”, and “Time of the Season”, as well as the ground-breaking 1968 album Odessey & Oracle, a regular entry in “Best Albums of All Time” lists in publications like Rolling Stone and Mojo Magazine.  

Via a newly-formed Partnership entity between the four surviving original members, lead singer Colin Blunstone, keyboardist Rod Argent, bassist Chris White, and drummer Hugh Grundy, along with Helen Atkinson, the widow and Estate Trustee of late guitarist Paul Atkinson, the band secured their catalogue rights from Marquis Enterprises Ltd., the independent UK production company they originally signed with as teenagers in 1964.  “Zombies Partners LLP” will house the band’s shared interests in their recordings, merchandise and life-rights, and will be overseen by Chris Tuthill and Cindy da Silva of The Rocks Management in New Jersey, the group’s managers for the past 10 years. 

The original incarnation of The Zombies only had a short period of recorded output before splitting in late 1967, due to a perceived lack of success.  Despite this, interest in their moody jazz-inflected and harmony-laden recordings slowly compounded over subsequent decades, boosted by prominent film, television and advertising placements, including a global Chanel campaign starring Keira Knightly (“She’s Not There”), Disney’s blockbuster movie “Cruella” (“Time of the Season”), and the closing scene of the beloved “Shitt’s Creek” series finale (“This Will Be Our Year”).  Today, The Zombies boast well over 3 Million monthly listeners on Spotify - more than 3.5 Million people have opened their Shazam app to identify “Time of the Season” alone - while their physical re-issues regularly appear on vinyl sales charts. This catalogue announcement comes on the heels of the film festival premiere of Hung Up On A Dream this March at SXSW in Austin TX. The new Zombies documentary, slated for public release later this year, chronicles the band’s unusual 6-decade journey to becoming part of the 2019 Class of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Janet Jackson and Radiohead, and is directed by musician and filmmaker Robert Schwartzman, and co-produced by Schwartzman’s Utopia Films, The Ranch Productions, and Tom Hanks’ Playtone.  At the same time, Blunstone and Argent’s current touring and recording lineup of The Zombies debuted their latest album Different Game (Cooking Vinyl Records) at SXSW, followed by a 5-week UK tour in the Spring, with a North American run on-sale for October. Keyboardist Argent reflects, “I know we’d all like to thank [Marquis Enterprises Director] Carole [Broughton] for a fantastic stewardship.  I particularly feel that in those early years, soon after the original version of the band broke up, she did a brilliant job, spreading the word abroad by tirelessly licensing and relicensing our songs  - to the point where now, all these years later, our entire catalogue is streamed and enjoyed by an audience of several millions every month, all over the world - an audience still continually growing by the addition of many new young fans.  It is so gratifying to feel that 60 years later our music still has relevance, and we are now in the position to own our own recordings.”

An “indie band” decades before the term existed, The Zombies innocently avoided the path of many of their peers during the dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll, whose recordings eventually became the property of major entertainment corporations.  Formed in 1961 by Argent after scouting nascent musicians at local schools in St. Albans, a small and historic city North of London, The Zombies developed a strong regional following in the South of England before entering The Herts Beat Competition in the Spring of 1964, a battle sponsored by the London Evening News to find the best “Beat” band in Hertfordshire County.   Winning the final round with their unusual cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime”, The Zombies brought home the £250 grand prize and an offer to record a single for Decca Records.  Rather than immediately signing a contract with the prestigious record label, the band sought the advice of a family friend, producer Ken Jones, who together with his partner, publisher and “song-man” Joe Roncoroni, ran Marquis Enterprises.  Jones proposed that he would produce their first recording session, and that Marquis would negotiate terms to license the single to Decca.  Jones also suggested the band try writing original songs for the session, rather than recording the (mostly American R&B) covers they performed live.  Argent and White both took his advice, and each brought a song to the studio the next week.  Argent’s “She’s Not There” was chosen as the A-side, and mere months later, The Zombies found themselves at the forefront of the “British Invasion”, becoming the 2nd UK band after The Beatles to reach #1 in the American charts with a self-written single.  

The relationship with Marquis continued, although with Argent and White eventually taking over the producers’ role from Jones for their Odessey & Oracle album.  Licensed to CBS Records for release in 1968, the album initially flopped, until the final single “Time of the Season” became a surprise world-wide hit in 1969, over a year after The Zombies had disbanded.  Marquis Enterprises reclaimed control of The Zombies’ catalogue after the Decca and CBS agreements expired, and remained independent during the intervening decades.  Carole Broughton, Director of Marquis Ent., was an employee when The Zombies first signed to the company in 1964, and since acquiring Marquis in 1977, has personally overseen the licensing of the catalogue for re-issues, placements and digital distribution. "Now 60 years on I still have the same passion for the Zombies music as when I first heard and worked on “She's Not There” with Joe and Ken in 1964. I have absolutely loved working on The Zombies amazing catalogue and dealing with such a lovely bunch of guys, so it is a bittersweet moment for me to be handing the catalogue back but I wouldn't have wanted it to be in the hands of anyone other than The Zombies themselves. I personally will continue to enjoy their music for many years to come and am excited to see what the future holds for them. It has been an absolute pleasure working with them and I know the catalogue will continue to thrive and be enjoyed by their many fans."

Zombies co-manager Tuthill adds, “Together with Monika Tashman and the amazing legal team at Manatt, it’s been an absolute privilege to help bring this precious and influential catalogue into the hands of its creators.  Everyone at The Rocks Management is excited to continue building a team of champions around the band, and are thrilled to be part of sharing The Zombies’ body of work to countless future generations!” •