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The Story Behind The Song: She's Not There by The Zombies

A band of Herts teenagers hit the big time with this ballad of emotional detachment, a peak they'd never scale again. Classic Rock told the tale of this classic in 2008

Ahh... 1964. It was bliss to be alive in that dawn; but to be a young British band was to be blessed with fortuity on an almost cosmic scale. The Beatles had stormed the US entertainment establishment and all of a sudden there appeared limitless possibilities for those who followed in their wake.

The Zombies, from St Albans, were perhaps the epitome of the British Invasion group, who through a combination of good timing, luck and one all-time classic managed to stake their place in rock history. 

The classic in question was a haunting, piano-led song that instantly struck deeper than the Mersey-flavoured pop of the time. It should have set up Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and co. for a career as long and rewarding as that of contemporaries like The Kinks or the Stones. Instead, within three years, disillusioned and convinced they were one-hit wonders, The Zombies had split, leaving only a misunderstood psychedelic gem as a parting gift. 

It’s strange, then, to hear that She’s Not There was something of an afterthought. In fact the band, all of whom were still teenagers, had to be cajoled into writing any original material of their own. At the end of 1963 they won a talent contest at Watford Town Hall. First prize was a recording contract with Decca, who, still smarting over passing on The Beatles, were determined not to miss out again. 

“The idea was that we’d record the Gershwins’ Summertime as our first single,” keyboardist Argent recalls, “but a couple of weeks before we were due to go in our producer Ken Jones said: ‘You should really try and write something for the session’. I had only ever written one song before.” 

Retreating to his room for inspiration, keyboardist Argent saw the name of the track _No__ __One Told Me_ on one of his John Lee Hooker albums. 

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