Argent - springing up from the remnants of The Zombies.

Argent - springing up from the remnants of The Zombies.
Argent – springing up from the remnants of The Zombies.

Early 70s favorites tonight, Argent. Assembled by former Zombies founding member Rod Argent (hence, the name) in 1969 at the demise of his former band, they were an instant hit, almost from the starting gate. With a number of hits during their somewhat short tenure, Argent was a very successful band on both sides of the Atlantic, and much of the rest of the world.

Tonight’s concert comes around the time of the release of their third album and features one of their biggest hits of 1972, Hold Your Head Up as well as the single God Gave Rock and Roll To You.

Original members of the band were Rod Argent on keyboards, bassist Jim Rodford (Argent’s cousin and formerly with the Mike Cotton Sound), drummer Bob Henrit and guitarist Russ Ballard (both formerly with The Roulettes and Unit 4 + 2). Lead vocal duties were shared between Ballard, Rodford and Argent.

The first three demos from Argent, recorded in the autumn of 1968 featured Mac MacLeod on bass guitar, though he would not become a member of the group. Rod Argent, Chris White (former Zombies bassist, producer, songwriter) and Russ Ballard were the group’s songwriters.

When Ballard left in 1974, he was replaced by guitarist/vocalist John Verity and guitarist John Grimaldi. This lineup produced two albums and a film that was never released (though a clip is available to view on John Verity’s website). The band’s decision to stop touring late in 1976 has never been fully explained, though the decision might have been influenced by the declining health of one of its members. Rodford, Henrit and Verity briefly continued together under the name Phoenix before going their separate ways, with first Rodford and then Henrit becoming members of The Kinks. Meanwhile, Rod Argent went on to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and to produce a couple of solo albums. He also opened a keyboard shop in the West End of London.

The original Argent lineup reunited at the High Voltage Festival in Victoria Park, London on 25 July 2010, and undertook a short five-date concert tour in December 2010, with gigs in Frome, Southampton, Wolverhampton, Leamington Spa and London.

Argent also reunited for a five show tour from January to February 2012, before performing one last show at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury as part of a benefit concert, on 2 June 2013, supporting The Zombies, on a bill that also included Marillion members Steve Hogarth and Steve Rothery.

Rodford died after a fall on 20 January 2018, at age 76.

Here’s a reminder of what the early 70s were all about, as Argent performs at the BBC’s Paris Theatre in London and preserved for posterity by the BBC Transcription Service.

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