We were a blues rock band from Texas...better than the original Zombies
June 3, 2016 8:56 AM   Subscribe

The True Story Of The Fake Zombies. In 1969, the English psychedelic pop band The Zombies had a surprise hit in the States with "Time of the Season". Since they'd broken up two years earlier, the obvious thing for a promoter to do would be to recruit a bunch of young Texan blues-rock musicians in cowboy hats (including 2/3 of the future ZZ Top), call them the Zombies, and send them on tour. And that wasn't the only fake Zombies band out there.
posted by hydrophonic (33 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Questions to ask alleged Zombies to verify their identities:

1. What's your name?
2. Who's your daddy?
3. Is he rich like me?
4. Has he taken any time to show you what you need to live?

100% correct answers needed to pass.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:11 AM on June 3, 2016 [67 favorites]


Fifty years ago seemed to be the golden age for entertainingly shifty music management. I have also read that during Fleetwood Mac's long period in the wilderness between their traditional blues founding and their Buckingham/Nicks/Rumors rebirth, their management even went so far as to recruit another band entirely and send them on the road without telling the actual Fleetwood Mac. That is even more insulting than taking up the name of a defunct group and slapping it on someone else.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:21 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


They weren't the only fake "British" group of hitmakers out there, either - the Dave Clark Five and others saw similar imitators. I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?

That said, the real Zombies played the teen club in my mom's backwater Massachusetts hometown and she didn't go - I'll never entirely forgive her.*

She also saw The Animals a few years later and said they were, "too loud".
posted by ryanshepard at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


So let me get this straight: the band died, and then it came back to life? Zombies indeed.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [15 favorites]


I loved them.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2016


Klaatu - the Canadian Beatles.
posted by parki at 9:34 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Didn't Sugarhill employ a number of different touring versions of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five? I know when I saw them in SF the whole show was lip-synced.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:35 AM on June 3, 2016


For those that don't know, the Zombies box set (Zombie Heaven) is a 4-CD set of consistently excellent music. Apparently the Zombies never wrote a duff song - the quality of songs is extraordinary. Is it obvious? I LOVE the Zombies.
posted by parki at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?

There's always The Better Beatles
posted by thelonius at 9:45 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


parki speaks the truth: Odessey and Oracle (full album)
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:46 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


So first, The Zombies.
Then, the Ersatz Zombies.
Then, the Undead Zombies.
Then, the dormant Zombies.
Then, The Rump Zombies Still Got That Hunger (For -- say it with me . . . )
 
posted by Herodios at 9:46 AM on June 3, 2016


Questions to ask alleged Zombies to verify their identities:
1. What's your name?
2. Who's your daddy?
3. Is he rich like me?
4. Has he taken any time to show you what you need to live?
100% correct answers needed to pass.


And they should tell it to you slowly.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?

That's kind of a trick question, because (dun dun dun!) the Beatles never existed.

Actually, though, "sounds-like" records used to be a big thing, where your uncle who maybe didn't pay that much attention to pop culture might get you an album by The Manchesters for your birthday by mistake, or because distribution was spotty and that's all he could find. The Beatles were a prime target for this, but it happened with lots of other bands. I've got a terrible, terrible album by "The Surfsiders" that supposedly features a young Lou Reed.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:50 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


How would I know?

Why should I care?
posted by she's not there at 10:13 AM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


And they should tell it to you slowly.

Tell you what?
I really want to know.
posted by Floydd at 10:18 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fascinating read. Glad to read above in the comments that so many other bands I like (Fleetwood Mac FTW!) managed to avoid a similar touring fate.
posted by OiToy at 10:29 AM on June 3, 2016


> I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?

> There's always The Better Beatles

And at least one group of cheeky youth have added a second 's' to become The Beatless.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


More fake band shenanigans: Chris Robison on his membership in the fake Steam (Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye)

Chris Robison also played with Elephant's Memory and on the quasi-fake NY Dolls record David & Sylvain Tokyo Dolls Live, as well as releasing solo gay psych-folk records.
posted by larrybob at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2016


My favorite part is how the shady company backing all these fake versions of defunct bands got blown up because they tangled with an enemy who could actually defend their IP in Archie Comics when they put together a real version of the Archies.

It probably wasn't going to last that much longer anyway since consolidation of music labels was inevitably going to prevent this sort of thing eventually through basically the same mechanism, but being brought low because you gave some dude a drum set and a cap and told him to call himself Jughead is pretty great.
posted by Copronymus at 11:03 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


The (real) Zombies are still on tour, and they're a great show!
posted by infinitewindow at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I loves me a Zombies thread! And you know who else does?

Joyce and Terry
Paul and Molly
Liz and Brian
Joy and Davey
Kim and Maggie
June and Duffy
Jean and Jim
and Jim and Christie.

They all love the Zombies too.

And so can you.
posted by parki at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Before the decline of the major label system and the rise of the internet and social media, enterprising and less than scrupulous businessmen ran the industry with relative impunity, with artists serving primarily as commodities to be exploited."

Unlike what happens now. /s
posted by eye of newt at 12:28 PM on June 3, 2016


without telling the actual Fleetwood Mac.

Even better, they told the ersatz group that the actual band knew all about it. From what I recall, it was actually done legally, as the record company owned the rights to the band name, not the band itself. Can't remember how that came about, considering the name came from two band members (Mick, obviously, but the Mac was supposed to entice John "Mac" McVie to join, but he declined at first).
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:29 PM on June 3, 2016


Joyce and Terry
Paul and Molly
Liz and Brian
Joy and Davey
Kim and Maggie
June and Duffy
Jean and Jim
and Jim and Christie.


"All dead or divorced now, except Jim and Jean Rodford", reports Chris White in the Zombie Heaven liner notes.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Actually, though, "sounds-like" records used to be a big thing...The Beatles were a prime target for this

Interesting comment there at the Beatles link:

This phenomenon might also explain the people who claim to have played on Beatles tracks (e.g. Bernard Purdie who claims he played drums on several early recordings http://www.jimvallance.com/03-... Yes, you may have played on "She Love You", but it might have been for the Columbia Record Club no-name band giveaway record
posted by thelonius at 1:44 PM on June 3, 2016




The Zombies Tiny Desk Concert

OMG, what a treasure trove at that site! Thank you, rocket88!
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:42 PM on June 3, 2016


There's also Orion, the Elvis soundalike who was marketed after Elvis Presley's death wearing a mask and with the promise that--winkwinknudgenudge--he was absolutely not the King of Rock N Roll in disguise.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:16 PM on June 3, 2016


Fun Zombies fact: the best singer on the Alan Parsons project albums was a zombie. Colin Blunstone. Also he isn't dead yet! Wikipedia says he still sings.

The Eagle will Rise Again

posted by bukvich at 7:17 PM on June 3, 2016


Also, the 72/73-era fake Velvet Underground, trying to capitalize on a band that wasn't even commercially successful.
posted by ovvl at 9:20 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?"

. . . The Monkees?
posted by aspersioncast at 7:20 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess it doesn't count if the band organized it themselves, but it also reminds me of the Man...or Astro-man? clone tours:
Preemptively answering the burning question, “Isn’t this just some sort of Man or Astro-man cover band,” the group writes, “Absolutely not. This tour is under the complete control and direction of the original genome DNA batch group suppliers know as Man or Astro-man?. The performers on stage are direct DNA derivatives of the Astro-men themselves, and therefore, by definition, are, in fact Astro-men. This tour is a technological tour de force, bringing you all the sights and sounds of Man or Astro-man? as never witnessed before.”
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:48 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I wonder if anyone was ever ballsy enough to field an imitation Beatles?"

. . . The Monkees?


I would suggest The Mosquitoes
posted by TedW at 6:23 PM on June 9, 2016


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