We Mourn The Passing Of Jim Rodford, Legendary Bass Player With The Zombies, The Kinks, And Argent

Jim Rodford – photo credit Sam Wells

Walter James “Jim” Rodford (July 7, 1941- January 20, 2018)

Jim Rodford, legendary British bass player with The Zombies, The Kinks and Argent, passed away this morning at his home in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK.

The 76-year-old musician, whose career spanned 6 decades, had just returned home to England after completing a short tour in Florida with The Zombies.  He died after a fall on the stairs in his home.

The Zombies’ Rod Argent said,

“It is with deep sadness that I learned this morning that my dear cousin and lifelong friend, Jim Rodford, died this morning after a fall on the stairs.

When Colin and I put together our second incarnation of The Zombies in late 1999, our first phone call was to Jim. He gave us absolutely unflagging commitment, loyalty and unbelievable energy for eighteen years, and our gratitude is beyond measure.

Jim was a wonderful person, loved by everybody. When Colin and I, shocked and hardly able to talk, shared the news this morning, Colin said ” I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him…” He will be unbelievably missed. Goodnight and God Bless dear friend.”

Rodford began playing bass in the late 1950’s with The Bluetones, the top local Skiffle band in his hometown of St. Albans.  In 1961, Rodford helped his younger cousin Rod Argent form The Zombies, lending them equipment and coaching them through their first rehearsal (although he declined the invitation to join the fledgling band at that time).  Throughout the 1960’s, Rodford played with The Bluetones and the Mike Cotton Sound, before joining his cousin Rod’s new band – the eponymously named Argent – following the break-up of The Zombies in 1968.  Gold records and chart success soon followed with Argent’s hit singles ‘Hold Your Head Up’ and ‘God Gave Rock & Roll To You’, until the group disbanded in 1976.  Rodford then became a member of The Kinks, starting with their 1979 release ‘Low Budget’, as the band was growing to arena-level success, and remained until their dissolution in 1996.  Soon afterward, Rodford came full circle, finally accepting the invitation to join The Zombies – along with his son Steve on drums – when Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone resurrected the band with a new line-up in late 1999.  Rodford spent the next 18 years recording and touring the world with The Zombies, until his last performance with the band on January 14, 2018 at the 30a Songwriters Festival in Miramar Beach, Florida.

A consummate musician, family man, and quiet yet powerful presence on stage, Rodford saw no gig as too big or too small.  In between major tours, he would regularly play with local bands in St. Albans, including The Rodford Files, with his sons Steve and Russell.  Rodford received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by the UK’s University of Hertfordshire in September 2017, and was working on his autobiography at the time of his passing.  Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Jean, and 3 generations of Rodfords, many of whom followed his path into music.

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