Jim Rodford, who was the founding bassist of Argent and later played with the Kinks and the Zombies, has died. He was 76.

"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," Rod Argent wrote in a lengthy remembrance on the band's Facebook page. "More details are not yet known about the exact cause of death."

 

Born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, where he lived his entire life, he began his musical career as a schoolboy during the skiffle boom, making an upright bass out of a tea chest, broom handle and string and playing it with a local group called the Bluetones. Their regular gig at the Pioneer Club caused Argent, to take notice.

“Rod used to come and watch the Bluetones perform," he told the Times-Series, "and in ‘61 said he wanted to form a band, so I took them to the club and set them up. That was the very first time the Zombies played together and then they went on to conquer the world."

Argent had asked him to join the Zombies, but he refused. “I was in the biggest band in the area," he continued, "so why would I want to play with some young kids?“

Instead, he joined the Mike Cotton Sound, who were nationally known at the time, and wound up opening up for the Beatles and serving as the back-up band on the road for Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney and P.J. Proby.

When the Zombies broke up in 1969, Rodford joined forces with his cousin to form Argent, scoring a Top Five hit in 1972 with "Hold Your Head Up." Argent's breakup in 1976 paved the way for him to join the Kinks a couple of years later, just in time for their U.S. comeback with Low Budget. He stayed with them until their 1996 dissolution.

The Zombies' 2004 reunion paved the way for Rodford to finally become a member of the band, and he brought his son, Steve, along as the drummer. Both remained with the band through the present.

When not on the road, Rodford often played gigs in St. Albans with Steve and his other son, Russ, a guitarist, as the Rodford Files, which also included his two granddaughters. Last year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Hertfordshire in St. Albans.

 

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