Argent

Argent biography

Argent is an English rock band founded in 1969 by keyboardist Rod Argent, formerly of The Zombies.

Career

The first three demos from Argent, recorded in the autumn of 1968 featured Mac MacLeod on bass guitar though he was not meant to become a member of the group.

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

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 and there followed a period of intense recording, in which they 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 come off the road 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.

Songs

Argent's biggest hit was the Rod Argent and Chris White composition "Hold Your Head Up", featuring lead vocals by Russ Ballard, from the All Together Now album, which, in a heavily edited single form, reached No. 5 in the U.S. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

The sound of the band was a mix of rock and pop, but also covered more progressive rock territory in songs like "The Coming of Kohoutek", an instrumental from their Nexus album. When Ballard left the band after Encore, they took an even more progressive/fusion turn with their final Epic album Circus and then signed to a new record label (United Artists) for the final 1975 album Counterpoints. By 2005, all albums, including compilations, have been re-released on CD, except Counterpoints.

Influence

"Hold Your Head Up" was covered in 1987 by the band 20/Twenty, which recorded on Refuge records' Christian label. American jamband Phish plays an instrumental version of "Hold Your Head Up", usually as a transition into a "joke song" by drummer Jon Fishman.

Argent also recorded the original version of "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", written by Russ Ballard, which was covered by Kiss in 1991 under the name "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You II", and featured prominently at the end of the film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. The song also became a Contemporary Christian rock anthem and was twice covered by the Christian Rock band Petra, in 1977 (on the album Come and Join Us) and again in 1984 (on the album Beat the System), with new verses.

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