13 Amazing Bands Similar To The Zombies

Written by Dan Farrant

Formed in the London suburb of St. Albans in 1962, The Zombies are a British rock band best known for their 1960s hits “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “Time Of the Season.” Their music is characterized by an interesting blend of rock, baroque pop, R&B, and psychedelic pop.

Despite their early success, the band faced declining demand for live appearances and ultimately split up in mid-December 1967. However, their music continued to resonate with audiences, and their influence grew over time.

To this day, The Zombies’ legacy as pioneers of baroque pop and psychedelic rock remains intact. Their innovative approach to music can be heard in the works of acclaimed bands such as The Kinks and many other bands like The Zombies that we’ve compiled in this list. Let’s start!

The Zombies by J-Ham2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. The Kinks

Founded by brothers Ray and Dave Davies, The Kinks rose to prominence in the 1960s as a highly influential British rock band. In their early years, they were known for their hard-edged guitar-driven rock and roll, combining elements of rhythm and blues with a healthy dose of psychedelia.

The band’s sound evolved throughout their career, incorporating elements of music hall, country, and even theatrical rock. Their discography includes iconic tracks like “You Really Got Me,” “Waterloo Sunset,” and “Lola,” showcasing their ability to create genre-crossing music that defied easy categorization.

Both The Zombies and The Kinks were part of the British Invasion, which refers to the wave of British bands that gained popularity in the US during the mid-1960s. The two bands also share a similar melodic pop-rock style, although The Kinks embraced a more raw and energetic approach to their music.

The Kinks, however, faced internal conflicts and struggled with commercial success in the latter part of their career, eventually leading to their dissolution in 1996. Nevertheless, their influence on rock music remains significant.

2. The Byrds

Known for pioneering and popularizing folk-rock music, The Byrds was an American rock band in the 1960s that solidified their place among bands such as The Zombies. Both shared a love for strong vocal harmonies and innovative musical approaches, which set them apart from other bands of that era.

The Byrds achieved mainstream success with their breakthrough hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Their folk-rock interpretation of Bob Dylan’s song became an anthem of the counterculture movement, reaching the top of the charts.

Not soon after, The Byrds carved their own unique style by incorporating elements of psychedelic rock into their music, as well as jangle pop, country rock, and raga rock. The distinctive sound of Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker guitar became one of their defining features.

As the 1960s came to an end, The Byrds experienced a decline in popularity and faced internal strife. Various members pursued solo careers, and the band underwent further lineup changes. Nevertheless, their impact on the music industry was lasting.

3. The Hollies

British rock band The Hollies is another notable band to include in this list. As one of the leading British groups at the time, they carved out a space for themselves alongside bands such as The Zombies and other influential British Invasion bands in the 1960s.

The band’s breakthrough came with their hit single “Bus Stop” in 1966. This infectious and melodic song showcased their signature pop-rock sound with a blend of folk-rock. They followed it up with a series of chart-topping hits, including “Stop Stop Stop” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Throughout their career, The Hollies maintained a consistent level of success, producing 22 Billboard Hot 100 tracks in the US alone. Their influence extended beyond the 1960s, as their music continued to inspire subsequent generations of musicians.

While some bands may fade into obscurity or struggle to recapture their earlier success, The Hollies have demonstrated resilience and the ability to evolve with the times. To this day, the band has remained active, showcasing their enduring passion for creating music.

4. The Beach Boys

Another band that shares similarities with The Zombies is The Beach Boys. Known for their surf and sun-soaked sound, The Beach Boys were also influential in the psychedelic-pop and rock music scene in the 1960s.

The Beach Boys’ early music was characterized by their lush vocal harmonies, often referred to as “surf harmonies,” and their catchy pop melodies. Songs like “Surfin’ USA,” “Surfer Girl,” and “California Girls” captured the carefree spirit of the beach culture and vibrant Californian lifestyle.

This ability to create catchy melodies is a shared characteristic between The Beach Boys and The Zombies. Both bands also ventured into more experimental and psychedelic territory in their music, often pushing the boundaries of traditional pop and rock music of their time.

With a career spanning an impressive six decades, the band remains an enduring symbol of American pop culture and continues to perform and inspire audiences with their timeless music.

5. The Yardbirds

Another British group, The Yardbirds, was a band from the 1960s known for their adventurous sound. Throughout their career, The Yardbirds boasted a lineup that included esteemed guitar virtuosos such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, each contributing their unique style.

The band’s sound was a unique fusion of blues and rock, defined by scintillating guitar solos. Like The Zombies, The Yardbirds embraced a spirit of creativity and artistic evolution, propelling them to the forefront of the burgeoning 1960s music scene. As such, they were also considered part of the British Invasion.

Their breakthrough hit, “For Your Love,” showcased their pop sensibilities, combining melodic hooks with Clapton’s iconic guitar work. However, Clapton left the band shortly after. As The Yardbirds faced more lineup changes and internal conflicts over the years, they disbanded in 1968.

However, in 1992, The Yardbirds experienced a remarkable resurgence when they reunited, allowing a new generation of music lovers to witness their craft. Beyond their reunion, The Yardbirds’ legacy remains firmly embedded in the fabric of rock history.

6. The Animals

Also known as Eric Burdon And The Animals, the British rock band The Animals is another group that was part of the 1960s British Invasion, much like The Zombies. Initially, their repertoire consisted primarily of rhythm and blues covers, a genre that heavily influenced their early musical style.

Led by the charismatic vocalist Eric Burdon, The Animals had a raw and soulful approach to their music. They were pioneers in fusing rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and a touch of gritty British Invasion energy to create their distinctive sound.

Their breakout hit, “House Of The Rising Sun,” in 1964, showcased their ability to create a haunting and unforgettable rendition of a traditional folk song. As The Animals evolved, they began incorporating original material into their discography, such as “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and “It’s My Life.”

Though their original lineup disbanded in 1966, The Animals’ music has endured over the years. Their contribution to the development of blues-infused rock music continues to be celebrated and appreciated by fans around the world.

7. Small Faces

Regarded as one of the most celebrated and influential mod groups of the era, Small Faces is an English rock band formed in 1965. Small Faces’ infectious fusion of R&B, soul, and rock also positioned them as early inspirations for the burgeoning Britpop movement.

Similar to The Zombies, Small Faces were among the many British bands that gained popularity in the American music scene during that time. Both bands also embraced the mod aesthetic in their style and performances, further
establishing their connection.

Small Faces’ breakthrough came with their debut single, “Whatcha Gonna Do About It,” which showcased their raw and energetic sound. They followed it up with hits like “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” and “All Or Nothing,” solidifying their place in the annals of rock history.

Despite their relatively short career, Small Faces’ influence on subsequent musical movements cannot be understated. In recognition of their contributions, Small Faces were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

8. Procol Harum

Following the dissolution of the British beat group The Paramounts, lead singer Gary Brooker formed the progressive rock band Procol Harum. Their music showcased a fusion of classical influences, bluesy undertones, and Brooker’s soulful vocals.

The band’s debut single, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale,” became an instant worldwide sensation and remains one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era. Procol Harum went on to release several other notable songs throughout their career, such as “Homburg,” “Conquistador,” and “Pandora’s Box.”

Procol Harum’s baroque and psychedelic pop leanings can be likened to The Zombies’ style. Both were also among the many British bands that swept across the music scene in the 1960s.

After their initial success in the late 1960s, the band went through various lineup changes and took breaks from recording and touring. Procol Harum regrouped in the mid-1980s and began releasing new music again. However, Brooker’s death in 2022 marked the end of the band, as they deemed him irreplaceable.

9. The Moody Blues

What began as a local gig group under the name M&B, The Moody Blues started as a rhythm and blues band, performing covers of popular songs. However, they struggled to find their footing in the highly competitive music industry.

Their breakthrough came when they underwent a significant lineup change and began to experiment with their sound. Incorporating elements of classical music and symphonic arrangements into their compositions, they created a unique sound that was also rooted in progressive and psychedelic rock.

Like The Zombies, The Moody Blues were part of the British Invasion of the 1960s, but they distinguished themselves with their approach to music. While many of their contemporaries focused on catchy melodies and straightforward rock and roll, The Moody Blues embraced a more expansive and artistic direction.

The Moody Blues solidified their place in music history with hits like “Nights In White Satin,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” and “Question,” among others. These songs became timeless classics, capturing the heart of listeners around the world.

10. The Pretty Things

Taking their name from the eponymous 1955 Bo Diddley song, The Pretty Things is a seminal British rock band that emerged during the height of the 1960s British Invasion.

Initially influenced by American blues and R&B, The Pretty Things quickly developed their own distinctive sound, blending gritty rock and roll with elements of psychedelia and proto-punk. Their music was characterized by their rebellious attitude and a willingness to experiment, much like The Zombies.

Their early singles, such as “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” showcased their raucous style and helped establish them as one of the leading bands in the burgeoning British rock scene. The band’s legacy extends beyond their own discography, as they influenced countless artists, including David Bowie.

They remained active in the music scene intermittently over the years. However, due to the deaths of several members and the health challenges of the remaining ones, The Pretty Things officially announced their retirement in 2018, shortly before lead singer Phil May’s passing.

11. The Spencer Davis Group

Named after its founder and primary songwriter, Spencer Davis, The Spencer Davis Group is a British rock band in the 1960s known for their blend of rhythm and blues, soul, and rock.

They achieved several chart hits both in the United Kingdom and the United States, including the songs “Keep On Running,” “Gimme Some Lovin’,” and “I’m a Man.” Their music was characterized by Steve Winwood’s powerful vocals and Hammond organ playing.

The band’s lineup underwent some changes over the years, with Steve Winwood leaving the group in 1967 to pursue a solo career. Despite the departure of Winwood, the Spencer Davis Group continued to release albums and perform with various musicians until they officially disbanded in 1974.

Similar to The Zombies, The Spencer Davis Group’s music had a significant impact on the British rock scene of the 1960s, and their soulful performances influenced many subsequent artists. Their songs remain popular and continue to be enjoyed by fans of classic rock and blues-rock music up to this day.

12. The Left Banke

Regarded as one of the pioneers of the baroque pop genre, The Left Banke was a 1960s pop band formed in New York City. The band’s music blended elements of psychedelic and baroque pop, further characterized by ornate arrangements, intricate melodies, and a touch of classical instrumentation.

The Left Banke’s breakthrough came in 1966 with their timeless hit single, “Walk Away Renée.” Building upon their initial success, the band released their critically acclaimed debut album, Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina, the following year.

However, despite their undeniable talent and creative prowess, internal conflicts and lineup changes plagued The Left Banke throughout their career. These challenges led to the band’s eventual dissolution in the early 1970s.

Nevertheless, their impact on the baroque pop genre endured. Their influence permeated through the works of artists such as Belle and Sebastian, The Zombies, and XTC, among others.

13. The Turtles

Going through a series of name changes during their formative years, this American rock band embarked on a musical evolution that led them to be known as The Nightriders, The Crossfires, The Tyrtles, and ultimately, The Turtles.

This name change not only led The Turtles to embrace folk rock but also opened the door for them to incorporate elements of psychedelic pop into their evolving musical palette. This blend of psychedelic pop and rock bears a striking resemblance to the timeless and influential style of The Zombies.

Formed in 1965, The Turtles achieved their breakthrough two years later with the hit song “Happy Together.” They’ve since produced several chart-topping hits since then, such as “Elenore” and ” You Showed Me.”

While The Turtles’ popularity was short-lived in terms of mainstream success, their songs possessed a timeless quality that transcended the era in which they were created, making them enduring favorites among music enthusiasts.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Similar To The Zombies

So there you have it! The Zombies were indeed a pioneering figure during the second wave of the British Invasion in the ’60s, alongside other bands mentioned in this list.

Whether you’re drawn to The Kinks’ raw energy, The Pretty Things’ edginess, The Beach Boys’ harmonies, or The Turtles’ pop sensibilities, you’ll find a wealth of captivating music that captures the essence of The Zombies’ style.

If you have more bands in mind that deserve a spot on this list, let us know! The music scene of that time was brimming with incredible talent, and there are certainly other noteworthy acts that could be included!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.