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We Were Zombies!
by Dennis Craswell
published April 2017



The Zombies, British Rock Band in the 1960s
Duane Eddy and the Rebels' .. "Rebel Rouser", Link Wray and his Ray Men's .. "Rumble", The Ventures' .. "Walk Don't Run" and Surf Music, pioneered by Dick Dale, was the style of instrumental Rock and Roll that was popular when we first formed The Castaways in the early 1960s. Then came Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Radio station DJ's stopped playing songs unless they included vocals.

We knew that we had to keep up with this evolution in order to follow our dreams of becoming a famous Rock and Roll band. There was only one problem, we had no microphone. Our guitarist, Dick Roby, said he thought there was a guy over on Oliver Street that had one. We all headed over to Roy Hensley's house to see if we could borrow his Shure 55 mic. Roy informed us that indeed he did have a microphone. He went on to explain that he was the only one who was allowed to use it. Thus enters singer, guitar player Roy Hensley as the newest Castaway.

After the success of our song, Liar Liar, in 1965 we began getting offers to open for bands of larger stature. One such gig was as the opening act for The Zombies who had recorded hits such as, She's Not There, Tell Her No and Time Of The Season.

We were excited to play this gig. We had been covering She's Not There, and we had gotten pretty good at it. So when the time came, we took the stage and played our hit, Liar Liar, and a full set of cover songs. As we came to the end of our allotted time I noticed a very panicky looking promoter at the side curtain giving us the "rolling" sign with his hands telling us to keep on playing.

Well he's the boss, so we kept on playing. Every time we would finish a song we could hear him whimpering loudly, "keep it going, keep it going." We played several more songs and now he's yelling, "DON'T STOP, DON'T STOP, KEEP ON PLAYING!" So we kept on playing. Finally we decided enough was enough and said, "Thank You and Good night."

We left the stage and found the promoter having a mental and physical meltdown. The crowd was stomping on the wooden floors and chanting "We want the Zombies, we want the Zombies." The only problem was that The Zombies had not shown up! The white faced, panic stricken promoter looked at us and shrieked, "You guys gotta be The Zombies! You have to go back out there and BE THE ZOMBIES! If you don't, this crowd will riot and tear the place apart."

Now I won't say what town this was, but if you remember a couple of gangs called The Greasers and The Baldies, you will understand that we knew that he was right! We had to do some quick thinking. Sure we knew The Zombies hits and were confident we could play them perfectly, but my God, this crowd had just seen us on stage for over an hour. How could we possibly pull off this farcical charade?

First, a costume change. Bob put on his furry vest, some John Lennon welding glasses and a fedora hat. The rest of us followed suit scrounging up whatever we could muster; jackets, vests, sunglasses, ascots etc. We switched instruments where possible, arranged ourselves in different positions and we took the stage as The Zombies.

In the most convincing English accent I have ever heard anyone mimic, Bob said, "Thank you very much" and we started right into She's Not There. The crowd was a screaming throng and we really thought "Hey, we're going to pull this off!"

We played every Zombies' song we knew and then covered other groups like The Beau Brummels, Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five and even some Rolling Stones. The crowd was going wild. I thought to myself, "my god, WE ARE The Zombies, The Zombies basking in all their glory".

Then came a reality check. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy creeping closer and closer to the front of the stage. I noticed he was holding an album cover which he would look at, then look up at us on stage. I began to get really nervous as he would point to the album cover and then point to each one of us on stage. Each time he did this he would shake his head no. I knew we had been busted. We were going to die, or at the very least we would be tarred and feathered. Sure enough, in a quiet moment between songs, this guy shouts as loud as possible, "YOUR NOT THE ZOMBIES!"

You could hear a pin drop in the deafening silence that followed. Then, once again in that inimitable British accent, Bob said something like "Of course we are you silly bloke" then we played She's Not There again as the closing song and left the stage.

We should have played "They're Not Here!" We did not stick around to see what would happen next. We "got outta Dodge" fast and alive. Once again, we should have been shot!