The Zombies on the ups and downs of more than five decades in rock 'n' roll

Hearing the first bars of a song by The Zombies can transport you right back to the 1960s. The band burst onto the music scene just after the Beatles and like the Fab Four, many of their songs have remained iconic long after they hit the top of the charts.

"We were taking influences from all this wide spectrum of music, which gave The Zombies a unique sound….Love us or loathe us, it did make us different," singer Colin Blunstone told CBS News' Anthony Mason.

The group came together in Hertfordshire, England, on Easter Sunday in 1961. They met at a pub. Rod Argent was putting together a band and Blunstone arrived for his audition with a rugby injury.

"And he'd broken his nose and he had two black eyes," recalled Argent. As Blunstone put it, he looked like a zombie.

Saturday Sessions: The Zombies perform "Time of the Season"

The Zombies became known for Blunstone's stirring vocals and Argent's searing keyboard solos.

"All night I would go up and down the keyboard like that and my thumb would be absolutely covered in blood," Argent said. Added Blunstone,"I used to gauge how well a gig had gone by how much blood there was on the ivory."

They had a run of influential hits in the U.S. but in 1967, just after completing their album, "Odessey and Oracle," they split because they weren't making any money. Blunstone went looking for another job and for a brief amount of time found himself in the insurance business.

"I worked in the burglary department which is just hysterical…And you have to remember, I knew nothing about insurance. I can't tell you when I answered the first phone call, I thought, my god, help me, please," Blunstone said.

Saturday Sessions: The Zombies perform "She's Not There"

Then, unexpectedly, their single "Time of the Season" soared to No. 1 in the states and Blunstone was coaxed back into the music business -- but not as a part of The Zombies. Argent was having success with his own new band and he and fellow Zombie Chris White co-produced Blunstone's early solo records.

"And so in many respects, we kept the team together but just changed the name," Blunstone said.

It would be 30 years before they played together again in 1999 when Blunstone needed a keyboard player.

"I called him out of the blue and I said, 'Look I've got six dates. What do you think?' And he came along, and that magic was still there," Blunstone said.

The Zombies have been together ever since, releasing three more albums. "Odessey and Oracle" is now ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.

"It sells more now every year than it ever did in its first incarnation," Argent said.

"I remember saying to Rod, we were walking along the road once and I said to him, 'You know, Rod, if we can keep this going for two years and we come out of this with 500 pounds each," Blunstone recalled. "You know, talk about ambition."