“We're always really excited when we play in St Albans because that’s where the band began,” Colin Blunstone tells me, lead singer of 1960s band The Zombies.

St Albans is where the five founding members met, but it seems Watford is where they found their feet.

Following the news that The Zombies will perform a rare acoustic piano and vocal concert within the hallowed ancient Nave of St Albans Cathedral, Patrick Stoddart contacted the Watford Observer with a surprise revelation.

“I was a young reporter on the paper when the whole Sixties music scene erupted and in the wave of enthusiasm for the Mersey Beat I wrote a feature headlined Is there a Watford Sound?

“The Town Hall’s entertainment manager launched a beat contest to find out. There were eight bands competing on consecutive Sundays, with judges including minor pop stars, people from record companies and me. Easily the best band – we called them groups back then – were these five very young lads from St Albans, The Zombies. They were all about 17 or 18 and wondering whether to go to university or try their luck at music.”

The story doesn’t end there, in fact it ends with the creation of perhaps their most infamous hit, She’s Not There.

“As it happened I’d just written a feature about a recording studio in Rickmansworth run by two brothers, John and Malcolm Jackson, the sons of a then-famous DJ called Jack Jackson. They had asked me to keep an ear out for anyone a bit special so even before the contest was over I invited The Zombies to put down some tracks, one of which was She’s Not There, which in true rock and roll fashion they finished off in the back of the van on the way to the studio,” Patrick tells me, almost unbelievably but Colin confirms it, telling me he “remembers it vividly”.

Generations of new bands have cited The Zombies’ work as pop touchstones, including such artists as Neko Case and Nick Cave who have recorded She’s Not There for the popular HBO series True Blood but ironically, the group broke-up in 1968 just before achieving huge success with the chart-topping single Time of the Season, from their swan-song album Odessey & Oracle – recently ranked number 97 by Mojo and number 100 by Rolling Stone in their Greatest Albums of All Time lists.

“The world was a much bigger place then,” Colin explains. “You didn’t know what was going on around the world. In those days there was no internet and you didn’t know what was going on in other countries.”

Unaware of their international popularity the five of them parted ways, only for the band’s success to continue without its members. I wondered if they had had any regrets.

“I don’t think regrets is the right word, I think the others never looked back. I would be intrigued to have known what we might have done next, that is how I feel about it but you can never go back.”

Lucky for Colin, however, is the continued interest in The Zombies.

“Rod Argent and I got together to play six concerts in 1999,” he said. “I think Both of us thought our days of playing live were over but we enjoyed it so much and got a good reaction.

“There was no thought of rejoining, we didn’t even play many Zombies’ tunes. Those six concerts have grown into nearly 20 years of playing. We have realised there is a worldwide interest in The Zombies, it was a surprise to us. People were always asking about the band, they encouraged us to play more and more Zombies’ tunes. Some that we had recorded quickly years ago and never played live. Some of the songs we play are really obscure B-sides.”

Colin reunited with writer and keyboardist Rod Argent in 2000 with a new Zombies line-up, which has now come full circle with the October 2015 release of Still Got That Hunger.

The band will now return to St Albans on Friday, October 21, with a guest string quintet, for an intimate evening of music spanning their five-decade careers, a year after releasing their latest album, Still Got That Hunger.

St Albans Cathedral, St Albans, AL1 1BY, Friday, October 21. Details: 01727 890290