On this day in music history: December 19, 1964 -

 “Tell Her No” by The Zombies is released. Written by Rod Argent, it is the second US (third UK) single for the pop band from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK. Having scored a hit out of the box in their native England with their debut single “She’s Not There” (#12 UK) which goes on to be even bigger in the US (#2 Pop), The Zombies UK label Decca Records contemplate what should be the follow up. 

The group want their second release to be “Tell Her No”, also penned by keyboardist Rod Argent. The song thematically follows the previous one, with the narrative being about a man suspicious that his girlfriend is about to cheat on him with one of his friends, he goes to him and tells his friend to resist her advances. The word “no” is actually repeated a total of sixty five times in the single running only 2:05. 

The band agree that it is as hit, but their producer Ken Jones and executives at their label prefer a song titled “Leave Me Be” to be their second UK single. 

In spite of the bands’ objections it’s released in August of 1964, and immediately flops. With “She’s Not There” becoming a smash on the other side of the Atlantic, and not wanting to make the same error, “Tell Her No” is released in the US first (on Decca subsidiary Parrot Records) just a week after their first hit peaks in the charts. The move proves to be a wise one, as the single quickly enters the Billboard Hot 100 on January 9, 1965 at #81. An instant classic featuring lead singer Colin Blunstone’s pleading tenor voice, it peaks at #6 on the Hot 100 on February 27, 1965. Surprisingly, when “Tell Her No” is released in the UK a few weeks after its American release, it stalls at #42 on the UK singles chart. “No” is covered by a number of artists over the years, including versions by Smith (“Baby It’s You”) in 1969 and Juice Newton (#27 Pop) in 1983.