Zager and Evans was a US rock-pop duo of the late 1960s and early 1970s named after its two members, Denny Zager (born 1944, Wymore, Nebraska) and Rick Evans (born 1943, Lincoln, Nebraska). They are best known for their 1969 hit single "In the Year 2525".
Zager and Evans met at Nebraska Wesleyan University, in 1962 and they were joined by drummer Danny Schindler (later of the Benders) in the seminal Nebraska band the Eccentrics, until Schindler's tour of Vietnam in 1965. Evans also left in 1965, and reunited with Denny Zager in 1968.
As Zager and Evans, the duo were backed by Mark Dalton, also a Nebraska native, on bass. Their first drummer, Paul Maher, was later replaced by another Nebraskan, Dave Trupp. Trupp and Dalton were also the rhythm section in the popular Liberation Blues Band and backed Evans on some solo demo material prior to Zager and Evans's recording of "In the Year 2525" in 1968.
"In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)" was written by Richard (Rick) S. Evans. It was registered with the performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. The song warned of the dangers of technology, portraying a future in which the human race was destroyed by its own technological and medical innovations. The last stanza of the song suggests mankind undergoes a continuing cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
"In the Year 2525" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. It claimed the No.1 spot for six weeks. It also topped the charts in the UK. It was No. 1 on July 20, 1969, in the United States, the date of the first manned moon landing, by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It continued to top the charts while the Woodstock Music Festival was going on. It was nominated for a special Hugo Award that same year. It sold over four million copies by 1970 and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in July 1969.
The song was originally written in 1964 and recorded and released in 1968 on the Truth Records label. After radio stations in Lincoln and Omaha turned the record into a regional "break-out" hit record, RCA Records signed the duo and rereleased the song nationwide. They also immediately recorded a follow-up album of the same name, again using Trupp and Dalton as the primary rhythm section. Sales of the original hit recording (including singles sales, album usage and compilation inclusions) now total over 10 million units worldwide. The B-side of the original single was "Little Kids", also written by Evans.
Despite the record's massive success, follow-up singles such as "Mr. Turnkey" (a song about a rapist who nails his own wrist to the jail wall as punishment for his crime) went largely unnoticed by the public. "In the Year 2525" was their only Hot 100 entry and sole hit in the U.K. also.
In Australia, "In The Year 2525" reached No.2, with "Mr. Turnkey"/"Cary Lynn Javes" (double A-side) reaching No.86 and "Help One Man Today" reaching No.94 on the RCA label.
After the success of "2525", White Whale Records released a record titled The Early Writings of Zager & Evans and Others, featuring recordings of the Eccentrics on side one and J.K. and Co. (a band with no connection to Zager & Evans) on side two. After releasing two albums on RCA, Zager and Evans moved to Vanguard Records in 1971 for a final record.
Rick Evans would later release an album for Truth Records titled I Need This Song where he duetted with a singer named Pam Herbert. In the late 70s he formed his own label, Fun Records, and released an album titled Fun Songs, Think Songs containing both new material and rerecordings of Zager & Evans material.
Zager now builds custom guitars at Zager Guitars, which is based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Evans has largely stayed out of the public eye, but resurfaced for some online commentaries about "2525" and his recent life in 2013.
|Year||Album||Billboard 200||Record Label|
|1969||2525 (Exordium & Terminus)||30||RCA Victor|
|The Early Writings of Zager & Evans and Others||–||White Whale Records|
|1970||Zager & Evans||–||RCA Victor|
|1971||Food for the Mind||–||Vanguard Records|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Record Label||B-side||Album|
|1969||"In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)"||1||1||1||2||RCA Victor||"Little Kids"||2525 (Exordium & Terminus)|
|"Mr. Turnkey"||106||–||–||86||"Cary Lynn Javes"||Zager & Evans|
|"Listen to the People"||–||–||–||–||"She Never Sleeps Beside Me"|
|1970||"Help One Man Today"||–||–||–||94||"Yeah 3 2"|
|"Crutches"||–||–||–||–||"Plastic Park"||Zager & Evans|
|1971||"Hydra 15,000"||–||–||–||–||Vanguard Records||"I Am"||Food for the Mind|