Granted, they weren’t even from New York, but that never stopped Long Islanders from adopting the band Zebra as one of their own. And, although they were little more than a cover band in the 70s, they were a damn popular one, and better things were lurking on the horizon for this rockin’ trio.

Zebra was formed in 1975, a power trio from Louisiana that many have likened to Led Zeppelin, probably due to the band’s fondness for Zep’s material, especially in the early years. Of course, it takes quite a singer to pull of Robert Plant, but frontman Randy Jackson not only had the falsetto range to mimic the legendary singer, but some formidable guitar skills to accompany his powereful vocals.

Meanwhile, bass and keyboard duties were covered by the multi-talented Felix Hanemann, while drummer Guy Gelso provided the hammering backbeat, along with a welcoming amount of finesse.


Zebra played their first Long Island gig in 1976, and soon became one of the top drawing acts on the island, playing regularly at places like Hammerheads, The Mad Hatter and Speaks. They got considerable promotional help from local radio station WBAB, who featured the band on the popular WBAB Homegrown album released in 1981.

During this time, record companies began to take notice, and the band would eventually sign with the Atlantic label. They released their first self-titled album in 1983, featuring a number of original tunes that were already well-known by their fans, songs such as “As I’ve Said Before,” “The La La Song,” “One More Chance” and what would become their biggest-selling song, “Who’s Behind the Door.”


The album sold well and the future looked bright for Zebra. Sadly, they failed to make much of an impact nationally, and although the band has released a number of albums over the years, all have failed to capture the popularity of their debut effort.

Still, Zebra has always known where home is, and they still play occasionally around the island. In 2010, they celebrated their 35th anniversary as a band by being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

But to many a Long Island rock and roll fan, Zebra will always be a shining example of the finest of homegrown talent, even if the band was always technically an import. It matters not; Long Islanders have always embraced Zebra as their own and that’s unlikely to change.

If you are a fan of this honorary Long Island band, we hope you’ll take a moment to share all of your Zebra memories with us in our comments section below.

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26 Responses

  1. Nick M says:

    Didn’t see anyone mention their best song ‘Take Your Fingers From My Hair.” We used to head over to Hammerheads in the late 70’s when I was in High School every time Zebra played. Mostly for the Zeppelin covers but then we got hooked on all their originals that wound up on that first album. First album was good but way to tame and over produced compared to the powerful live versions. Personally looking back the late 70’s was a great time to be in High School and kids today don’t really know how simple times were. No political correctness, you could smoke (many things) at concerts, no cell phones, no computers, no ambulance chaser legal commercials, very few divorces, and great muscle cars everywhere that today are “classics.” You could even tell off color jokes without having to go to sensitivity classes in school if you got caught telling one. And c’mon new releases every year from Kansas, Styx, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Boston (well almost every year), BTO, Meatloaf, Lynrd Skynard and remember The Good Rats! Also, blockubuster movies like Jaws, Saturday Night Fever, Grease–and Song Remains the Same all debuted. If we only knew how great a time that was as it was happening. A time and place that will never be again. I’m glad I grew up in the late 70’s!

  2. Pat Maas says:

    Zebra is a three piece musical powerhouse. As talented as they are musically gifted, they are all genuine, fun and a throw back to professionalism at its best. Three humble guys from Louisiana 40years ago took the stage at the Hatter in Stonybrook and tore it up. After that Tuesday night we put them in the rotation with Twisted, Stanton, Swiftkick and Rat Race. Congratulations!!!

  3. Donna says:

    I saw a Zebra and Twisted Sister concert at Hammerheads in the early 80’s! Fantastic!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in Baldwin and would watch them, Joan Jett and Twisted Sister going in and out of Nino Studios making great albums.

  5. Dan L. says:

    Whiskey Sours and Zebra at Hammerheads was a mainstay of my HS years. I distinctly remember seeing their album release party at a very crowded Hammerheads. I recall they also played a number of Rush tunes with the same precision of their Zeppelin covers. Great band, fun times.

    • D.Digg's says:

      Hammerheads…YES! Boat shaped bar…I remember it well. Saw Zebra there, Good Rats, Twisted Sister, and many more. Eats after the show at the Peter Pan Diner…God I miss those days.

  6. Janet Haight says:

    I had seen Zebra perform at a popular (at the time) local bar on Rte 231 in Deer Park,N.Y. across from Walfbaums Shopping Center in the early 90s and I can not for the life of me remember the name of the bar. I have asked several friends to help recall the places name and no one can remember the name,however they remember going. Can anyone help?

  7. Anonymous says:

    It was called Cheers : )

  8. Tish says:

    STILL ♥️ them!!!

  9. Scott Essman says:

    I was a junior in high school when their first album came out. Living in Plainview, we knew that Long Island claimed them as their own, even though they were really from Louisiana. I loved every note on that first album. Fantastic! Then, I scored very good floor seats at Nassau Coliseum on Nov 20, 1983 – they opened for Loverboy! Most of America on that night was at home watching the nuclear nightmare film “The Day After,” but my friends and I celebrated the triumph of a local band playing the Coliseum. I saw them several times afterwards at clubs on Long Island – I believe I saw them at Key Largo on the south shore in Suffolk County. They played material at those shows that never made it onto any of the first three albums, which were all superb. When I lived in Western Upstate NY, I played cuts from the first two albums on my radio show “Not Fragile” for WEOS-FM. Sadly, when I permanently relocated to California in Dec 1989, I never again saw them live, but I have continued to play those first three magical albums throughout the last 30 years.

  10. Joseph B Weeks says:


  11. Jim Bunch says:

    Still remember my Summer on Long Island and at NYSE in 1980, all the great shows, especially Hammerhead’s. Man, that was the place! Not sure whatever happened to my cowboy hat that Felix liked but this Vegas kid will always cherish the memories.

  12. Steve says:

    Zebra used to play on Christmas Eve at the mad hatter for a few years that was a great time

  13. Jayne says:

    They used to play our old club, Cheers, all the time. Great band.

  14. Bobby Cox says:

    I saw zebra at hammerheads in 80 or early 81 and at a wbab festival in Islip in 83 . I remember riding the train back to Manhattan with some of the band members . really cool time .

  15. Anonymous says:

    I remember riding the train back to Manhattan from a WBAB music festival in Islip in 1983 with a bunch of the musicians on board . Rockin and Rollin on the LIRR .

  16. Anonymous says:

    No mention of the Clipper … Solomon Grundys Clipper in bayshore …. Shame

  17. Tommy says:

    It was Cheers I believe.

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