Zebra

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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4 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.

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