ZEBRA Uncovered

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Clear your calendar and reserve your tickets!

Zebra is finally back to BB Kings this Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Copyright 2010 Heather Lefort

Are you familiar with these New Orleans turned Long Island musicians? If you answered yes you might want to re-think that one… Read below to get more acquainted with these down to earth, talented musicians.  Find out which Zebra member made his Dad cry during his solo, what Zebra member would love a dream gig on American Idol, and what Astro-Physics really has to do with it all!

RJ= Randy Jackson: Lead vocals, songwriter, and lead guitarist
FH= Felix Hanemann: bass, keyboards and backing vocals
GG= Guy Gelso: drums, percussion, and backing vocals

When did you know music was your life?

RJ= I knew it was what I wanted to do when my parents took me and my brother to see the Beatles at City Pak stadium in New Orleans in 1964. I don’t think I “knew” it could be my life until about 1979 when Zebra starting to make enough money to support us all.

FH= I knew that music would be my life by the time I was in junior high school.

GG=  Seeing Jimi Hendrix live did me in. I was hooked and wanted to play drums forever. His drummer, Mitch Michell died recently and it felt like I lost a family member. Also when The Beatles Sgt Pepper album came out I was floored. I never have experienced music as deep as that album since.

Did you ever want to do anything else? What?

RJ= I majored in Physics in college and I would have probably pursued that path if music had not worked out. I still follow all the latest discoveries on particle physics and Astro-Physics. It is kind of a hobby for me.

FH=Yes, I was also very active in acting in plays and musicals

GG=  Wanted to do many things, but never was good at anything but drums, so drums it is!!

When was the first time you showcased your talent for an audience?

RJ= 4th grade at Jean Gordon Elementary School. My brother Keven and I had a band along with our friend John Deters and we performed an original song and “Boys” by the Beatles for the talent show at the school.

FH= I sang Silent Night at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at my church when I was 10 yrs old!

GG=  1969 in a club in Lake Tahoe, NV. The band’s drummer quit on them and they asked if I would fill in. I played all week with them. I was awful, but their drummer was worse, so nobody noticed, except me.

If you could have a “Dream Gig” where would it be and why?

RJ=  The Beatles at Carnegie Hall with the London Philharmonic. I get to pick the songs and run the sound!!

FH= Well there would be two situations that would be my “dream” gigs. The first one would be to head line a “sold out” show at Madison Square Garden, and the second one would be to have Zebra perform on American Idol

GG=  I could think of many dream gigs, but I will stick to the one that I know I could handle. Turns out Jimi Hendrix has been living in Europe all these years and he wants to come out of retirement and do a world wide tour, and calls me to play drums…if your going to dream, dream big!!!

Your career in music has taken you many places. What is your favorite memory of a shining moment for you?

RJ= For me it was the 35th Anniversary shows we did in Long island and New Orleans in 2010.

FH= The most recent one was where we performed at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans for our 35th anniversary show and we were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame! That was pretty special.

GG=  San Francisco Cow Palace with Sammy Hager. Sold out 2 nights, 40,000 people.

My dad was there and he was crying during my drum solo. We are an emotional bunch the Gelso’s

Do you ever wish you had another talent in the band? (i.e. Like Randy playing drums or Guy going mad hatter on the microphone)

RJ= Dancing ?? I can’t dance at all and it would definitely be “uncharted” waters for Zebra!!

FH=Yea, I wish I could play guitar as good as Randy. It would be fun to just be able to wail like that!

GG=  No, I think we each have our place pretty well down. No need to mess up a good thing.

If you could go back in time and change anything in your music career what would it be?

RJ= I would have focused more on music theory while I was in college!

FH= Wow, what a question! I’m not sure how to answer that one.

GG= I would have liked to have been a working drummer in the London, England scene during the ’60 when all the great English bands were around. Yardbirds, Jeff Beck Group, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and a ton of smaller relatively unknown bands that put out great albums during that period.

Do you collect anything (other than instruments)?

RJ= I used to collect Mardi Gras Doubloons (coins) when I was a kid but I haven’t done any other collecting unless you count all my old computers!

FH= I collect art and animals, not necessarily in that order.

GG=  Movies, Movies, Movies…I love them.

If you could pick one saying that you live by what would it be?

RJ= Don’t take life to seriously!!

FH= be cool

GG=  Treat people the way you would like to be treated and don’t expect anything back. Great words that I sometimes fail at, but at least I try.


What can Long Island fans expect from Zebra next?

RJ= New music in 2012!!

FH= We have a couple of nice gigs coming up pretty soon. BB Kings in NYC on May 21st and the Zep Fest on May 28th in Washington DC . We’re supposed to be doing The Joey Reynolds TV show on MSNBC, which is a late night show on May 19th. I don’t think we have any projects such as any recordings or videos coming up any time soon.

GG=  35 years and counting…we are not going anywhere. Just more Zebra and hopefully a new album soon.

Describe your favorite playlist on your iPod·

RJ= Close to the Edge and repeat!!!

FH= Beatles, Traffic, Stones, Dylan, Bob Marley, Journey & Bonnie Raitt. That’s about it

GG=  Joe Satriani, Steps Ahead (great jazz fusion), Eric Clapton, anything by Jeff Beck, Soundgarden, anything by Collective Soul

If you won the lotto tomorrow what would you do with the money?

RJ= Buy a new computer and travel for a while!

FH= The first thing I’d do is buy a really nice house in New Orleans and a really nice convertible

GG=  Commute to Zebra gigs from my Caribbean island from my townhouse on the bay.

Who are your musical heroes?

RJ= Yes for the music, Moody Blues for the lyrics, Zeppelin for the musicianship, Beatles for the inspiration!

FH= Pretty much whose on my iPod, but you can add Zep and The Moody Blues to that

GG= Drummers…Simon Phillips, Vinnie Calauta, Mitch Michell.

Bands…Jeff Beck Group, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

RJ= “Listen more than you talk” and “be forgiving!”

FH= I’m still waiting for it

GG=   My dad…calm down, relax, take a breath. Got me through many a nerve-racking gig.


What’s the best advice you could offer an aspiring musician?

RJ= You should ONLY get into it if you love music. If you aren’t satisfied playing your music by yourself with no audience then you shouldn’t get into it. Don’t do it for the money, fame or anything else except the music. You have a much better chance of winning the lottery than “making it”.

FH= Keep at it, but make sure you a have a plan “B”, ’cause pride don’t pay no bills.

GG=  Play with conviction and be your own best critic. You don’t have to be the best musician to succeed, but if you try and make every note matter, no matter how simple, people will notice. Same with song writing. Listen with an objective ear to what you wrote.

Also, learn the business end of music, which in a nutshell is network with people…

Do you think anyone with garage band can be a star these days?

RJ= Anyone who “really” knows how to operate Garage Band (read the manual) and can write songs certainly has a shot!

FH= I think anything can happen in the music business. I think it’s an equal opportunity business. That’s why a truck driver from Tupelo Mississippi can be the King of Rock N Roll!

GG=  I have yet to hear anything that made it big that did not have something about it that was great, even if I didn’t agree with it, so the answer is…you have to have the talent or the people around you with the talent to succeed in the business.

If you could take a holiday tomorrow, where would you go & what would you do?

RJ= Anywhere my wife feels like going as long as we don’t have to drive. I’m pretty easy!

FH= Paris France, the Louvre

GG=  Probably to Europe. I want to get a rail pass and just travel Europe and stop wherever it takes me.

What’s your favorite quote from a song, book, or someone?

RJ=  “We’ll fix it in the mix”

FH=  Her name was Magill, but she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy. You can’t beat that!

GG=  Just show up and do your best and forget the rest…Tony Horton, creator of the P90X fitness programs. This is a great saying for musicians!

Copyright 2010 Heather Lefort

Any fan who has experienced ZEBRA at BB King’s can tell you – it’s live, it’s loud, and completely entertaining. The magic in the air for their bonus Zep set makes it clear to anyone in the room. You can see exactly why Zebra has grabbed the hearts of so many loyal fans throughout the years.  Zebra is not just a show but also a get together amongst their fan community!

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Showing 6 comments
  • Sue Ambrogi

    I never knew Randy liked Yes so much. As a kid growing up Yes was my favorite band followed by Zep. I would love to hear Randy do some acoustic Yes!!!!!

  • Ray O'mara

    Great job Heather…..You need to write for Rolling Stone….Someday…

  • Vinny Manchise

    Absolutely outstanding Heather. Great job and great reading. I saw Zebra for the 1st time in 1978 and many times since and never knew all that about them. They are so down to earth and so good at what they do.

    We will be @ BB Kings Saturday night and can’t wait. That’s one venue neither Carlene nor I have ever seen Zebra so we are psyched. Looking forward to seeing you and the band. Great writing with this article. You are really talented.

  • Pete Curto

    Good job Heather! Everyone knows people into Astro-physics can’t dance! I can’t wait to hear this new album:)

  • Carolyn

    I agree with Ray You need to write for Rolling Stone! You are great! Loved all the inside information! Keep it coming… I remember the first time I seen Zebra was in the late 70’s I believe Zebra opened for Aerosmith at the nassau coliseum. Zebra Rocked the House! Seen Randy down here in Florida this past year (2010) and he was GREAT!!!!

  • Anne Paone

    Luv it Heather really enjoyed it!!! Thanks for insight… great questions 🙂

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