Other than Randy Jackson I cannot tell you who else plays in the rock band…Zebra. Randy is our adopted rock n roll elder star. I can only assume he has lived on Long Island for more than thirty years. He has played in many venues…all sizes…throughout the island. I’ve seen him years ago at an Islander home opener, but was more excited to see Joan Jett who came onto the stage after Randy. She looked incredible and kicked Randy’s ass. But this is not a competitive essay. No, this is just a few thoughts which occurred while I watched Zebra who celebrated their 40th anniversary at the Patchogue theater.
You may be wondering out there, what would possess me to see Zebra? It was the night before Thanksgiving and tickets were cheap. I have written about them in this blog, more specifically when I wrote about WBAB and how they may be the only station who plays Zebra. I walked into the lobby in the theater and waited to buy a ticket. A stranger walked up to me and said, “Looking for a ticket?” I looked at him, “I was going to buy a nose bleed.” Here come with me he said and pulls out some tickets. For $20 I sat ten rows from the stage. Who cares, it’s Zebra.
But first a little background. I remember when I was in high school and spent my lunch breaks playing music in our intercom, but we referred to it as WNPT. I would generally play the music I liked (New Age & Punk) and would ignore the metal heads although one show which I had was the Mike and Mike show. Mike Abrahamson who I understand had passed years ago (RIP Mike) and he would play metal and I would play my music. It was a popular show. We had requests and one of the bands which was frequently requested was Zebra. Tell me what you want, was the one song we would cave in and play. Maybe it was their other hit, whose behind the door. I was not a fan.
The Zebra story is an example of hard work and being tenacious as well as having a legion of fans who came out that night in Pathchogue. I will add they are a talented group. Randy had mentioned during the concert that he was grateful for their fans who came out regularly to see them in the clubs before they had a record. He mentioned Hammerheads which was a club on Long Island as well as other clubs. He mentioned former managers as well as the one an only DJ on Long Island at that time: Bob Buchmann from WBAB. It was Bob who influenced Atlantic Records to sign them. The fans cheered. One drunk yelled out, We love Zebra and the bass player non nonchalantly mumbled in his mic, we love… Long Island. Oh, such sincerity. The rock stars recognized their fans. The fans cheered and Zebra in the middle aged splendor and dare I say spandex...rocked...on.
I’m curious what kind of fans Randy brings out when he plays at the small venues on Long Island. I think most of his fans were inside the theater that night, although their faces were older and hair thinner more wrinkles and heavier, some acted as if they were still 16. Trying to sneak beers in. I saw one idiot get kicked out after he was warned a few times.
This was the WBAB crowd who hated new wave music and would rarely go into the foreboding Manhattan, well maybe to see Rockafella Centa.
So what did the rock band do? How did they make it? They played to the audience where their audience lived. The music sounded the same. There was the drum solo and guitar solos, the acoustic set, the poses, the rock stars were under the lights. For moments during the show, if you closed your eyes you might have been able to pretend you too were back in 1983...the music sounded sharp and Randy was...Randy, but more important the beers you sucked down that night did not have an effect on your expanding belly or your round buttocks.
Thank you for reading this.