Randy Jackson: Zebra

Why You Should Know Him

The progressive hard rock band, Zebra, was founded in 1975 by drummer Guy Gelso, bassist/keyboards Felix Hanemann, and guitarist/keyboards/vocalist Randy Jackson. Jackson and the rest of Zebra started off in small Long Island clubs playing covers of Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, and Rush songs while developing their own unique voice, which subsequently launched their career.

When Jackson and the rest of the band released their first album, Zebra, in 1983, no one could have anticipated just how successful it would be. It quickly became the fastest selling debut album in Atlantic Records history at the time, and it swiftly achieved gold status thanks to hits including "Who's Behind the Door?" and "Tell Me What You Want." A string of fantastic records and more successful singles ensued, peaking artistically with 1986's must-own record, 3.V.

Zebra's "power trio" sound was rooted in progressive rock, but with a catchy pop-rock sensibility. Randy's use of 12-string acoustic guitar, layered with classic hard rock crunch, made for a huge and highly melodic style, while his lead work and truly soaring lead vocals, were tasteful and evolved.

The Gear

For an artist possessing an incredible gift of orchestration skills, deftly blending layers of acoustic and electric guitars with synthesizers, Jackson's gear was simple and to the point. He played a B.C. Rich Bich electric guitar (1980), a black Gibson Les Paul Custom (1976), and a Guild 12-string acoustic.

Amplification came from a Marshall JCM800, 100W head into a Marshall 1960A cabinet (Celestion G12T75). His effects outside of the studio were pretty lean, and Jackson mostly recalls making use of an MXR Distortion Plus distortion pedal and an Echoplex tape delay.

Where Is He Now?

After the band went on hiatus at the start of the next decade, Jackson launched his own solo act entitled Randy Jackson's China Rain and swiftly released one album under that name in 1993. He and the band later reunited in 1997 but did not release their most recent studio album, Zebra IV, until 2003.

In 2010, Zebra was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The Long Island Music Hall of Fame inducted the band soon after in 2012. Besides performing with Zebra to this day, Jackson has had no shortage of musical output to keep him busy. In 2014, he produced and engineered Empathy for the Walrus, on which he played all of the instruments and sang all the parts.

Later in the same year he recorded "What it Feels Like" with the band, Silvergun. Currently, he continues to play with Zebra and tours regularly. If you pay attention, you may also catch him at one of his many Randy Jackson Acoustic shows, or even performing tributes to Led Zepplin with a live symphony!

Back to the Top 40 Under-Appreciated Guitarists of the 1980s.

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