Zal Cleminson Sin Dogs
Zal Cleminson was a member of two of Scotland's most famous rock bands of the '70s but he fell out of love with the music scene.
As he celebrates his 70th birthday, the former Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) and Nazareth guitarist is back on stage and louder than ever.
Zal has been playing music since he was a schoolboy in Glasgow in the early '60s, playing in a band called Bo-Weevil. For SABH, there was UK top 10 and top 40 chart success with hits that included Faith Healer, The Boston Tea Party and a cover version of Tom Jones' Delilah. They also secured coveted slots on popular TV music shows The Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops.
Zal would also find personal fame for wearing mime artist make-up during SAHB performances. His look was inspired by Marcel Marceau, a famous French actor and mime artist. "Alex Harvey had a talent for bringing out our personalities on stage," says Zal. "With me he saw something theatrical and wanted to find a way of making the faces that I would pull during performances more obvious to audiences. First we tried putting luminous green sticker dots on my face. But Alex had great connections with theatre, including Richard O'Brien of the Rocky Horror Show, and it was through that the final look came from".
After playing with Nazareth in the late 1970s and early '80s, Zal worked as a session guitarist with singer-songwriter and former Marillion lead singer Fish, also Elkie Brooks, Bonnie Tyler and Midge Ure. In the 1990s, SABH was reassembled, without Alex who had died in 1982. But Zal later decided to retire from music after becoming unhappy performing old hits, and not trying new material. Describing himself as being "disillusioned" with the music industry, he stepped away from the scene for 10 years.
In 2017, Zal formed his heavy metal band sin'dogs with David Cowan on keyboards, guitarist William McGonagle, bass player Nelson McFarlane and Carlos Marin on drums. First they made an album, and then gigs and small tours followed. This month will see the band play venues in Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, before an appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival in June. Their support acts include young, upcoming Inverness-based band Monsters in the Ballroom.