Malibooz revive British Invasion with new album

The Malibooz’ John Zambetti (center, above), wasn’t afraid to pull out all the stops — including his wife’s good cooking and a trip to the beach in his 1941 Ford woodie station wagon —to persuade Quarrymen members Colin Hanton, Len Gary and Ron Davis to take part in The Malibooz’ new album “Queen’s English.” Photo courtesy www.malibooz.net

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Malibooz never rode off entirely into the sunset. The band just went through some on-again, off-again periods since 1964.

In 2010, it’s on again for The Malibooz, who released “Queen’s English,” the band’s first CD of new music in eight years. As you might guess from the title, the album pays homage to the music of the 1960s British Invasion, along with special guests Donovan, Spencer Davis, The Hollies’ Tony Hicks, Chad & Jeremy, Andrew Loog Oldham, Nokie Edwards, The Shadows’ Mark Griffiths, Ian Whitcomb and The Troggs’ Richard Moore. You can find out more about the band at its Web site, www.malibooz.net. In this installment of “Where Are They Now,” guitarist and co-leader John Zambetti share’s the story of how “Queen’s English” came to be, in his own words.

•••••

By John Zambetti

Members of The Malibooz celebrated the band’s 40th anniversary in 2004 by performing at their old high school in New York City and then going to Liverpool, England, for a performance at The Cavern Club and at BBC Merseyside.
I decided we should play our 1964 set list (which I still have). On first perusal, I noticed that it was laden not only with Brit Invasion tunes of the day, but several Brit-inspired originals. And why not? We were big fans of the genre, having caught most of the British bands live when they first hit New York. I saw The Beatles at Forest Hills Stadium (a year before Shea Stadium), The Rolling Stones’ first show at Carnegie Hall (pre-“Satisfaction,” it was half filled), multiple Dave Clark Five concerts, as well as the ever-astounding Murray the K Brooklyn Fox shows, featuring huge laundry lists of diversified acts that included The Kinks, The Zombies, The Searchers, etc.

A VERY YOUTHFUL MALIBOOZ lineup appears in this vintage shot from the 1960s that was featured in the “Malibooz Rule” package. Photo courtesy www.malibooz.net

When The Malibooz finally got around to recording our first full LP for Rhino in 1981, we concentrated on our surf roots and laid down many of the tunes we had written in the ’60s, but they were only the surf tunes. It seemed a shame that these other early originals wouldn’t see the light of day.

Thus, the idea for this album was born. The flip-side of our 1965 single “Goin’ To Malibu” was the Walter Egan-penned, Brit-inspired “That’s A Lie.” We had performed it at our TV appearance at the 1965 World’s Fair in Queens, New York). That’s when the show’s host made the remark, “You boys play everything from surf music to the English sound. What’s the difference?” Yes, indeed, what was the difference? Well, I made short work of that in my reply, but the reality was 40 years later, we hadn’t realized those tunes.

On July 4, 2008, Donovan was visiting L.A. and stopped by my house. He hadn’t seen my new studio, and when he did, he immediately said, “We should record something together here.” That was all I needed; we’d do our long-overdue Brit Invasion album and have some of the original “invaders” join us.

I contacted a record executive friend who had many contacts with ’60s musicians. I told him about my planned project and asked if he would set up some introductions for me. His response was, “What’s in it for them?” It had never occurred to me that my fellow ’60s musicians would not be as enthusiastic as I was and just do it for the fun of it. Sometimes, being naïve about the impossibility of the project you’re about to embark on is the most crucial factor in securing its success!

Leave a Reply