ZINATRA

Country Netherlands

Style AOR
PhotobucketWell it started all somewhere in the period 1986/86 when Ron Lieberton helped songwriter Arnie Treffers (Kelly) out, recording his material in Denmark. Arnie was running a Chinese restaurant in Alborg, Denmark at the time. He was once very successful in the seventies with his band “Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers” and was responsible for many major hits with his band. It was back then that the idea was born, to actual put up a “Rock Band” together so that they could actually perform live, the repertoire of material they were working on.

Manager Bert Van Klaveren, the ex-Vandale vocalist and one of Ron’s friend liked the material and the idea to put up a band together for this. He decided to join in and approached former Vandale drummer Eddy Rokx, guitarists Gino Rerimassie and Sebastian Floris and vocalist Joss Mennen. And “Zinatra” was born! In 1987 the recording for the first album started. It was producer Erwin Musper who scouted the band and manged to establish a special deal for the guys in Wiseloord studios, where they could record their first album during any spare time that was available. So the band ended up, working alongside major acts like Queensryche and Def Leppard while creating their debut album. The atmosphere was superb as there where no limits as regarding time or money. And even Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen joined in on the act, by doing a solo on “Feather in the Wind”.

The first Zinatra album was released on PolyGram/Wisseloord’s NT label, together with the first single “Love or Loneliness” which was picked up by the Dutch National Radio and became a big hit in the charts. Promotion-wise everything was planned very carefully. The band didn’t do any “live” shows before the actual release of the album. So nobody had ever heard of the band when the record was released in the summer of 1988.

The very first gig was broadcasted live via the National Radio during the legendary radio show “Countdown Café” with Kees Baars and Alfred Lagarde. The upcoming months the band did only a handful of small club-shows before they hit the road supporting “David Lee Roth’s Skyscraper Tour”, which brought the band into all the big events in the whole of Europe. Things went very fast for Zinatra “Love or Loneliness” became a moajor hit in the charts. This was closely followed up by successful single released of “Somewhere” and “Looking for Love”.
PhotobucketThe band showed up on almost every possible TV program and radio-show, and their fan base was growing rapidly. For Sebastian Floris it became all too much and due to health problems he was forced to leave Zinatra.

For the band it felt like loosing a member of the family. The decision wasn’t made lightly, but they all decided that they would carry on as a four piece band. During 1989 Zinatra was approached by Phillips to support and promote their “Moving on Sound” campaign Worldwide. It was all about fashionable portable “ghetto-blasters” and “Walkmans”. “Looking for Love” was transposed into “Moving on Sound” and the band went on tour in South-Asia, co-sponsored by KLM. There were Beatlesque scenes at airports, gigs at fully packed clubs, TV and radio appearances. Zinatra became rock stars! Just back from their Asia-adventure, the band flew to South America were the madness was ever bigger. “Hero” became a No.1 hit in the charts and the band did an open-air headliner show in front of 50.000 crazy rock-fans in Montevideo, Uruguay. Back home it was hard to get back on earth again. The band had to focus on a new album.

In Denmark the first preparations took place. Together with Arnie Treffers, the first new songs became a fact. In 1989 during a demo-session with engineer Atti Bauw at Wisseloord studios the guys of Zinatra first met keyboard-player Robby Valentine. He was introduced to the band by the management as being a new band-member. This was a very strange situation for the band as it was also Robby, because nobody in Zinatra had been informed about this beforehand. Robby became an important songwriter for Zinatra after all but always stayed somehow an outsider.

Producer Erwin Musper came up with material from Paul Laine. Paul’s songs fitted perfectly into the Zinatra style. And that’s how the final track list of the album turned out to be a pleasant mix of all the writers involved and where Arnie’s part became less important. The Great Escape came out spring ’90 together with the first single “There She Was”. There was a video going out with this single too, shot especially for NCRV’s “Paperclip” which was one of the most popular music-programs on Dutch TV at that time. A tour followed.
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And the band went on the road with their biggest stage production ever. Though the album was received very well everywhere, especially in Japan, the band had to face the problem, that there was a wind of change going through the musical climate. There was a new trend ahead: Grunge, which made it very hard for bands like Bon Jovi, Europe and also Zinatra to survive. It was also in this difficult period, that Phillips decided to change their sponsor-policy and stopped the co-operation with the band. There was only one light at the end of the dark tunnel of the band was sucked into: The States!

There were some positive chances for the band to get something going over there. An American management even visited the band in the Netherlands to talk about all this. That’s when a period of waiting and nothing but waiting started. Preparations for leaving for the U.S. were made but nothing happened. No concrete deals were signed, so… In the meantime, Robby Valentine had signed a deal with Polydor, for his first solo-project.

It was in Japan especially, where Zinatra had created a very good start-position for him, and this finally made him leave Zinatra. Also for singer Joss Mennen it took all too long for things to be arranged and so he decided to go ahead and leave too. Upon his departure he put together his own band :Mennen”. Just for a short while, the band tried to continue with a new vocalist but this didn’t work out. That’s how the final end of Zinatra became a fact.

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– Zinatra [1988]
– The Great Escape [1990]

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