Zal Cleminson

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Zal Cleminson
Background information
Birth name Alistair Macdonald Cleminson
Born (1949-05-04) 4 May 1949 (age 66)
Glasgow, Scotland
Genres Rock, hard rock, glam rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active Musician, 1965–2008
Associated acts The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Nazareth, Tear Gas, Bo-Weavels, The Zal Band, Elkie Brooks, Midge Ure, Bonnie Tyler, Ze Suicide, Oskura
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson SG

Alistair Macdonald "Zal" Cleminson (born 4 May 1949, Glasgow, Scotland) is a Scottish guitarist, best known for his prominent role in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band during 1972–78.


A self-taught guitarist, at the start of the 1970s he played and recorded with the Glasgow based band Tear Gas. The musicians in that band then provided the backbone for The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB). In his white-face pierrot make-up, audiences could not mistake him, or his guitar solos on stage with SAHB.

In 1979, he joined Nazareth[1] and recorded two albums with them, 1979's No Mean City and 1980s Malice in Wonderland. When SAHB split up in 1977, they decided to tour as the ZAL BAND and they recruited The Tubes vocalist Leroi Jones, and 19-year-old Billy Rankin on Guitar who later played with Nazareth. He also worked with Tandoori Casette and released an album. He was a regular guitarist with UK legend Elkie Brooks on many of her tours throughout the 1980s. He also wrote and played on Brooks' album, Minutes. Cleminson has also toured and recorded with Midge Ure and Bonnie Tyler.

During the 90s, Cleminson played with The Party Boys, a casual band that at various times featured Marillion's Fish and Nazareth's Dan McCafferty and Billy Rankin as vocalists. This band became a reformed SAHB (Sensational Alex Harvey Band) in 1993 with 'Zero Zero' vocalist Stevie Doherty, and the band recorded a live album simply tited 'LIVE IN GLASGOW 93'.

In 2004, SAHB reunited with The Shamen frontman Max Maxwell, and they performed various tours, and festivals from 2004–2008, releasing their first album since Rock Drill in 1978 titled ZALVATION: Live in the 21st Century.

As well as performing with SAHB, Cleminson was a member of now disbanded outfits Ze Suicide, and Oskura.

In 2006 he appeared in his début acting role as Wilson in the western film, A Shot in the West, for which he wrote the theme music. In early 2008 he announced his retirement from the music industry and stated he would never perform live again.

Cleminson is referenced in the novel The Sacred Art of Stealing by the Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre as the basis of the disguises worn by bank robbers during a heist.

Guthrie Govan has cited Cleminson as one of his most important influences and considers him to have been "his Jimmy Page" in his early guitar development.[2]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography: Nazareth". AMG. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Players' Player Interview". Total Guitar. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 


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