Zal Cleminson

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Zal Cleminson
Background information
Birth name Alistair Macdonald Cleminson
Born (1949-05-04) 4 May 1949 (age 68)
Glasgow, Scotland
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, glam rock, heavy metal
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1965–2008
Associated acts Sin Dogs, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Nazareth, Tear Gas, Bo-Weavels, The Zal Band, Elkie Brooks, Midge Ure, Bonnie Tyler

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 between 1972 and 1978. He has recently - 2017 - put together a new rock band - /sin'dogs/, which recorded and released a 4 song CD and toured Scotland and England at the end of the year.


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 backing for Alex Harvey in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB). Cleminson was an extremely distinctive stage presence with SAHB owing to his white-face pierrot make-up.

When SAHB split up in 1977 they decided to tour as the Zal Band, recruited The Tubes' vocalist Leroi Jones and 19-year-old Billy Rankin on guitar who later played with Nazareth. In 1979 Cleminson joined Nazareth[1] and recorded two albums with them, 1979's No Mean City and 1980's Malice in Wonderland. He also worked with Tandoori Cassette, who toured (several live recordings exist) and released a single; no album was released. He was a regular guitarist with singer Elkie Brooks on many of her tours throughout the 1980s. He wrote and played on Brooks' album Minutes as well as one track on No More The Fool. Cleminson has also toured with Midge Ure on his Gift World Tour 1985 and Bonnie Tyler.

During the 1990s 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 it recorded a live album titled LIVE IN GLASGOW 93.

In 2004 SAHB reunited alongside The Shamen frontman Max Maxwell and performed various tours and festivals between 2004 and 2008, releasing their first album since 1978's Rock Drill which was entitled ZALVATION: Live in the 21st Century.

As well as performing with SAHB, Cleminson was a member of the 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.

That however changed when Zal decided to come out of retirement in 2017 and formed /sin'dogs/ who debuted om their UK Tour at the end at the end of that year. This will be followed by an extensive UK Tour, Festivals, and releasing a studio album in 2018. In a rather interesting twist, Zal has selected three members of a SAHB tribute band called The Sensational Alex Harvey Experience to be in his outfit. These members are William McGonagle (Guitar), David Cowan (Keyboards), and Nelson McFarlane (Bass). The band also features Scott Cowie on drums. Zal came across the SAHB tribute band in 2014 and has gone on record to say that they are the closest anyone will get to the original SAHB for their musicianship, stage theatrics, and ability to capture the SAHB music in blinding fashion. The SAHB Experience are also currently performing throughout Scotland.

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, and inspired the name of the character Zal Innez.

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.