November 28, 2004

SJP


Artist: Zappacosta, Alfie




Born: 1953 as Alfie Zappacosta

Zappacosta decided he wanted to be a musician shortly after getting his first guitar at age 9. With proper guitar lessons by age 12, Zappacosta's guitar teacher began arranging weekend gigs for him at Italian weddings. As work progressed, Zappacosta found himself playing with a plethora of musicians on stage including accordion players and flamenco guitarists.

Weary of the wedding circuit, he decided he would rather get into contemporary music which led to a series of Top-40 bands during the late '70's disco era. His first professional, unionized, card-carrying gig was with Robert E. Lee followed by the disco/R & B Janette Brant Lee which featured three female vocalists, a horn section and sequined three-piece jump suits.

Zappacosta soon grew tired of this three ring circus and decided to form an original rock and roll act in 1979 by utilizing Paul Delaney (drums) and Steve Jensen (guitar) from the disco act and called it Surrender.

They recorded their self-titled debut in 1979 for Capitol Records which just barely cracked the RPM Top 100. After touring and several member changes, Surrender returned to their original three member line-up. In September 1981 they released the EP 'No Surrender' which failed to chart despite the release of two singles.

The trio trudged on despite resistance from Capitol who reluctantly agreed to another album but shipped the band off to LA to work with Ed Thacker. The resulting album was considered an unmitigated disaster, was shelved, and Surrender disbanded.

In 1983 Zappacosta began selling himself as a solo act and just as he was about to sign a management deal with American agents Leber-Krebs, he received a call from manager Lou Blair (Loverboy) who enticed Zappacosta back into the Canadian talent pool.

With a fresh vision the new team decided to revive the finished Surrender album but it needed an overhaul. With Dee Long and John Jones' new ESP studios (which was home to many other Capitol recording acts) the record was reworked and remixed by Dee Long (Klaatu) in three weeks.

The 1984 result was named 'Zappacosta' and featured several members of Surrender (Steve Jensen, Mitche Starkman, Paul Delaney and Gerald O'Brien) and guest appearances by Jeff Jones (Red Rider) on bass and Gerry Mosby (The Hunt, Rhinegold) on background vocals. The album spawned several hit singles including the Bob Ezrin co-write "Passion" and landed Zappacosta a Juno Award for 'Most Promising Male Vocalist Of The Year'.

As 1985 marched on Zappacosta's next album was in the proverbial can, and once again Capitol dragged their heels. In the interim he performed in the musical stage production of 'Evita' as Che Guevera and was one of many Canadian superstars to lend his voice to the "Tears Are Not Enough" Ethiopia relief record 'We Are The World'. With the 'Evita' production on a roll in Halifax, Zappacosta received word that his album would be picked up by Capitol Records after all. 'A-Z' was released in 1986 and resulted in another fistful of hits.

During the time of uncertainty with Capitol Records Zappacosta had been courted by Millenium Records president Jimmy Ienner but Zappacosta refused his advances. However, in 1988 Ienner approached him again about adding a song to an upcoming movie he was producing called 'Dirty Dancing'.

Zappacosta co-wrote a tune called "Overload" with Marco Luchiani which the producers loved and the song was featured in the movie soundtrack which became not only a hit movie, but one of the biggest selling movie soundtracks up until that time. That same year Lou Blair's business partner Bruce Allen founded Penta Records and signed Zappacosta.

However, Penta Records would soon become unmanageable as a five-headed business proposition and the label lost its distribution deal with Elektra on the eve of release of Zappacosta's next album. Bruce Allen cut his ties with Zappacosta and Lou Blair helped clear up the contractual mess and Zappacosta was left with a finished master tape and no distributor.

Using money from his 'Dirty Dancing' soundtrack profits, he was able to convince Capitol to take a chance on him one more time and they released his A-Zee Records album 'Quick!...Don't Ask Any Questions' two years after it was recorded. A heavy tour schedule followed with his new band -- Steve Jensen (guitar, vox), Corrine Plomish (vocals, keyboards), Marco Luciani, Darren Bowler (bass), and Tony Azzopardi (drums). Zappacosta even brought in long time road crew Bob Shindle (audio) and Brad Campaigne (lighting, tour manager).

Following the wrap up of the tour he decided to take a much needed break to do some soul searching and finally focus on his abilities as both a singer, by taking vocal lessons, and a guitarist (by taking up classical guitar).

In 1993 Zappacosta fronted a trio who played the club circuit with his flair for adult contemporary charm and new classical stylings. By late 1995 he had recorded his next effort, 'Innocence Ballet', for fre/EMI and did a Canadian promotion tour with few actual gigs. By early 1996, Syndrome Records had released the disc in the US and Zappacosta found himself touring on some very successful and well received dates stateside.

In July 1996 after the particularly grueling tour schedule, the singer/songwriter was admitted to an Edmonton hospital with severe pneumonia that made it necessary to perform a tracheotomy (rather than damage the singer's vocal chords with a standard breathing tube). But the pneumonia was only part of a larger complication as doctors discovered 2 large pancreatic tumors. These were removed successfully.

During Zappacosta’s recovery, he took time to reflect on his career and choices he had made. He had made it clear in many interviews that it had never been his intention to be a front man. Writing songs and playing guitar had always been his passion. But somewhere along the way, he realized that he really did want to sing. If that decision was going to ring true, he wanted to be the best he could be. In 1998, he began work with renowned vocal coach David Dunbar. The result was an incredible growth that inspired Alfie to record once again.

In 1999, with a new label, White Feather Records, and lifelong friend/producer Gerry Mosby, Zappacosta headed to Wellesley Sound Studios to record his 7th CD “Dark Sided Jewel”. While this recording has certainly received the critical acclaim it deserved, it never did garner airplay. The music industry was just not ready for a new Zappacosta.

In 2001, Zappacosta returned to Neptune Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia to resurrect his role as Christ. Teamed with Heather Rankin (The Rankins), 'Jesus Christ Superstar' was a smashing success and put Zappacosta back on the radar. On a return visit to Halifax in 2001, Alfie met Anne Oakley, a promoter/publicist from Halifax. They began to work together and six months later, she became his manager.

In 2002, Alfie returned to Edmonton to once again portray Che in 'Evita' and began to tour Canada to introduce his new music. During a DVD filming in Toronto, Zappacosta signed to LiveTourArtists and Alfie began to find a home in theatres and soft seater venues. Zappacosta was finally home, singing in venues with an audience who wanted to hear the music and buy the CD’s.

In 2003, he signed to Marquis Records/EMI. Teamed with producer Glenn Morley (Gino Vanelli) Zappacosta recorded 'Start Again'. He also took time to star in his first motion picture HALO where he portrays an Italian drug lord. 'Start Again' was released in April 2004 and HALO will be released in 2005.

Currently Zappacosta is performing in the hit musical 'British Invasion: America Strikes Back' and continues to tour to promote his new CD.

With notes from Alfie Zappacosta, Midge Hill, Mitch Starkman, Brad Campaigne, and Anne Oakley.



Singles
1984 Passion/Katie's Eyes (Capitol-EMI) B-5369
1984 Runaround/Can't Let Go (Capitol-EMI) B-72945
1984 Katie's Eyes/I'll Give It A Go (Capitol-EMI) B-72970
1985 We Should Be Lovers/Can You Hear Me (Capitol-EMI) B-5426
1986 When I Fall (In Love Again)/Heroes (Capitol-EMI) B-73001
1986 Turn It On Side/Judgement Day (Capitol-EMI) B-73013
1986 Nothing Can Stand In Your Way/Another Man's Gain (Capitol-EMI) B-73016
1986 I Think About You/Burnin' (Capitol-EMI) B-73026
1988 Overload (RCA)
1990 Nothing To Do With Love (A-Zee/Capitol-EMI)
1990 Letter Back (A-Zee/Capitol-EMI)
1991 I'll Be The One (A-Zee/Capitol-EMI)
1991 Simple Words To Say (A-Zee/Capitol-EMI)
1995 Orlanda (Syndrome - US only)
1995 Show Me (Syndrome - US only)
1996 Lombard Street (Syndrome - US only)
1996 Me & Mrs. Jones (Syndrome - US only)
1996 Someone (Syndrome - US only)
2000 Adilina (White Feather)
2004 Tears Of Hercules (Marquis)
2004 And We'll Dance (Marquis)

with SURRENDER
1979 Buddy/Any Way You Want (Capitol-EMI) 72811
1979 Find Your Way/Some People (Capitol-EMI) 72818
1982 Start Again/Find Your Way (Capitol-EMI) 72898 1982 Hold Tight/Turn Down The Mission (Capitol-EMI) 72904
1982 It's All Been Done Before/[same] (Capitol-EMI) SPRO-212


Albums
1984 Zappacosta (Capitol-EMI)
1986 A-Z (Capitol-EMI) ST-6541
1987 Over 60 Minutes With...Zappacosta (Capitol-EMI) 748552
1990 Quick!...Don't Ask Any Questions (A-Zee/Capitol-EMI) 54071
1995 Innocence Ballet (fre/EMI) 8917
1999 Dark Sided Jewel (White Feather) CD-001
2004 Start Again (Marquis) 319

with SURRENDER
1979 Surrender (Capitol-EMI) ST-11938
1979 Anyway You Want/Buddy/Some People/Nicole (Capitol-EMI) SPRO-201
1982 No Surrender (Capitol-EMI) DLP-3002
2004 Surrender/No Surrender [CD re-issue] (EMI Canada) 40719

Video
1984 Tears Are Not Enough – African Relief Project
1985 We Should Be Lovers
1986 When I Fall in Love Again
1990 Turn It On
1990 Letter Back
1991 I’ll Be The One

Compilation Tracks
1987 "Nothing Could Stand In Your Way" on 'Canadian Gold' (Quality Special Products)
1988 "Overload" on 'Dirty Dancing' (RCA)

Collaborations
with KICK AXE
1985 "With A Little Help From My Friends" on 'Welcome To The Club' (CBS)

with NORTHERN LIGHTS
1985 "Tears Are Not Enough" on 'We Are The World' (CBS)

with SHERRY KEAN
1988 The Power And The Glory/[Mount Royal Theme - instr.] (Attic) AT-372



Zappacosta Official Website


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