Zalman "Zal" Yanovsky (December 19, 1944 – December 13, 2002) was a Canadian folk-rock musician. Born in Toronto, he was the son of political cartoonist Avrom Yanovsky. He played lead guitar and sang for the Lovin' Spoonful, a rock band which he founded with John Sebastian in 1964. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996. He was married to actress Jackie Burroughs, with whom he had one daughter, Zoe.
|Birth name||Zalman Yanovsky|
December 19, 1944|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
December 13, 2002 (aged 57)|
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
|Genres||Folk, folk rock, rock and roll|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, restaurateur|
The Lovin' Spoonful|
The Halifax Three
One of the early rock and roll performers to wear a cowboy hat, and fringed "Davy Crockett" style clothing, Zal helped set the trend followed by such 1960s performers as Sonny Bono, Johnny Rivers, and David Crosby.
Mostly self-taught, he began his musical career playing folk music coffee houses in Toronto. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a short time before returning to Canada. He teamed with fellow Canadian Denny Doherty in the Halifax Three. The two joined Cass Elliot in the Mugwumps, a group made famous by Doherty's & Cass's later group the Mamas & the Papas in the song "Creeque Alley". It was at this time he met John Sebastian and they formed the Lovin' Spoonful with Steve Boone and Joe Butler. According to Sebastian, "He could play like Elmore James, he could play like Floyd Cramer, he could play like Chuck Berry. He could play like all these people, yet he still had his own overpowering personality. Out of this we could, I thought, craft something with real flexibility."
In 1966, he was arrested in the United States on a marijuana-related charge. In exchange for not being deported, Yanovsky gave up his dealer's name, and as a consequence was ostracized by the music community. Returning to his native Canada, he recorded a solo album Alive and Well in Argentina (and Loving Every Minute of It). Buddah Records released the album in the U.S. in 1968, along with a single that did not appear on the album, "As Long As You're Here". The single (on which the B-side was the same track without vocals and recorded backwards) just missed the Billboard Hot 100, but fared a little better in Cashbox, peaking at #73, and reaching #57 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts. Kama Sutra Records reissued the album in 1971 with a completely different cover and the inclusion of "As Long As You're Here".
While a member of Kris Kristofferson's backing band at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, he had a brief reunion with John Sebastian; Sebastian had been (apparently) unaware of Yanovsky's presence, and was made aware by a message passed through the crowd, written on a toilet roll.
He also appeared in the Off-Broadway show "National Lampoon's Lemmings" at New York's Village Gate. Although not an original cast member, he contributed a musical number "Nirvana Banana", a Donovan parody.
After retiring from the music business, Yanovsky became a chef and restaurateur, establishing, alongside his second wife Rose Richardson, Chez Piggy restaurant in 1979 and Pan Chancho Bakery in 1994, both in Kingston, Ontario. He had worked as a chef at The Golden Apple (in Gananoque, Ontario) and, in the mid-'70s, at Dr. Bull's (in Kingston). The success of Chez Piggy prompted the publication of a companion cookbook (The Chez Piggy Cookbook, Firefly Books, 1998) that was collected by fans. After Zal's death of an apparent heart attack in December 2002, and Richardson's death in 2005, his daughter Zoe Yanovsky (with actress Jackie Burroughs) took over the ownership of both eateries. Zoe also completed and launched another cookbook that Zal was working on, The Pan Chancho Cookbook (Bookmakers Press, 2006).
Yanovsky died on December 13, 2002 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada from a heart attack, six days shy of his 58th birthday. A funeral service was held for him in Kingston, Ontario on December 16, 2002.