Richard Zeier, Bonita Zeier, Greg Baumgartner, Frank Russell, photos by Darryl Lang
Much happened in a relatively short time between the end of Psitron and the beginning of Zamar. It’s one of those dramatic “Amazing Grace” conversion stories, probably better told on another platform. So, to keep it brief, we had a lot of life challenges hit us all at once, and our eyes were opened to the futility and shallowness of just aiming for self-driven stardom. We became aware of how many people were hurting, including us, and found a new purpose along with other like-minded musicians that wanted to affect the world for good.
Among the most notable changes — Bonita Harlowe became Bonita Zeier, and soon found herself playing keyboards. At first, we began recycling Psitron songs with redirected lyrics, but that eventually led to writing completely new songs. What remained constant was our level of energy, determination and unique creativity.
Bass player Frank Russell became the first full-time member to join us, and we soon started playing at rescue missions, youth detention facilities and a hangout in Hollywood called “the Oasis”, a club that catered to runaway kids.
It was at a large church concert in Glendale with multiple bands and artists where we met Greg Baumgartner, who was doing a solo act with his guitar. He told us he had actually been a drummer before he started singing and playing guitar, and He seemed quite amicable, so we got together later to play.
We had been gigging for a while with a programmed drum machine, so when Greg brought in his real drums the music immediately soared to a new level. But what surprised everyone the most was the power of all three of our voices together in harmony.
Unlike Psitron, Zamar never recorded in a professional studio, but it was during this time that we started acquiring equipment to build our own studio. First with a Teac 4-track reel-to-reel, and later an Akai 12-track machine that was used to produce the one-and-only Zamar album. All of the songs in the player below were recorded in the living room of a rented house in East LA. The same house where we lived, rehearsed and published a Christian Events magazine called “All Dressed Up”.
Although the music was undeniably powerful, the band was not without internal conflicts that made moving forward challenging. The same year the album “In the Beginning” was released, our house was burglarized while we were at our “day jobs”. We came home to find the front door open and much of our equipment gone, including our instruments. That turned out to be the final blow for Zamar, but when the proverbial door closes… God has a plan.