(left) William Zabka at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 at San Diego Convention Center. (Right) Randy Jackson of Zebra performs during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.
(Left – Andrew Toth | Right – Scott Legato: Getty Images)
70’s essential, Zebra, is gaining a resurgence of notoriety after several references to the band from Netflix’s Cobra Kai series.
Cobra Kai is serialized revival of the iconic Karate Kid movies and Netflix’s version has both William Zabka and Ralph Macchio reprising their roles as rivals of the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Go Dojos.
William Zabka is a real-life Zebra fan which spawned his Zebra shirt cameo, which turned into a feature on the show’s soundtrack.
— William Zabka (@WilliamZabka) December 28, 2020
“The next 10 [in the Cobra Kai playlist] are brought to you by William Zabka and you can be sure of it because Zebra is included,” the post said.
Zabka, even noted that he listened to Zebra during his audition and even during the filming of the movie in his trailer.
“Thanks Felix “Tell me what you want” rocked my trailer every day while filming Karate Kid. Wearing the ZebraBand T is a tribute,” Zabka said after Zebra bassist and keyboardist Felix Hanemann tweeted a birthday/ thank you for featuring the band so prominently in the show.
Thanks @Felix_Zebra “Tell me what you want” rocked my trailer every day while filming Karate Kid. Wearing the @ZebraBand T is a tribute … now tell me who’s behind the door?! 🦓 👊🏻 https://t.co/ACaKUiG3bb pic.twitter.com/ViBBM2LHuW
— William Zabka (@WilliamZabka) October 21, 2020
The band has said they’ve never met Zabka in person but frontman Randy Jackson took a guess to say that he probably grew up seeing them in clubs in the 70’s. “He’s 55 years old,” said Jackson. “So he could have come to the clubs … and snuck in. There’s several people that I was unaware of that had come to the clubs to see us that later became very successful at what they did.”
Though they’ve appeared in other mediums before, Jackson said this name-drop is one of their favorite so far.
“We’ve popped up in cartoons on Cartoon Network and just various places all around. But this one, I think, is the biggest one that we’ve come across,” Jackson recalled. “I remember a couple years ago, we had one of the guys who was one of the lead artists on The Simpsons … he came to a meet-and-greet that we did and gave us all signed versions of the Simpsons with them wearing Zebra T-shirts and stuff.”
Zabka is also seen wearing a Van Halen shirt in the show as well and once again it’s a tribute to his real-life favorites. The Cobra Kai sensei even got to meet his own master back in 2015 when the late Eddie Van Halen gave him a backstage guitar lesson at the Hollywood Bowl.
— William Zabka (@WilliamZabka) October 3, 2015
Season 3 of Cobra Kai was released on Netflix Jan. 1, 2021.