The Lovin’ Spoonful's Zal Yanovsky is one of the Sixties' most overlooked guitarists – here's how he fearlessly blended genres to forge the 'Americana' guitar sound

Zal Yanovsky
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The twangy grandeur of Zal Yanovsky’s big guitar riff on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice made it a Top 10 hit in the winter of 1965-’66. The track also caught the ear of Brian Wilson, inspiring him to write the Beach Boys classic, God Only Knows. Another Spoonful hit, Daydream, influenced Paul McCartney as he was putting together the Beatles’ Good Day Sunshine, from their groundbreaking 1966 album, Revolver.

In the mid-Sixties, the Lovin’ Spoonful were one the most innovative and well-regarded bands around. Yanovsky’s whimsical, wild, wistful and weird guitar work was no small part of the quartet’s popularity. It was the sunshine in the band’s self-described Good Time Music

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, and He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.