Frank Vincent Zappa[nb 1] (December 21, 1940 – December 4,
1993) was an American musician, composer, activist and filmmaker. His
work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound
experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In
a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop,
jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and
produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his
band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also
directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album
covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically
diverse rock musicians of his era.
As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa's diverse musical
influences led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to
categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century
classical composers such as Edgard Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton
Webern, along with 1950s rhythm and blues and doo-wop music. He
began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time
playing drums in rhythm and blues bands; later switching to electric
guitar. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak
Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with
collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. He
continued this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of
whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz or classical.
Zappa's output is unified by a conceptual continuity he termed
"Project/Object", with numerous musical phrases, ideas, and characters
reappearing across his albums. His lyrics reflected his
iconoclastic views of established social and political processes,
structures and movements, often humorously so. He was a strident
critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a
forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech,
self-education, political participation and the abolition of
censorship. Unlike many other rock musicians of his generation, he
personally disapproved of and seldom used drugs, but supported their
decriminalization and regulation.
During Zappa's lifetime, he was a highly productive and prolific
artist, earning widespread acclaim from critics and fellow musicians.
He had some commercial success, particularly in Europe, and worked as
an independent artist for most of his career. He remains a major
influence on musicians and composers. His honors include an induction
into the 1995
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the 1997 Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award. In 2000, he was ranked number 36 on VH1's 100
Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. In 2004,
Rolling Stone magazine
ranked him at number 71 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of
All Time", and in 2011 at number 22 on its list of the "100
Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
1 1940s–1960s: Early life and career
1.2 First musical interests
1.3 Studio Z
2 Late 1960s: The Mothers of Invention
2.2 Debut album: Freak Out!
2.3 New York period (1966–1968)
3.1 Rebirth of the Mothers and filmmaking
3.2 Accident, attack and aftermath
3.3 Top 10 album: Apostrophe (')
3.4 Business breakups and touring
3.5 Independent label
4.1 "Valley Girl" and classical performances
4.3 Digital medium and last tour
4.4 Health deterioration
5 Musical style and development
5.4.2 Tape manipulation
6 Personal life
7 Beliefs and politics
7.2 Government and religion
8.1 Acclaim and honors
8.2 Artists influenced by Zappa
8.3 References in arts and sciences
10 See also
14 External links
1940s–1960s: Early life and career
Zappa was born on December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. His
mother, Rosemarie (née Collimore) was of Italian (Neapolitan and
Sicilian) and French ancestry; his father, whose name was anglicized
to Francis Vincent Zappa, was an immigrant from Partinico, Sicily,
with Greek and Arab ancestry.[nb 2]
Frank, the eldest of four children, was raised in an Italian-American
household where Italian was often spoken by his grandparents.:6
The family moved often because his father, a chemist and
mathematician, worked in the defense industry. After a time in Florida
in the 1940s, the family returned to Maryland, where Zappa's father
worked at the Edgewood Arsenal chemical warfare facility of the
Aberdeen Proving Ground. Due to their home's proximity to the arsenal,
which stored mustard gas, gas masks were kept in the home in case of
an accident.:20–23 This had a profound effect on Zappa, and
references to germs, germ warfare and the defense industry occur
throughout his work.:8–9
Zappa was often sick as a child, suffering from asthma, earaches and
sinus problems. A doctor treated his sinusitis by inserting a pellet
of radium into each of Zappa's nostrils. At the time, little was known
about the potential dangers of even small amounts of therapeutic
radiation,:10 and although it has since been claimed that nasal
radium treatment has causal connections to cancer, no studies have
provided significant enough evidence to confirm this.
Nasal imagery and references appear in his music and lyrics, as well
as in the collage album covers created by his long-time collaborator
Cal Schenkel. Zappa believed his childhood diseases might have been
due to exposure to mustard gas, released by the nearby chemical
warfare facility. His health worsened when he lived in
Baltimore.:20–23:10 In 1952, his family relocated for reasons
of health.:22 They next moved to Monterey, California, where his
father taught metallurgy at the Naval Postgraduate School. They soon
moved to Claremont, California,:46 then to El Cajon, before
finally settling in San Diego.
First musical interests
"Since I didn't have any kind of formal training, it didn't make any
difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin' Slim, or a vocal
group called the Jewels ..., or Webern, or Varèse, or
Stravinsky. To me it was all good music."
—Frank Zappa, 1989:34
Zappa joined his first band at
Mission Bay High School in
San Diego as
the drummer.:29 About the same time his parents bought a
phonograph, which allowed him to develop his interest in music, and to
begin building his record collection.:22 R&B singles were
early purchases, starting a large collection he kept for the rest of
his life.:36 He was interested in sounds for their own sake,
particularly the sounds of drums and other percussion instruments. By
age 12, he had obtained a snare drum and began learning the basics of
orchestral percussion.:29 Zappa's deep interest in modern classical
music began when he read a LOOK magazine article about the Sam
Goody record store chain that lauded its ability to sell an LP as
obscure as The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Volume
One.:30–33 The article described Varèse's percussion composition
Ionisation, produced by EMS Recordings, as "a weird jumble of drums
and other unpleasant sounds". Zappa decided to seek out Varèse's
music. After searching for over a year, Zappa found a copy (he noticed
the LP because of the "mad scientist" looking photo of Varèse on the
cover). Not having enough money with him, he persuaded the salesman to
sell him the record at a discount.:30–33 Thus began his lifelong
passion for Varèse's music and that of other modern classical
Zappa's senior yearbook photo, 1958
By 1956, the Zappa family had moved to Lancaster, a small aerospace
and farming town in the
Antelope Valley of the
Mojave Desert close to
Edwards Air Force Base; he would later refer to Lancaster in the 1973
track "Village of the Sun". Zappa's mother encouraged him in his
musical interests. Although she disliked Varèse's music, she was
indulgent enough to give her son a long distance call to the composer
as a 15th birthday present.:30–33 Unfortunately, Varèse was in
Europe at the time, so Zappa spoke to the composer's wife and she
suggested he call back later. In a letter Varèse thanked him for his
interest, and told him about a composition he was working on called
"Déserts". Living in the desert town of Lancaster, Zappa found this
very exciting. Varèse invited him to visit if he ever came to New
York. The meeting never took place (Varèse died in 1965), but Zappa
framed the letter and kept it on display for the rest of his
Antelope Valley High School, Zappa met Don Glen Vliet (who later
changed his name to Don Van Vliet and adopted the stage name Captain
Beefheart). Zappa and Vliet became close friends, sharing an interest
in R&B records and influencing each other musically throughout
their careers.:29–30 Around the same time, Zappa started playing
drums in a local band, the Blackouts.:13 The band was racially
diverse and included Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood who later
became a member of the Mothers of Invention. Zappa's interest in the
guitar grew, and in 1957 he was given his first instrument. Among his
early influences were Johnny "Guitar" Watson,
Howlin' Wolf and
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. (In the 1970s/80s, he invited Watson to
perform on several albums.) Zappa considered soloing as the equivalent
of forming "air sculptures", and developed an eclectic, innovative
and highly personal style.
Zappa's interest in composing and arranging flourished in his last
high-school years. By his final year, he was writing, arranging and
conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school
orchestra.:40 He graduated from
Antelope Valley High School in
1958, and later acknowledged two of his music teachers on the sleeve
of the 1966 album Freak Out! Due to his family's frequent moves,
Zappa attended at least six different high schools, and as a student
he was often bored and given to distracting the rest of the class with
juvenile antics.:48 In 1959, he attended
Chaffey College but left
after one semester, and maintained thereafter a disdain for formal
education, taking his children out of school at age 15 and refusing to
pay for their college.:345
Zappa left home in 1959, and moved into a small apartment in Echo
Park, Los Angeles. After meeting Kathryn J. "Kay" Sherman during his
short period of private composition study with Prof.
Karl Kohn of
Pomona College, they moved in together in Ontario, and were married
December 28, 1960.:58 Zappa worked for a short period in
advertising. His sojourn in the commercial world was brief, but gave
him valuable insights into its workings.:40 Throughout his career,
he took a keen interest in the visual presentation of his work,
designing some of his album covers and directing his own films and
Zappa attempted to earn a living as a musician and composer, and
played different nightclub gigs, some with a new version of the
Blackouts.:59 Zappa's earliest professional recordings, two
soundtracks for the low-budget films The World's Greatest Sinner
(1962) and Run Home Slow (1965) were more financially rewarding. The
former score was commissioned by actor-producer
Timothy Carey and
recorded in 1961. It contains many themes that appeared on later Zappa
records.:63 The latter soundtrack was recorded in 1963 after the
film was completed, but it was commissioned by one of Zappa's former
high school teachers in 1959 and Zappa may have worked on it before
the film was shot.:55 Excerpts from the soundtrack can be heard on
the posthumous album
The Lost Episodes
The Lost Episodes (1996).
During the early 1960s, Zappa wrote and produced songs for other local
artists, often working with singer-songwriter Ray Collins and producer
Paul Buff. Their "Memories of El Monte" was recorded by the Penguins,
although only Cleve Duncan of the original group was featured.
Buff owned the small
Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, which included
a unique five-track tape recorder he had built. At that time, only a
handful of the most sophisticated commercial studios had multi-track
facilities; the industry standard for smaller studios was still mono
or two-track.:42 Although none of the recordings from the period
achieved major commercial success, Zappa earned enough money to allow
him to stage a concert of his orchestral music in 1963 and to
broadcast and record it.:74 He appeared on Steve Allen's
syndicated late night show the same year, in which he played a bicycle
as a musical instrument. Using a bow borrowed from the band's bass
player, as well as drum sticks, he proceeded to pluck, bang, and bow
the spokes of the bike, producing strange, comical sounds from his new
found instrument. With Captain Beefheart, Zappa recorded some songs
under the name of the Soots. They were rejected by
Dot Records for
having "no commercial potential", a verdict Zappa subsequently quoted
on the sleeve of Freak Out!:27
In 1964, after his marriage started to break up, he moved into the Pal
studio and began routinely working 12 hours or more per day
recording and experimenting with overdubbing and audio tape
manipulation. This established a work pattern that endured for most of
his life.:43 Aided by his income from film composing, Zappa took
over the studio from Paul Buff, who was now working with
Art Laboe at
Original Sound. It was renamed Studio Z.:80–81 Studio Z was
rarely booked for recordings by other musicians. Instead, friends
moved in, notably James "Motorhead" Sherwood.:82–83 Zappa
started performing in local bars as a guitarist with a power trio, the
Muthers, to support himself.:26
An article in the local press describing Zappa as "the Movie King of
Cucamonga" prompted the local police to suspect that he was making
pornographic films.:85 In March 1965, Zappa was approached by a
vice squad undercover officer, and accepted an offer of $100
(equivalent to $777 in 2017) to produce a suggestive audio tape for an
alleged stag party. Zappa and a female friend recorded a faked erotic
episode. When Zappa was about to hand over the tape, he was arrested,
and the police stripped the studio of all recorded material.:85
The press was tipped off beforehand, and next day's The Daily Report
wrote that "Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a
free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and
arrested a self-styled movie producer". Zappa was charged with
"conspiracy to commit pornography".:57 This felony charge was
reduced and he was sentenced to six months in jail on a misdemeanor,
with all but ten days suspended.:86–87 His brief imprisonment
left a permanent mark, and was central to the formation of his
anti-authoritarian stance.:XV Zappa lost several recordings made
at Studio Z in the process, as the police only returned 30 out of 80
hours of tape seized.:87 Eventually, he could no longer afford to
pay the rent on the studio and was evicted. Zappa managed to
recover some of his possessions before the studio was torn down in
Late 1960s: The Mothers of Invention
In 1965, Ray Collins asked Zappa to take over as guitarist in local
R&B band the Soul Giants, following a fight between Collins and
the group's original guitarist. Zappa accepted, and soon assumed
leadership and the role as co-lead singer (even though he never
considered himself a singer). He convinced the other members that
they should play his music to increase the chances of getting a record
contract.:65–66 The band was renamed the Mothers, coincidentally
on Mother's Day.:42 They increased their bookings after beginning
an association with manager Herb Cohen, while they gradually gained
attention on the burgeoning
Los Angeles underground music scene.
In early 1966, they were spotted by leading record producer Tom Wilson
when playing "Trouble Every Day", a song about the Watts
riots.:103 Wilson had earned acclaim as the producer for Bob Dylan
and Simon & Garfunkel, and was notable as one of the few
African-Americans working as a major label pop music producer at this
time. Wilson signed the Mothers to the Verve division of MGM, which
had built up a strong reputation for its releases of modern jazz
recordings in the 1940s and 1950s, but was attempting to diversify
into pop and rock audiences. Verve insisted that the band officially
rename themselves the Mothers of Invention as Mother was short for
motherfucker—a term that, apart from its profane meanings, can
denote a skilled musician.
Debut album: Freak Out!
With Wilson credited as producer, the Mothers of Invention, augmented
by a studio orchestra, recorded the groundbreaking
Freak Out! (1966),
which, after Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, was the second rock double
album ever released. It mixed R&B, doo-wop, musique
concrète,:25 and experimental sound collages that captured the
"freak" subculture of
Los Angeles at that time. Although he was
dissatisfied with the final product, Freak Out immediately established
Zappa as a radical new voice in rock music, providing an antidote to
the "relentless consumer culture of America".:115 The sound was
raw, but the arrangements were sophisticated. While recording in the
studio, some of the additional session musicians were shocked that
they were expected to read the notes on sheet music from charts with
Zappa conducting them, since it was not standard when recording rock
music.:112 The lyrics praised non-conformity, disparaged
authorities, and had dadaist elements. Yet, there was a place for
seemingly conventional love songs.:10–11 Most compositions are
Zappa's, which set a precedent for the rest of his recording career.
He had full control over the arrangements and musical decisions and
did most overdubs. Wilson provided the industry clout and connections
and was able to provide the group with the financial resources
needed.:123 Although Wilson was able to provide Zappa and the
Mothers with an extraordinary degree of artistic freedom for the time,
the recording did not go entirely as planned. In a surviving 1967
radio interview, Zappa explained that the album's outlandish 11-minute
closing track, "Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" was in fact an
unfinished piece. The track (as it appears on the album) was created
to act as the backing track for a much more complex work, but MGM
refused to approve the additional recording time Zappa needed to
complete it, so (much to his chagrin) it was issued in this unfinished
Hungry Freaks Daddy
The opening track on Freak Out!. The album has "consistently been
voted as one of top 100 greatest albums ever made".:115
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During the recording of Freak Out!, Zappa moved into a house in Laurel
Canyon with friend Pamela Zarubica, who appeared on the album.:112
The house became a meeting (and living) place for many LA musicians
and groupies of the time, despite Zappa's disapproval of their illicit
drug use.:122 After a short promotional tour following the release
of Freak Out!, Zappa met Adelaide Gail Sloatman. He fell in love
within "a couple of minutes", and she moved into the house over the
summer.:65–66 They married in 1967, had four children and
remained together until Zappa's death.
Wilson nominally produced the Mothers' second album Absolutely Free
(1967), which was recorded in November 1966, and later mixed in New
York, although by this time Zappa was in de facto control of most
facets of the production. It featured extended playing by the Mothers
of Invention and focused on songs that defined Zappa's compositional
style of introducing abrupt, rhythmical changes into songs that were
built from diverse elements.:5 Examples are "Plastic People" and
"Brown Shoes Don't Make It", which contained lyrics critical of the
hypocrisy and conformity of American society, but also of the
counterculture of the 1960s.:38–43 As Zappa put it, "[W]e're
satirists, and we are out to satirize everything.":135–138 At
the same time, Zappa had recorded material for an album of orchestral
works to be released under his own name, Lumpy Gravy, released by
Capitol Records in 1967. Due to contractual problems, the album was
pulled. Zappa took the opportunity to radically restructure the
contents, adding newly recorded, improvised dialogue. After the
contractual problems were resolved, the album was reissued by Verve in
1968.:140–141 It is an "incredible ambitious musical
project",:56 a "monument to John Cage", which intertwines
orchestral themes, spoken words and electronic noises through radical
audio editing techniques.:56[nb 4]
New York period (1966–1968)
The Mothers of Invention
The Mothers of Invention played in New York in late 1966 and were
offered a contract at the Garrick Theater (at 152 Bleecker Street,
above the Cafe au Go Go) during Easter 1967. This proved successful
Herb Cohen extended the booking, which eventually lasted half a
year. As a result, Zappa and his wife, along with the Mothers of
Invention, moved to New York.:140–141 Their shows became a
combination of improvised acts showcasing individual talents of the
band as well as tight performances of Zappa's music. Everything was
directed by Zappa using hand signals.:147 Guest performers and
audience participation became a regular part of the Garrick Theater
shows. One evening, Zappa managed to entice some U.S. Marines from the
audience onto the stage, where they proceeded to dismember a big baby
doll, having been told by Zappa to pretend that it was a "gook
Zappa uniquely contributed to the avant-garde, anti-establishment
music scene of the 1960s, sampling radio tape recordings and
incorporating his own philosophical ideals to music and freedom of
expression in his pieces. Bands such as AMM and Faust also contributed
to the radio sampling techniques of the 1960s. Situated in New York,
and only interrupted by the band's first European tour, the Mothers of
Invention recorded the album widely regarded as the peak of the
group's late 1960s work,
We're Only in It for the Money
We're Only in It for the Money (released
1968). It was produced by Zappa, with Wilson credited as executive
producer. From then on, Zappa produced all albums released by the
Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. We're Only in It for the
Money featured some of the most creative audio editing and production
yet heard in pop music, and the songs ruthlessly satirized the hippie
and flower power phenomena.:15 He sampled plundered surf music
in We're only in It for the Money, as well as the Beatles' tape work
from their song Tomorrow Never Knows. The cover photo parodied
that of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[nb 5] The
cover art was provided by
Cal Schenkel whom Zappa met in New York.
This initiated a lifelong collaboration in which Schenkel designed
covers for numerous Zappa and Mothers albums.:88
Reflecting Zappa's eclectic approach to music, the next album,
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968), was very different. It
represented a collection of doo-wop songs; listeners and critics were
not sure whether the album was a satire or a tribute.:58 Zappa
later noted that the album was conceived in the way Stravinsky's
compositions were in his neo-classical period: "If he could take the
forms and clichés of the classical era and pervert them, why not do
the same ... to doo-wop in the fifties?":88 A theme from
The Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring is heard during one song.
During the late 1960s, Zappa continued to develop the business sides
of his career. He and
Herb Cohen formed the
Bizarre Records and
Straight Records labels, distributed by
Warner Bros. Records, as
ventures to aid the funding of projects and to increase creative
control. Zappa produced the double album
Trout Mask Replica
Trout Mask Replica for
Captain Beefheart, and releases by Alice Cooper, The Persuasions, Wild
Man Fischer, and the GTOs, as well as Lenny Bruce's last live
In 1967 and 1968, Zappa made two appearances with the Monkees. The
first appearance was on an episode of their TV series, "The Monkees
Blow Their Minds", where Zappa, dressed up as Mike Nesmith, interviews
Nesmith who is dressed up as Zappa. After the interview, Zappa
destroys a car with a sledgehammer as the song "Mother People" plays.
He later provided a cameo in the Monkees' movie Head where, leading a
cow, he tells Davy Jones "the youth of America depends on you to show
them the way." Zappa had respect for what the Monkees were doing, and
Micky Dolenz a position in the Mothers. RCA/Columbia/Colgems
would not allow Dolenz out of his contract.:158–159
In the Mothers' second European tour in September/October 1968 they
performed for the Internationale Essener Songtage (de) at the
Grugahalle in Essen, Germany; at the Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark;
for TV programs in Germany (Beat-Club), France, and England; at the
Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; at the
Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall in London; and
at the Olympia in Paris.
Peaches En Regalia
The opening track on
Hot Rats is considered one of Zappa's most
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Zappa and the Mothers of Invention returned to
Los Angeles in
mid-1968, and the Zappas moved into a house on Laurel Canyon
Boulevard, only to move again to one on Woodrow Wilson Drive.:178
This was Zappa's home for the rest of his life. Despite being a
success with fans in Europe, the Mothers of Invention were not faring
well financially. Their first records were vocally oriented, but
Zappa wrote more instrumental jazz and classical oriented music for
the band's concerts, which confused audiences. Zappa felt that
audiences failed to appreciate his "electrical chamber
Zappa with the Mothers of Invention, Theatre de Clichy, Paris, 1971
In 1969 there were nine band members and Zappa was supporting the
group himself from his publishing royalties whether they played or
not. 1969 was also the year Zappa, fed up with MGM Records'
interference, left them for
Warner Bros. Records' Reprise subsidiary
where Zappa/Mothers recordings would bear the
Bizarre Records imprint.
In late 1969, Zappa broke up the band. He often cited the financial
strain as the main reason,:107 but also commented on the band
members' lack of sufficient effort.:120 Many band members were
bitter about Zappa's decision, and some took it as a sign of Zappa's
concern for perfection at the expense of human feeling.:185–187
Others were irritated by 'his autocratic ways',:123 exemplified by
Zappa's never staying at the same hotel as the band members.:116
Several members played for Zappa in years to come. Remaining
recordings with the band from this period were collected on Weasels
Ripped My Flesh and
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (both released in 1970).
After he disbanded the Mothers of Invention, Zappa released the
acclaimed solo album
Hot Rats (1969).:194 It features, for the
first time on record, Zappa playing extended guitar solos and contains
one of his most enduring compositions, "Peaches en Regalia", which
reappeared several times on future recordings.:74 He was backed by
jazz, blues and R&B session players including violinist Don
"Sugarcane" Harris, drummers
John Guerin and Paul Humphrey,
multi-instrumentalist and previous member of the Mothers of Invention
Ian Underwood, and multi-instrumentalist
Shuggie Otis on bass, along
with a guest appearance by
Captain Beefheart (providing vocals to the
only non-instrumental track, "Willie the Pimp"). It became a popular
album in England,:109 and had a major influence on the development
of the jazz-rock fusion genre.:74:194
Rebirth of the Mothers and filmmaking
Frank Zappa in Paris, early 1970s
In 1970 Zappa met conductor Zubin Mehta. They arranged a May 1970
concert where Mehta conducted the
Los Angeles Philharmonic augmented
by a rock band. According to Zappa, the music was mostly written in
motel rooms while on tour with the Mothers of Invention. Some of it
was later featured in the movie 200 Motels.:109 Although the
concert was a success, Zappa's experience working with a symphony
orchestra was not a happy one.:88 His dissatisfaction became a
recurring theme throughout his career; he often felt that the quality
of performance of his material delivered by orchestras was not
commensurate with the money he spent on orchestral concerts and
Later in 1970, Zappa formed a new version of the Mothers (from then
on, he mostly dropped the "of Invention"). It included British drummer
Aynsley Dunbar, jazz keyboardist George Duke, Ian Underwood, Jeff
Simmons (bass, rhythm guitar), and three members of the Turtles: bass
player Jim Pons, and singers
Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, who, due
to persistent legal and contractual problems, adopted the stage name
"The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie", or "Flo & Eddie".:201
This version of the Mothers debuted on Zappa's next solo album
Chunga's Revenge (1970),:205 which was followed by the
double-album soundtrack to the movie
200 Motels (1971), featuring the
Mothers, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Ringo Starr, Theodore
Bikel, and Keith Moon. Co-directed by Zappa and Tony Palmer, it was
filmed in a week at
Pinewood Studios outside London.:183 Tensions
between Zappa and several cast and crew members arose before and
during shooting.:183 The film deals loosely with life on the road
as a rock musician.:207 It was the first feature film photographed
on videotape and transferred to 35 mm film, a process that
allowed for novel visual effects. It was released to mixed
reviews.:94 The score relied extensively on orchestral music, and
Zappa's dissatisfaction with the classical music world intensified
when a concert, scheduled at the
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall after filming, was
canceled because a representative of the venue found some of the
lyrics obscene. In 1975, he lost a lawsuit against the Royal Albert
Hall for breach of contract.:119–137
After 200 Motels, the band went on tour, which resulted in two live
Fillmore East – June 1971
Fillmore East – June 1971 and Just Another Band from L.A.;
the latter included the 20-minute track "Billy the Mountain", Zappa's
satire on rock opera set in Southern California. This track was
representative of the band's theatrical performances—which used
songs to build sketches based on
200 Motels scenes, as well as new
situations that often portrayed the band members' sexual encounters on
the road.:203–204[nb 6]
Accident, attack and aftermath
Zappa with the Mothers, 1971
The closing track on Waka/Jawaka, one of Zappa's jazz-oriented albums.
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On December 4, 1971, Zappa suffered his first of two serious setbacks.
While performing at Casino de Montreux in Switzerland, the Mothers'
equipment was destroyed when a flare set off by an audience member
started a fire that burned down the casino.:112–115 Immortalized
in Deep Purple's song "Smoke on the Water", the event and immediate
aftermath can be heard on the bootleg album Swiss Cheese/Fire,
released legally as part of Zappa's
Beat the Boots II
Beat the Boots II compilation.
After losing $50,000 (equivalent to $302,000 in 2017) worth of
equipment and a week's break, the Mothers played at the Rainbow
Theatre, London, with rented gear. During the encore, audience member
Trevor Howell pushed Zappa off the stage and into the concrete-floored
orchestra pit. The band thought Zappa had been killed—he had
suffered serious fractures, head trauma and injuries to his back, leg,
and neck, as well as a crushed larynx, which ultimately caused his
voice to drop a third after healing.:112–115
This attack resulted in an extended period of wheelchair confinement,
making touring impossible for over half a year. Upon return to the
stage in September 1972, Zappa was still wearing a leg brace, had a
noticeable limp and could not stand for very long while on stage.
Zappa noted that one leg healed "shorter than the other" (a reference
later found in the lyrics of songs "Zomby Woof" and "Dancin' Fool"),
resulting in chronic back pain.:112–115 Meanwhile, the Mothers
were left in limbo and eventually formed the core of Flo and Eddie's
band as they set out on their own.
During 1971–72 Zappa released two strongly jazz-oriented solo LPs,
Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, which were recorded during the forced
layoff from concert touring, using floating line-ups of session
players and Mothers alumni.:101 Musically, the albums were akin to
Hot Rats, in that they featured extended instrumental tracks with
extended soloing.:225–226 Zappa began touring again in late
1972.:225–226 His first effort was a series of concerts in
September 1972 with a 20-piece big band referred to as the Grand
Wazoo. This was followed by a scaled-down version known as the Petit
Wazoo that toured the U.S. for five weeks from October to December
Top 10 album: Apostrophe (')
Zappa then formed and toured with smaller groups that variously
Ian Underwood (reeds, keyboards),
Ruth Underwood (vibes,
marimba), Sal Marquez (trumpet, vocals),
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax,
flute and vocals),
Bruce Fowler (trombone), Tom Fowler (bass), Chester
Ralph Humphrey (drums),
George Duke (keyboards,
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin).
By 1973 the Bizarre and Straight labels were discontinued. In their
place, Zappa and Cohen created DiscReet Records, also distributed by
Warner Bros.:231 Zappa continued a high rate of production through
the first half of the 1970s, including the solo album Apostrophe (')
(1974), which reached a career-high No. 10 on the Billboard pop
album charts helped by the No. 86 chart hit "Don't Eat The
Yellow Snow". Other albums from the period are Over-Nite Sensation
(1973), which contained several future concert favorites, such as
"Dinah-Moe Humm" and "Montana", and the albums Roxy & Elsewhere
(1974) and One Size Fits All (1975) which feature ever-changing
versions of a band still called the Mothers, and are notable for the
tight renditions of highly difficult jazz fusion songs in such pieces
as "Inca Roads", "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" and "Be-Bop Tango (Of the
Old Jazzmen's Church)".:114–122 A live recording from 1974, You
Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (1988), captures "the full
spirit and excellence of the 1973–75 band".:114–122 Zappa
Bongo Fury (1975), which featured a live recording at the
Armadillo World Headquarters
Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin from a tour the same year that
reunited him with
Captain Beefheart for a brief period.:248 They
later became estranged for a period of years, but were in contact at
the end of Zappa's life.:372
Business breakups and touring
Zappa with Captain Beefheart, seated left, during a 1975 concert
Zappa's relationship with long-time manager
Herb Cohen ended in 1976.
Zappa sued Cohen for skimming more than he was allocated from DiscReet
Records, as well as for signing acts of which Zappa did not
approve.:250 Cohen filed a lawsuit against Zappa in return, which
froze the money Zappa and Cohen had gained from an out-of-court
settlement with MGM over the rights of the early Mothers of Invention
recordings. It also prevented Zappa having access to any of his
previously recorded material during the trials. Zappa therefore took
his personal master copies of the rock-oriented
Zoot Allures (1976)
directly to Warner Bros., thereby bypassing DiscReet.:253,
In the mid-1970s Zappa prepared material for
"leather"), a four-LP project.
Läther encapsulated all the aspects of
Zappa's musical styles—rock tunes, orchestral works, complex
instrumentals, and Zappa's own trademark distortion-drenched guitar
solos. Wary of a quadruple-LP,
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records refused to release
it.:131 Zappa managed to get an agreement with Phonogram Inc., and
test pressings were made targeted at a Halloween 1977 release, but
Warner Bros. prevented the release by claiming rights over the
material.:261 Zappa responded by appearing on the Pasadena,
California radio station KROQ, allowing them to broadcast
encouraging listeners to make their own tape recordings.:248 A
lawsuit between Zappa and
Warner Bros. followed, during which no Zappa
material was released for more than a year. Eventually, Warner Bros.
issued different versions of much of the
Läther material in 1978 and
1979 as four individual albums (five full-length LPs) with limited
Although Zappa eventually gained the rights to all his material
created under the MGM and
Warner Bros. contracts,:49 the various
lawsuits meant that for a period Zappa's only income came from
touring, which he therefore did extensively in 1975–77 with
relatively small, mainly rock-oriented, bands.:261 Drummer Terry
Bozzio became a regular band member,
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Napoleon Murphy Brock stayed on
for a while, and original Mothers of Invention bassist Roy Estrada
joined. Among other musicians were bassist Patrick O'Hearn,
Ray White and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. In
December 1976, Zappa appeared as a featured musical guest on the NBC
television show Saturday Night Live.:262 Zappa's song "I'm the
Slime" was performed with a voice-over by SNL booth announcer Don
Pardo, who also introduced "Peaches En Regalia" on the same airing. In
1978, Zappa served both as host and musical act on the show, and as an
actor in various sketches. The performances included an impromptu
musical collaboration with cast member
John Belushi during the
instrumental piece "The Purple Lagoon". Belushi appeared as his
Samurai Futaba character playing the tenor sax with Zappa
Zappa in Toronto, 1977
Zappa's band at the time, with the additions of
Ruth Underwood and a
horn section (featuring Michael and Randy Brecker), performed during
Christmas in New York, recordings of which appear on one of the albums
Warner Bros. culled from the
Läther project, Zappa in New York
(1978). It mixes complex instrumentals such as "The Black Page" and
humorous songs like "Titties and Beer".:132 The former
composition, written originally for drum kit but later developed for
larger bands, is notorious for its complexity in rhythmic structure
and short, densely arranged passages.
The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page #1
One of Zappa's complex, percussion-based compositions featured on
Zappa in New York.
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Zappa in New York
Zappa in New York featured a song about sex criminal Michael H.
Kenyon, "The Illinois Enema Bandit", which featured Don Pardo
providing the opening narrative in the song. Like many songs on the
album, it contained numerous sexual references,:132 leading to
many critics objecting and being offended by the
content.:134:261–262 Zappa dismissed the criticism by noting
that he was a journalist reporting on life as he saw it.:234
Predating his later fight against censorship, he remarked: "What do
you make of a society that is so primitive that it clings to the
belief that certain words in its language are so powerful that they
could corrupt you the moment you hear them?" The remaining albums
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records without Zappa's consent were Studio
Tan in 1978 and
Sleep Dirt and
Orchestral Favorites in 1979, which
contained complex suites of instrumentally-based tunes recorded
between 1973 and 1976, and whose release was overlooked in the midst
of the legal problems.:138
"Bobby Brown" (1976)
The single became a hit in non-English speaking countries and helped
Sheik Yerbouti become a best-seller.:351
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Resolving the lawsuits successfully, Zappa ended the 1970s "stronger
than ever",:140 by releasing two of his most successful albums in
1979: the best selling album of his career, Sheik Yerbouti, and in
Kelley Lowe's opinion the "bona fide masterpiece",:140 Joe's
The double album
Sheik Yerbouti was the first release on Zappa
Records, and contained the Grammy-nominated single "Dancin' Fool",
which reached No. 45 on the Billboard charts, and "Jewish
Princess", which received attention when a Jewish group, the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), attempted to prevent the song from
receiving radio airplay due to its alleged anti-Semitic
lyrics.:234 Zappa vehemently denied any anti-Semitic sentiments,
and dismissed the ADL as a "noisemaking organization that tries to
apply pressure on people in order to manufacture a stereotype image of
Jews that suits their idea of a good time." The album's commercial
success was attributable in part to "Bobby Brown". Due to its explicit
lyrics about a young man's encounter with a "dyke by the name of
Freddie", the song did not get airplay in the U.S., but it topped the
charts in several European countries where English is not the primary
language.:351 The triple LP
Joe's Garage featured lead singer Ike
Willis as the voice of the character "Joe" in a rock opera about the
danger of political systems,:140 the suppression of freedom of
speech and music—inspired in part by the
Islamic revolution that had
made music illegal within its jurisdiction at the time:277—and
about the "strange relationship Americans have with sex and sexual
frankness".:140 The album contains rock songs like "Catholic
Girls" (a riposte to the controversies of "Jewish Princess"),:59
"Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up", and the title track, as well as
extended live-recorded guitar improvisations combined with a studio
backup band dominated by drummer
Vinnie Colaiuta (with whom Zappa had
a particularly good musical rapport):180 adopting the xenochrony
process. The album contains one of Zappa's most famous guitar
"signature pieces", "Watermelon in Easter Hay".:61
On December 21, 1979, Zappa's movie
Baby Snakes premiered in New York.
The movie's tagline was "A movie about people who do stuff that is not
normal". The 2 hour and 40 minutes movie was based on
footage from concerts in New York around Halloween 1977, with a band
Tommy Mars and percussionist
Ed Mann (who would
both return on later tours) as well as guitarist Adrian Belew. It also
contained several extraordinary sequences of clay animation by Bruce
Bickford who had earlier provided animation sequences to Zappa for a
1974 TV special (which became available on the 1982 video The Dub Room
Special).:282 The movie did not do well in theatrical
distribution, but won the Premier Grand Prix at the First
International Music Festival in Paris in 1981.:282
Zappa later expanded on his television appearances in a non-musical
role. He was an actor or voice artist in episodes of Shelley Duvall's
Faerie Tale Theatre, Miami Vice:343 and The Ren & Stimpy
Show. A voice part in
The Simpsons never materialized, to creator
Matt Groening's disappointment (Groening was a neighbor of Zappa and a
Zappa performing at the Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, 1980.
The concert was released in 2007 as Buffalo.
In 1980, Zappa cut his ties with record distributor Phonogram after
the label refused to release his song "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted".
It was picked up by
CBS Records and released on the Zappa label in the
United States and Canada, and by the
CBS label internationally.
After spending much of 1980 on the road, Zappa released Tinsel Town
Rebellion in 1981. It was the first release on his own Barking Pumpkin
Records,:161 and it contains songs taken from a 1979 tour, one
studio track and material from the 1980 tours. The album is a mixture
of complicated instrumentals and Zappa's use of sprechstimme (speaking
song or voice) — a compositional technique utilized by such
Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg—showcasing some of the
most accomplished bands Zappa ever had (mostly featuring drummer
Vinnie Colaiuta).:161 While some lyrics still raised controversy
among critics, some of whom found them sexist,:284 the political
and sociological satire in songs like the title track and "The Blue
Light" have been described as a "hilarious critique of the willingness
of the American people to believe anything".:165 The album is also
notable for the presence of guitarist Steve Vai, who joined Zappa's
touring band in late 1980.:283
The same year the double album
You Are What You Is
You Are What You Is was released. Most
of it was recorded in Zappa's brand new Utility Muffin Research
Kitchen (UMRK) studios, which were located at his house, thereby
giving him complete freedom in his work.:269 The album included
one complex instrumental, "Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister
Footwear", but mainly consisted of rock songs with Zappa's sardonic
social commentary—satirical lyrics directed at teenagers, the media,
and religious and political hypocrisy. "Dumb All Over" is a tirade
on religion, as is "Heavenly Bank Account", wherein Zappa rails
against TV evangelists such as
Jerry Falwell and
Pat Robertson for
their purported influence on the U.S. administration as well as their
use of religion as a means of raising money.:169–175 Songs like
"Society Pages" and "I'm a Beautiful Guy" show Zappa's dismay with the
Reagan era and its "obscene pursuit of wealth and
Shut Up 'N Play Yer
Guitar Some More
The title track on Shut Up 'N Play Yer
Guitar features Zappa's guitar
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In 1981, Zappa also released three instrumental albums, Shut Up 'n
Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up 'N Play Yer
Guitar Some More, and The Return
of the Son of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar, which were initially sold
via mail order, but later released through the
CBS label due to
The albums focus exclusively on
Frank Zappa as a guitar soloist, and
the tracks are predominantly live recordings from 1979 to 1980; they
highlight Zappa's improvisational skills with "beautiful performances
from the backing group as well". Another guitar-only album,
Guitar, was released in 1988, and a third, Trance-Fusion, which Zappa
completed shortly before his death, was released in 2006.
"Valley Girl" and classical performances
In May 1982, Zappa released Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning
Witch, which featured his biggest selling single ever, the Grammy
Award-nominated song "Valley Girl" (topping out at No. 32 on the
Billboard charts). In her improvised lyrics to the song, Zappa's
daughter Moon Unit satirized the patois of teenage girls from the San
Fernando Valley, which popularized many "Valspeak" expressions such as
"gag me with a spoon", "fer sure, fer sure", "grody to the max", and
In 1983, two different projects were released, beginning with The Man
from Utopia, a rock-oriented work. The album is eclectic, featuring
the vocal-led "Dangerous Kitchen" and "The
Jazz Discharge Party Hats",
both continuations of the sprechstimme excursions on Tinseltown
Rebellion. The second album, London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I,
contained orchestral Zappa compositions conducted by
Kent Nagano and
performed by the London Symphony
Orchestra (LSO). A second record of
London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II
London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II was released in
1987. The material was recorded under a tight schedule with Zappa
providing all funding, helped by the commercial success of "Valley
Girl".:146–156 Zappa was not satisfied with the LSO recordings.
One reason is "Strictly Genteel", which was recorded after the trumpet
section had been out for drinks on a break: the track took 40 edits to
hide out-of-tune notes.:146–156
Conductor Nagano, who was pleased with the experience, noted that "in
fairness to the orchestra, the music is humanly very, very
difficult".:315 Some reviews noted that the recordings were the
best representation of Zappa's orchestral work so far. In 1984
Zappa teamed again with Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
for a live performance of A Zappa Affair with augmented orchestra,
life-size puppets, and moving stage sets. Although critically
acclaimed the work was a financial failure, and only performed twice.
Zappa was invited by conference organizer Thomas Wells to be the
keynote speaker at the American Society of University Composers at the
Ohio State University. It was there Zappa delivered his famous "Bingo!
There Goes Your Tenure" address, and had two of his orchestra
pieces, "Dupree's Paradise" and "Naval Aviation in Art?" performed by
Columbus Symphony and ProMusica Chamber
Naval Aviation in Art?
A Zappa composition for classical ensemble from Boulez Conducts Zappa:
The Perfect Stranger
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For the remainder of his career, much of Zappa's work was influenced
by his use of the
Synclavier as a compositional and performance tool.
Even considering the complexity of the music he wrote, the Synclavier
could realize anything he could dream up.:172–173 The Synclavier
could be programmed to play almost anything conceivable, to
perfection: "With the Synclavier, any group of imaginary instruments
can be invited to play the most difficult passages ... with
one-millisecond accuracy—every time".:172–173 Even though it
essentially did away with the need for musicians,:319 Zappa viewed
Synclavier and real-life musicians as separate.:172–173
In 1984, he released four albums. Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect
Stranger contains orchestral works commissioned and conducted by
celebrated conductor, composer and pianist
Pierre Boulez (who was
listed as an influence on Freak Out!), and performed by his Ensemble
InterContemporain. These were juxtaposed with premiere Synclavier
pieces. Again, Zappa was not satisfied with the performances of his
orchestral works, regarding them as under-rehearsed, but in the album
liner notes he respectfully thanks Boulez's demands for
Synclavier pieces stood in contrast to the
orchestral works, as the sounds were electronically generated and not,
as became possible shortly thereafter, sampled.
Thing-Fish was an ambitious three-record set in the style of
a Broadway play dealing with a dystopian "what-if" scenario involving
feminism, homosexuality, manufacturing and distribution of the AIDS
virus, and a eugenics program conducted by the United States
government. New vocals were combined with previously released
tracks and new
Synclavier music; "the work is an extraordinary example
Francesco Zappa, a
Synclavier rendition of works by 18th-century
Francesco Zappa was also released in 1984.
Digital medium and last tour
Around 1986, Zappa undertook a comprehensive re-release program of his
earlier vinyl recordings.:340 He personally oversaw the
remastering of all his 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s albums for the new
digital compact disc medium.[nb 8] Certain aspects of these re-issues
were criticized by some fans as being unfaithful to the original
recordings. Nearly twenty years before the advent of online music
stores, Zappa had proposed to replace "phonographic record
merchandising" of music by "direct digital-to-digital transfer"
through phone or cable TV (with royalty payments and consumer billing
automatically built into the accompanying software).:337–339 In
1989, Zappa considered his idea a "miserable flop".:337–339
Jazz from Hell, released in 1986, earned Zappa his first
Grammy Award in 1988 for Best Rock
Instrumental Performance. Except
for one live guitar solo ("St. Etienne"), the album exclusively
featured compositions brought to life by the Synclavier. Although an
instrumental album, containing no lyrics, Meyer Music Markets sold
Jazz from Hell featuring an "explicit lyrics" sticker—a warning
label introduced by the
Recording Industry Association of America in
an agreement with the
Parents Music Resource Center
Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).
Zappa's last tour in a rock and jazz band format took place in 1988
with a 12-piece group which had a repertoire of over 100 (mostly
Zappa) compositions, but which split under acrimonious circumstances
before the tour was completed.:346–350 The tour was documented
on the albums
Broadway the Hard Way
Broadway the Hard Way (new material featuring songs with
strong political emphasis); The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life
(Zappa "standards" and an eclectic collection of cover tunes, ranging
from Maurice Ravel's
Boléro to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven);
and Make a
Jazz Noise Here. Parts are also found on You Can't Do That
on Stage Anymore, volumes 4 and 6. Recordings from this tour also
appear on the 2006 album Trance-Fusion.
One of Zappa's works for
Synclavier on Civilization Phaze III, cited
as his "last great work".:100
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In 1990, Zappa was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. The
disease had been developing unnoticed for ten years and was considered
inoperable. After the diagnosis, Zappa devoted most of his energy
to modern orchestral and
Synclavier works. Shortly before his death in
1993 he completed Civilization Phaze III, a major
which he had begun in the 1980s.:374–375[nb 9]
In 1991, Zappa was chosen to be one of four featured composers at the
Frankfurt Festival in 1992 (the others were John Cage, Karlheinz
Stockhausen, and Alexander Knaifel). Zappa was approached by the
German chamber ensemble
Ensemble Modern which was interested in
playing his music for the event. Although ill, he invited them to Los
Angeles for rehearsals of new compositions and new arrangements of
older material.:369 Zappa also got along with the musicians, and
the concerts in Germany and Austria were set up for later in the
year.:369 Zappa also performed in 1991 in Prague, claiming that
"was the first time that he had a reason to play his guitar in 3
years", and that that moment was just "the beginning of a new
country", and asked the public to "try to keep your country unique, do
not change it into something else".
In September 1992, the concerts went ahead as scheduled but Zappa
could only appear at two in Frankfurt due to illness. At the first
concert, he conducted the opening "Overture", and the final "G-Spot
Tornado" as well as the theatrical "Food Gathering in Post-Industrial
America, 1992" and "Welcome to the United States" (the remainder of
the program was conducted by the ensemble's regular conductor Peter
Rundel). Zappa received a 20-minute ovation.:371 G-Spot Tornado
was performed with Canadian dancer Louise Lecavalier. It was his last
professional public appearance as the cancer was spreading to such an
extent that he was in too much pain to enjoy an event that he
otherwise found "exhilarating".:371 Recordings from the concerts
The Yellow Shark
The Yellow Shark (1993), Zappa's last release during his
lifetime, and some material from studio rehearsals appeared on the
Everything Is Healing Nicely
Everything Is Healing Nicely (1999).
Zappa died, after his long battle with prostate cancer, on December 4,
1993, just 18 days before his 53rd birthday at his home with his wife
and children by his side. At a private ceremony the following day, his
body was buried in a grave at the Westwood Village Memorial Park
Cemetery, in Los Angeles. The grave is unmarked.:552:379–380
On December 6, his family publicly announced that "Composer Frank
Zappa left for his final tour just before 6:00 pm on
Musical style and development
Performing in 1973
The general phases of Zappa's music have been variously categorized
under experimental rock, jazz, classical, avant-pop,
experimental pop, comedy rock, doo-wop, jazz fusion,
progressive rock, electronic, proto-prog, avant-jazz,
and psychedelic rock. He generally did not have discrete periods
where he performed one style or another but blended them together and
reverted back as it interested him but his last studio album—1986's
Jazz from Hell—marked a shift toward live orchestral performance for
the last several years of his life.
Zappa grew up influenced by avant-garde composers such as Edgard
Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern; 1950s blues artists
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown,
Guitar Slim, Johnny
Guitar Watson, and
B.B. King; R&B and doo-wop groups (particularly local pachuco
groups); and modern jazz. His own heterogeneous ethnic background, and
the diverse social and cultural mix in and around greater Los Angeles,
were crucial in the formation of Zappa as a practitioner of
underground music and of his later distrustful and openly critical
attitude towards "mainstream" social, political and musical movements.
He frequently lampooned musical fads like psychedelia, rock opera and
disco.:13[nb 10] Television also exerted a strong influence, as
demonstrated by quotations from show themes and advertising jingles
found in his later works.
Zappa's albums make extensive use of segued tracks, breaklessly
joining the elements of his albums. His total output is unified by
a conceptual continuity he termed "Project/Object", with numerous
musical phrases, ideas, and characters reappearing across his
albums. He also called it a "conceptual continuity", meaning that
any project or album was part of a larger project. Everything was
connected, and musical themes and lyrics reappeared in different form
on later albums. Conceptual continuity clues are found throughout
Zappa's entire œuvre.:160
Zappa is widely recognized as one of the most significant electric
guitar soloists. In a 1983 issue of
Guitar World, Jon Swenson
declared: "the fact of the matter is that [Zappa] is one of the
greatest guitarists we have and is sorely unappreciated as such."
His idiosyncratic style developed gradually and was mature by the
early 1980s, by which time his live performances featured lengthy
improvised solos during many songs. A November 2016 feature by the
Guitar Player magazine wrote: "Brimming with sophisticated
motifs and convoluted rhythms, Zappa's extended excursions are more
akin to symphonies than they are to guitar solos." The symphonic
comparison stems from his habit of introducing melodic themes that,
like a symphony's main melodies, were repeated with variations
throughout his solos. He was further described as using a wide variety
of scales and modes, enlivened by "unusual rhythmic combinations". His
left hand was capable of smooth legato technique, while Zappa's right
was "one of the fastest pick hands in the business."
His song "Outside Now" from
Joe's Garage poked fun at the negative
reception of Zappa's guitar technique by those more commercially
minded, as the song's narrator lives in a world where music is
outlawed and he imagines "imaginary guitar notes that would
irritate/An executive kind of guy", lyrics that are followed by one of
Zappa's characteristically quirky solos in 11/8 time. Zappa
transcriptionist Kasper Sloots wrote, "Zappa's guitar solos aren't
meant to show off technically (Zappa hasn't claimed to be a big
virtuoso on the instrument), but for the pleasure it gives trying to
build a composition right in front of an audience without knowing what
the outcome will be."
In New York, Zappa increasingly used tape editing as a compositional
tool.:160 A prime example is found on the double album Uncle Meat
(1969), where the track "King Kong" is edited from various studio
and live performances. Zappa had begun regularly recording
concerts,[nb 11] and because of his insistence on precise tuning and
timing, he was able to augment his studio productions with excerpts
from live shows, and vice versa. Later, he combined recordings of
different compositions into new pieces, irrespective of the tempo or
meter of the sources. He dubbed this process "xenochrony" (strange
synchronizations)—reflecting the Greek "xeno" (alien or strange)
and "chronos" (time).
Zappa was married to Kathryn J. "Kay" Sherman from 1960 to 1963. In
1967, he married Adelaide Gail Sloatman. He and his second
wife had four children: Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.
Following Zappa's death, his widow Gail created the Zappa Family
Trust, which owns the rights to a massive trove of music and other
creative output: more than 60 albums were released during Zappa's
lifetime and 40 posthumously that are potentially worth at least tens
of millions of dollars. Upon Gail's death in October 2015, it was
revealed that Zappa's youngest children, Ahmet and Diva, were given
control of the trust with shares of 30% each, while his older children
Moon and Dweezil were given smaller shares of 20% each. As
beneficiaries only, Moon and Dweezil will not see any money from the
trust until it is profitable—in 2016, it was "millions of dollars in
debt"—and must seek permission from Ahmet, the trustee, to make
money off their father's music or merchandise bearing his name.
The uneven divide of the trust has resulted in several conflicts
between Zappa's children, including a feud between Dweezil and Ahmet
over Dweezil's use of his father's music in live performances.
Beliefs and politics
Zappa stated that he tried smoking cannabis approximately ten times,
but without any pleasure or result beyond sleepiness and sore throat,
and "never used LSD, never used cocaine, never used heroin or any of
that other stuff." Zappa stated, "Drugs do not become a problem
until the person who uses the drugs does something to you, or does
something that would affect your life that you don't want to have
happen to you, like an airline pilot who crashes because he was full
of drugs." He was a heavy tobacco smoker for most of his life,
and strongly critical of anti-tobacco campaigns.[nb 12]
While he disapproved of drug use, he criticized the War on Drugs,
comparing it to alcohol prohibition, and stated that the United States
Treasury would benefit from the decriminalization and regulation of
drugs.:329 Describing his philosophical views, Zappa stated, "I
believe that people have a right to decide their own destinies; people
own themselves. I also believe that, in a democracy, government exists
because (and only so long as) individual citizens give it a 'temporary
license to exist'—in exchange for a promise that it will behave
itself. In a democracy, you own the government—it doesn't own
you.":315–16, 323–24; 329–30
Government and religion
Zappa with Václav Havel, 1990
In a 1991 interview, Zappa reported that he was a registered Democrat
but added "that might not last long—I'm going to shred that".
Describing his political views, Zappa categorized himself as a
"practical conservative".[nb 13] He favored limited government and low
taxes; he also stated that he approved of national defense, social
security, and other federal programs, but only if recipients of such
programs are willing and able to pay for them.:315–16, 323–24;
329–30 He favored capitalism, entrepreneurship, and independent
business, stating that musicians could make more from owning their own
businesses than from collecting royalties. He opposed communism,
stating, "A system that doesn't allow ownership ... has—to put
it mildly—a fatal design flaw.":315–16, 323–24; 329–30 He
had always encouraged his fans to register to vote on album covers,
and throughout 1988 he had registration booths at his
concerts.:348 He even considered running for president of the
United States as an independent.:365
Zappa was often characterized as an atheist. He
recalled his parents being "pretty religious" and trying to make him
go to Catholic school despite his resentment. He felt disgust towards
organized religion (Christianity in particular) because he believed
that it promoted ignorance and anti-intellectualism. On Dweezil's
birth certificate, Frank wrote "musician" for "father's
religion". Some of his songs, concert performances, interviews
and public debates in the 1980s criticized and derided Republicans and
their policies, President Ronald Reagan, the Strategic Defense
Initiative (SDI), televangelism, and the Christian Right, and warned
that the United States government was in danger of becoming a "fascist
In early 1990, Zappa visited
Czechoslovakia at the request of
President Václav Havel. Havel designated him as Czechoslovakia's
Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism".
Havel was a lifelong fan of Zappa, who had great influence in the
avant-garde and underground scene in Central Europe in the 1970s and
1980s (a Czech rock group that was imprisoned in 1976 took its name
from Zappa's 1968 song "Plastic People"). Under pressure from
Secretary of State James Baker, Zappa's posting was withdrawn.
Havel made Zappa an unofficial cultural attaché
instead.:357–361 Zappa planned to develop an international
consulting enterprise to facilitate trade between the former Eastern
Bloc and Western businesses.
Zappa expressed opinions on censorship when he appeared on CNN's
Crossfire TV series and debated issues with Washington Times
John Lofton in 1986. On September 19, 1985, Zappa
testified before the
United States Senate
United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and
Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center
or PMRC, a music organization co-founded by Tipper Gore, wife of
then-senator Al Gore. The PMRC consisted of many wives of politicians,
including the wives of five members of the committee, and was founded
to address the issue of song lyrics with sexual or satanic
content. During Zappa’s testimony, he states that there is
clearly a conflict of interest between the PMRC due to the relations
of its founders to the politicians who are trying to pass what he
referred to as the Blank Tape Tax. Kandy Stroud, a spokeswoman for the
PMRC announced that Senator Gore (husband of Tipper Gore, who
co-founded the committee) is a co-sponsor of this legislation. He
suggests that record labels are trying to get the bill passed quickly
through committees, one of which is chaired by senator Thurmond, who
is also affiliated with the PMRC. Zappa points out that this committee
is being used as a distraction from this bill being passed, which
would lead only to the benefit of a select view in the music
industry. Zappa saw their activities as on a path towards
censorship,:267 and called their proposal for voluntary labelling
of records with explicit content "extortion" of the music
In his prepared statement, he said:
The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to
deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties
of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy
for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems
inherent in the proposal's design. It is my understanding that, in
law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the
least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are
the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation. ... The
establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the
door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on
things certain Christians do not like. What if the next bunch of
Washington wives demands a large yellow "J" on all material written or
performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to
concealed Zionist doctrine?
Zappa set excerpts from the PMRC hearings to
Synclavier music in his
composition "Porn Wars" on the 1985 album
Frank Zappa Meets the
Mothers of Prevention, and the full recording was released in 2010 as
Congress Shall Make No Law...
Congress Shall Make No Law... Zappa is heard interacting with Senators
Slade Gorton and Al Gore.
Acclaim and honors
Frank Zappa was one of the first to try tearing down the barriers
between rock, jazz, and classical music. In the late Sixties his
Mothers of Invention would slip from Stravinsky's "Petroushka" into
The Dovells' "Bristol Stomp" before breaking down into saxophone
squeals inspired by Albert Ayler
Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll
Zappa earned widespread critical acclaim in his lifetime and after his
Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) writes: "Frank Zappa
dabbled in virtually all kinds of music—and, whether guised as a
satirical rocker, jazz-rock fusionist, guitar virtuoso, electronics
wizard, or orchestral innovator, his eccentric genius was
undeniable." Even though his work drew inspiration from many
different genres, Zappa was seen as establishing a coherent and
In 1971, biographer David Walley noted that "The whole structure of
his music is unified, not neatly divided by dates or time sequences
and it is all building into a composite". On commenting on
Zappa's music, politics and philosophy,
Barry Miles noted in 2004 that
they cannot be separated: "It was all one; all part of his 'conceptual
Frank Zappa in 1977
Guitar Player devoted a special issue to Zappa in 1992, and asked on
the cover "Is FZ America's Best Kept Musical Secret?" Editor Don Menn
remarked that the issue was about "The most important composer to come
out of modern popular music".
Among those contributing to the issue was composer and musicologist
Nicolas Slonimsky, who conducted premiere performances of works of
Ives and Varèse in the 1930s. He became friends with Zappa in
the 1980s, and said, "I admire everything Frank does, because he
practically created the new musical millennium. He does beautiful,
beautiful work ... It has been my luck to have lived to see the
emergence of this totally new type of music."
Kent Nagano remarked in the same issue that "Frank is a
genius. That's a word I don't use often ... In Frank's case it is
not too strong ... He is extremely literate musically. I'm not
sure if the general public knows that."
Pierre Boulez told
Musician magazine's posthumous Zappa tribute article that Zappa "was
an exceptional figure because he was part of the worlds of rock and
classical music and that both types of his work would survive."
In 1994, jazz magazine Down Beat's critics poll placed Zappa in its
Hall of Fame. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. There, it was written that "
Frank Zappa was
rock and roll's sharpest musical mind and most astute social critic.
He was the most prolific composer of his age, and he bridged
genres—rock, jazz, classical, avant-garde and even novelty
music—with masterful ease". He received the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award in 1997. He was ranked number 36 on VH1's 100
Greatest Artists of Hard Rock in 2000.
In 2005, the U.S.
National Recording Preservation Board included We're
Only in It for the Money in the
National Recording Registry
National Recording Registry as "Frank
Zappa's inventive and iconoclastic album presents a unique political
stance, both anti-conservative and anti-counterculture, and features a
scathing satire on hippiedom and America's reactions to it". The
Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 71 on its
list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
In 2011, he was ranked at No. 22 on the list of the 100 Greatest
Guitarists of All Time by the same magazine.
The street of
Partinico where his father lived at number 13, Via
Zammatà, has been renamed to Via Frank Zappa.
Artists influenced by Zappa
Many musicians, bands and orchestras from diverse genres have been
influenced by Zappa's music. Rock artists like Alice Cooper,
Larry LaLonde of Primus,
Fee Waybill of the Tubes all cite
Zappa's influence, as do progressive, alternative and experimental
rock artists like Can,[nb 14] Pere Ubu,[nb 15] Henry Cow, Trey
Anastasio of Phish, Jeff Buckley, Faust, John
Frusciante, Steven Wilson, and The Aristocrats. Paul
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as the
Beatles' Freak Out!, Jimi Hendrix, and heavy rock and metal
acts like Black Sabbath, Simon Phillips, Mike Portnoy,
Warren DeMartini, Steve Vai, Strapping Young Lad,
System of a Down, and Clawfinger acknowledge Zappa's
inspiration. On the classical music scene, Tomas Ulrich, Meridian
Arts Ensemble, Ensemble Ambrosius and the Fireworks
Ensemble regularly perform Zappa's compositions and quote his
influence. Contemporary jazz musicians and composers Bill Frisell
and John Zorn are inspired by Zappa, as is funk legend George
Other artists affected by Zappa include ambient composer Brian
Eno, new age pianist George Winston, electronic composer Bob
Gluck, parodist and novelty composer "Weird Al" Yankovic,
industrial music pioneer Genesis P-Orridge, and noise music
artist Masami Akita of Merzbow.
References in arts and sciences
Frank Zappa bust by Vaclav Cesak in Bad Doberan, Germany
Scientists from various fields have honored Zappa by naming new
discoveries after him. In 1967, paleontologist Leo P. Plas, Jr.
identified an extinct mollusc in Nevada and named it Amaurotoma zappa
with the motivation that, "The specific name, zappa, honors Frank
In the 1980s, biologist Ed Murdy named a genus of gobiid fishes of New
Guinea Zappa, with a species named Zappa confluentus. Biologist
Ferdinando Boero named a Californian jellyfish Phialella zappai
(1987), noting that he had "pleasure in naming this species after the
modern music composer".
Belgian biologists Bosmans and Bosselaers discovered in the early
1980s a Cameroonese spider, which they in 1994 named Pachygnatha zappa
because "the ventral side of the abdomen of the female of this species
strikingly resembles the artist's legendary moustache".
A gene of the bacterium
Proteus mirabilis that causes urinary tract
infections was in 1995 named zapA by three biologists from Maryland.
In their scientific article, they "especially thank the late Frank
Zappa for inspiration and assistance with genetic nomenclature".
Repeating regions of the genome of the human tumor virus KSHV were
named frnk, vnct and zppa in 1996 by the Moore and Chang who
discovered the virus. Also, a 143 base pair repeat sequence occurring
at two positions was named waka/jwka.
Frank Zappa monument in Vilnius, Lithuania
In the late 1990s, American paleontologists Marc Salak and Halard L.
Lescinsky discovered a metazoan fossil, and named it Spygori zappania
to honor "the late Frank Zappa ... whose mission paralleled that
of the earliest paleontologists: to challenge conventional and
traditional beliefs when such beliefs lacked roots in logic and
In 1994, lobbying efforts initiated by psychiatrist John Scialli led
the International Astronomical Union's
Minor Planet Center to name an
asteroid in Zappa's honor: 3834 Zappafrank. The asteroid was
discovered in 1980 by Czechoslovakian astronomer Ladislav Brožek, and
the citation for its naming says that "Zappa was an eclectic,
self-trained artist and composer ... Before 1989 he was regarded
as a symbol of democracy and freedom by many people in
Czechoslovakia". In 1995, a bust of Zappa by sculptor
Konstantinas Bogdanas was installed in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital
(54.683, 25.2759). The choice of Zappa was explained as "a symbol that
would mark the end of communism, but at the same time express that it
wasn't always doom and gloom." A replica was offered to the city
Baltimore in 2008, and on September 19, 2010 — the twenty-fifth
anniversary of Zappa's testimony to the U.S. Senate — a ceremony
dedicating the replica was held, and the bust was unveiled at a
library in the city.
In 2002, a bronze bust was installed in German city Bad Doberan,
location of the
Zappanale since 1990, an annual music festival
celebrating Zappa. At the initiative of musicians community
ORWOhaus, the city of Berlin named a street in the
"Frank-Zappa-Straße" in 2007. The same year,
Sheila Dixon proclaimed August 9 as the city's official "Frank Zappa
Day" citing Zappa's musical accomplishments as well as his defense of
the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Frank Zappa discography
During his lifetime, Zappa released 62 albums. Since 1994, the Zappa
Family Trust has released 49 posthumous albums, making a total of 111
albums. The current distributor of Zappa's recorded output is
Universal Music Enterprises.
Frank Zappa has sold more than 40
million records worldwide.
List of performers on
Frank Zappa records
^ Until discovering his birth certificate as an adult, Zappa believed
he had been christened "Francis Vincent Zappa" after his father, and
he is credited as Francis on some of his early albums. The name on his
birth certificate however is "Frank", not "Francis".:15
^ "My ancestry is Sicilian, Greek, Arab and French. My mother's mother
was French and Sicilian, and her Dad was Italian (from Naples). She
was first generation. The Greek-Arab side is from my Dad. He was born
in a Sicilian village called Partinico ...":15
^ On several of his earlier albums, Zappa paid tribute to Varèse by
quoting his: "The present-day composer refuses to die."
^ The initial orchestra-only recordings were released posthumously on
the box set
Lumpy Money (2009). See Dolan, Casey (December 8, 2008).
"The Resurrection of Frank Zappa's Soul". LA Weekly. Village Voice
Media. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
^ As the legal aspects of using the Sgt. Pepper concept were
unsettled, the album was released with the cover and back on the
inside of the gatefold, while the actual cover and back were a picture
of the group in a pose parodying the inside of the Beatles
^ During the June 1971 Fillmore concerts Zappa was joined on stage by
John Lennon and Yoko Ono. This performance was recorded, and Lennon
released excerpts on his album
Some Time in New York City
Some Time in New York City in 1972.
Zappa later released his version of excerpts from the concert on
Playground Psychotics in 1992, including the jam track "Scumbag" and
an extended avant-garde vocal piece by Ono (originally called "Au"),
which Zappa renamed "A Small Eternity with Yoko Ono".
^ When the music was first released on CD in 1991, Zappa chose to
rerelease the four existing albums.
Läther was released posthumously
in 1996. It remains debated whether Zappa had conceived the material
as a four-LP set from the beginning, or only when approaching
Phonogram.:49 In the liner notes to the 1996 release, Gail Zappa
states that "As originally conceived by Frank,
Läther was always a
4-record box set."
^ For a comprehensive comparison of vinyl of CD releases, see "The
Frank Zappa Album Versions Guide – Index". The Zappa Patio.
lukpac.org/~handmade/patio. Retrieved January 7, 2008. [permanent
^ It brought him a posthumous
Grammy Award (with Gail Zappa) for Best
Recording Package – Boxed in 1994. "Grammy Winners". National
Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 18,
^ Among his many musical satires are the 1967 songs "Flower Punk"
(which parodies the song "Hey Joe") and "Who Needs the Peace Corps?",
which are critiques of the late-Sixties commercialization of the
^ In the process, he built up a vast archive of live recordings. In
the late 1980s some of these recordings were collected for the 12-CD
set You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore.
^ He considered such campaigns as yuppie inventions and noted that
"Some people like garlic. ... I like pepper, tobacco and coffee.
That's my metabolism".:234–235
^ "Politically, I consider myself to be a (don't laugh) 'Practical
Conservative'. I want a smaller, less intrusive government, and lower
taxes. What? You too?":315
^ "CAN was formed by ex-student of Stockhausen Irmin Schmidt, who,
fired by the sounds of
Jimi Hendrix and
Frank Zappa abandoned his
career in classic music to form a group which could utilise and
transcend all boundaries of ethnic, electronic experimental and modern
classical music." "CAN – The Lost Tapes". Spoon Records. Spoon
^ "The group is very influenced by Capt. Beefheart and Frank Zappa.
The roots of
Pere Ubu lie in a comedy cover band called Rocket from
the Tombs ..."George Gimarc (1994). Punk Diary: 1970–1979.
Vintage. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-09-952211-9. .
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae
af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Zappa, Frank; Occhiogrosso,
Peter (1989). Real
Frank Zappa Book. Simon and Schuster.
^ a b c d e f g Semley, John (August 9, 2012). "Where to dive into
Frank Zappa's weird, unwieldy discography". The A.V. Club.
Frank Zappa Biography & History AllMusic". AllMusic.
^ Whitaker, Sterling (December 4, 2015). "The Day
Frank Zappa Died".
Ultimate Classic Rock.
^ a b Maume, Chris (October 12, 2015). "Gail Zappa: Frank Zappa's
wife, muse and manager who ferociously protected his musical legacy".
^ Buckley, Peter (November 17, 2003). The Rough Guide to Rock: [The
Definitive Guide to More Than 1200 Artists and Bands] (3rd ed.).
London, United Kingdom: Rough Guides. p. 1211.
^ a b VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock
^ "100 Greatest Artists". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner.
^ "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner.
^ a b The New
Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, 1993.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae
af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb
bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by
bz ca cb cc cd ce Miles, Barry (2004). Frank Zappa. London: Atlantic
Books. ISBN 1-84354-092-4.
Radium Irradiation (NRI) and Cancer". National
Cancer Institute. January 2003. Archived from the original on April
^ a b c d e f g Slaven, Neil (2003). Electric Don Quixote: The
Definitive Story of
Frank Zappa (2nd ed.). Music Sales Group.
^ Mendoza, Bart (November 11, 2005). "Counter Culture Coincidence"
San Diego Troubadour. p. 4. Retrieved September 11,
^ a b Zappa, Frank (June 1971). "Edgard Varese: The Idol of My Youth".
Stereo Review: 61–62.
^ Zappa, Frank (December 1973). "Lyrics of Village Of The Sun".
Village Of The Sun, Roxy and Elsewhere. Retrieved October 20,
^ Dineen, Murray (2011). Friendly Remainders: Essays in Music
Criticism after Adorno. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 122.
ISBN 978-0-7735-8576-8. Extract of page 122
^ a b c d e f g h i Watson, Ben (1996). Frank Zappa: The Negative
Dialectics of Poodle Play. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
^ Miles, Barry (2014). Frank Zappa. Atlantic Books Ltd. p. 266.
ISBN 978-1-78239-678-9. Extract of page 266
^ Watson, Ben; Leslie, Esther (2005). Academy Zappa: Proceedings of
the First International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology (ICE-Z)
(illusdtrated ed.). SAF Publishing Ltd. p. 223.
ISBN 978-0-946719-79-2. Extract of page 223
^ Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, p. 23.
^ Gray, 1984, Mother!, p. 29.
^ Slaven, 1996, Electric Don Quixote, pp. 35–36.
^ Harp, Ted (March 1965). "Vice Squad Raids Local Film Studio". The
Daily Report. Ontario, California.
^ Slaven, 1996, Electric Don Quixote, p. 40.
^ a b Swenson, John (March 1980). "Frank Zappa: America's Weirdest
Rock Star Comes Clean". High Times.
^ Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, p. 58.
^ Nigel Leigh (March 1993). "Interview with Frank Zappa" (BBC Late
Show). UMRK, Los Angeles, CA: BBC [TV Show].
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Lowe,
Kelly Fisher (2006). The Words and Music of Frank Zappa. Westport:
Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-98779-5.
^ Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, pp. 60–61.
^ a b c d e f g h i Watson, Ben (2005). Frank Zappa. The Complete
Guide to His Music. London: Omnibus Press.
^ "How We Made It Sound That Way", interview on WDET Detroit, November
13, 1967 (excerpt included as part of the MOFO album, 2006)
^ Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, p. 86.
^ Couture, François. "Lumpy Gravy. Review". AllMusic. Retrieved
January 2, 2008.
^ James, 2000, Necessity Is ..., pp. 62–69.
^ Huey, Steve. "We're Only in It for the Money. Review". AllMusic.
Retrieved January 2, 2008.
^ Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, p. 90.
^ Cox and Warner, 2004, Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, p.
^ September – October 1968: The 2nd European tour, zappateers.com
^ Couture, François. "
Peaches en Regalia
Peaches en Regalia [Song Review]". AllMusic.
Retrieved April 11, 2010.
^ a b Walley, 1980, No Commercial Potential, p. 116.
^ Huey, Steve. "Hot Rats. Review". AllMusic. Retrieved January 2,
^ Starks, 1982, Cocaine Fiends and Reefer Madness, p. 153.
^ Official recordings of these bands did not emerge until more than
30 years later on Wazoo (2007) and
Imaginary Diseases (2006),
Frank Zappa > Charts and Awards > Billboard Albums".
AllMusic. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
^ Huey, Steve. "Apostrophe ('). Review". AllMusic. Retrieved January
^ Zappa, Frank, 1978, Zappa in New York, Liner Notes.
^ Clement, Brett (2004). "Little dots: A study of the melodies of the
Frank Zappa (PDF)" (PDF). Master Thesis. The
Florida State University, School of Music. pp. 25–48. Archived
from the original (PDF) on February 16, 2008. Retrieved December 29,
^ Hemmings, Richard (2006). "Ever wonder why your daughter looked so
sad? Non-danceable beats: getting to grips with rhythmical
unpredictability in Project/Object". richardhemmings.co.uk. Retrieved
October 3, 2016.
^ Groening, Matt; Menn, Don (1992). "The Mother of All Interviews. Act
Matt Groening joins in on the scrutiny of the central
decentralizer". In Menn, Don. Zappa!
Guitar Player Presents. San
Francisco, CA: Miller Freeman. p. 61. ISSN 1063-4533.
^ Both albums made it onto the Billboard top 30."Frank Zappa>
Charts & Awards> Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved January
^ a b "Frank Zappa> Charts & Awards> Billboard Singles".
AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
^ Peterson, Chris (November 1979). "He's Only 38 and He Knows How to
Nasty". Relix Magazine.
^ The other signature pieces are "Zoot Allures" and "Black Napkins"
from Zoot Allures. See Zappa, Dweezil (1996). Greetings music lovers,
Dweezil here. Liner Notes,
Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa:
A Memorial Tribute.
^ Baby Snakes, 2003, DVD cover, Eagle Vision.
^ Sohmer, Adam (June 8, 2005). "Baby Snakes – DVD". Big Picture
Big Sound. Retrieved January 7, 2008.
^ a b
Frank Zappa profile on IMDb
^ Eliscu, Jenny (November 8, 2002). "Homer and Me". Rolling
^ Bruckner, D.J.R., ed. (2002).
The New York Times
The New York Times Guide to the Arts
of the 20th Century. Books.google.com. p. 3054.
ISBN 978-1-57958-290-6. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
Frank Zappa – I Don't Wanna Get Drafted! (Vinyl) at". discogs.
Retrieved April 30, 2012.
^ a b c Michie, Chris (January 2003). "We are The Mothers ... and
This Is What We Sound Like!". MixOnline.com. Archived from the
original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
^ Huey, Steve. "You Are What You Is. Review". AllMusic. Retrieved
January 7, 2008.
^ Zappa, Frank (November 1982). "Absolutely Frank. First Steps in Odd
Guitar Player Magazine: 116.
^ Swenson, John (November 1981). "Frank Zappa: Shut Up 'N Play Yer
Guitar, Shut Up 'N Play Yer
Guitar Some More, The Return of the Son of
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar".
^ Gulla, Bob (2009).
Guitar Gods: The 25 Players who Made Rock History
(illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 251.
ISBN 978-0-313-35806-7. Extract of page 251
^ Huey, Steve. ""Valley Girl" --song review". AllMusic. Retrieved
January 7, 2008.
^ Ruhlmann, William. "London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1. Review".
AllMusic. Retrieved January 7, 2008.
^ "A Zappa Affair". Globalia.net. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
^ Frank Zappa, "Bingo! There Goes Your Tenure" (1984) Archived 27 June
2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Kelp, Larry (June 18, 1984). "Zappa Pokes into The Fine Arts". The
Oakland Tribune. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
^ The musical was eventually produced for the stage in 2003. See
"Thing-Fish – The Return of Frank Zappa". The British Theatre
Guide. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
^ Carr, Paul; Hand, Richard J. (2007). "
Frank Zappa and musical
theatre: ugly ugly o'phan Annie and really deep, intense,
thought-provoking Broadway symbolism". Studies in Musical Theatre.
pp. 44–51. doi:10.1386/smt.1.1.41/1. Retrieved July 28,
2008. Full article available by free login only.
^ The Rough Guide to Rock (illustrated ed.). Rough Guides. 2003.
p. 2244. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6. Extract of page 2244
^ For example, new drum and bass parts were used on the 1960s albums
We're Only in It for the Money
We're Only in It for the Money and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets.
See Miles, 2004, Frank Zappa, p. 327.
^ Nuzum, Eric (2001). Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America.
HarperCollins. pp. 39, 255. ISBN 0-688-16772-1.
^ a b Ouellette, Dan (August 1993). "Frank Zappa". Pulse!.
^ Menn, Don, ed. (1992). "Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser—Preparing the
Ensemble Modern for the Frankfurt Festival". Zappa!
Presents. San Francisco, CA: Miller Freeman. pp. 12–13.
^ "Pražský Výběr—Adieu CA". Globalia.net. Retrieved
Frank Zappa Last Performance (
Prague 1991) on
YouTube at 3:50
^ a b c Rosenberg, Stuart (2009). Rock and Roll and the American
Landscape: The Birth of an Industry and the Expansion of the Popular
Culture, 1955–1969. iUniverse. p. 179.
^ Kozinn, Alann (May 11, 2006). "'Emerging Avant-Pop': From Charles
Ives to Frank Zappa". New York Times.
^ Landy, Leigh (1994). Experimental Music Notebooks. Taylor &
Francis. ISBN 978-3-7186-5554-0.
^ "Comedy rock". Allmusic.
^ Couture, François. "Cruising with Ruben & the Jets".
Frank Zappa made electronic music with a bicycle".
^ Greene, Doyle (2016). Rock, Counterculture and the Avant-Garde,
1966–1970: How the Beatles,
Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground
Defined an Era. McFarland. p. 182.
ISBN 978-1-4766-2403-7. Extract of page 182
^ Dan, Forte (January 1987). "
Frank Zappa On ... The '80s Guitar
Clone". Retrieved March 30, 2016.
^ Moorefield, Virgil (2010). The Producer as Composer: Shaping the
Sounds of Popular Music (illustrated ed.). MIT Press. p. 38.
^ a b For a comprehensive list of the appearance of parts of "old"
compositions or quotes from others' music in Zappa's catalogue, see
Albertos, Román García. "FZ Musical Quotes". Information is Not
Knowledge. globia.net/donlope. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
^ Corcelli, John (2016).
Frank Zappa FAQ: All That's Left to Know
About the Father of Invention. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 290.
ISBN 978-1-61713-673-3. Extract of page 290
Frank Zappa Talks Gear, Praises
Steve Vai in His First
Interview from 1982".
Guitar World. 2011-04-22. Retrieved
^ "Frank Zappa: Shut Up 'N Learn His
Guitar Techniques TAB + AUDIO".
GuitarPlayer. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
^ Franรงois Couture. ""Outside Now" –
Frank Zappa Song Info".
AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
^ "Shut up 'n play yer guitar". Zappa-analysis.com. Retrieved
^ James, 2000, Necessity Is ..., p. 104.
^ Bob Marshall, "Interview with Frank Zappa", October 22, 1988.
Frank Zappa death certificate" (PDF). Autopsyfiles.org. Retrieved
^ Moser, Margaret; Crawford, Bill (2007). Rock Stars Do The Dumbest
Things. Macmillan. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4299-7838-5.
Extract of page 260
^ Slaven, Neil (2009). Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story Of
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the Oxudercine Gobies (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae). Records of the
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Phialella zappai n.
sp., Phialella fragilis and Phialella sp. (Cnidaria, Leptomedusae,
Phialellidae) from central California". Journal of Natural History.
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Yan, Ming; Maddalena, Dawn; Preston Parry, J.; Peruzzi, Daniela;
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^ UMG sets
Frank Zappa re-releases Variety
Day, Nancy (2001). Censorship: Or Freedom of Expression?. Minneapolis:
Twenty-First Century Books, Lerner Publications.
Delville, Michel; Norris, Andrew (2005). Frank Zappa, Captain
Beefheart and the Secret History of Maximalism. Oxford: Salt
Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84471-059-1.
DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James with Holly George-Warren, eds. (1992).
Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. Jim Miller
(Original Editor) (3rd ed.). New York: Random House.
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James, Billy (2000). Necessity Is ...: The Early Years of Frank
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Martin, Bill (2002). Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles
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Frank Zappa. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9436-6.
Sparks, Michael (1982). Cocaine Fiends and Reefer Madness: An
Illustrated History of Drugs in the Movies. New York: Cornwall Books.
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Frank Zappa collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
"Frank Zappa". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
"How Could I Be Such a Fool?"
"Trouble Comin' Every Day"
"Who Are the Brain Police?"
"Big Leg Emma"
"Son of Suzy Creamcheese"
"Lonely Little Girl"
"Anyway the Wind Blows"
"Peaches en Regalia"
"Tell Me You Love Me"
"Tears Began to Fall"
"What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning"
"I'm the Slime"
"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"
"Du Bist Mein Sofa"
"Find Her Finer"
"Stick It Out"
"I Don't Wanna Get Drafted"
"Love of My Life"
"Harder Than Your Husband"
"You Are What You Is"
"The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou"
"Baby Take Your Teeth Out"
"The Girl in the Magnesium Dress"
"Sexual Harassment in the Workplace"
"Stairway to Heaven"
"The Adventures of Greggery Peccary"
"America Drinks & Goes Home"
"Are You Hung Up?"
"Billy the Mountain"
"The Black Page"
"Brown Shoes Don't Make It"
"Help, I'm a Rock"
"I Have Been in You"
"Let's Make the Water Turn Black"
"A Little Green Rosetta"
"Memories of El Monte"
"Nanook Rubs It"
"The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet"
"St.Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast"
"Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance"
"A Token of My Extreme"
"The Torture Never Stops"
"What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?"
"Who Needs the Peace Corps?"
"Willie the Pimp"
"Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station"
The Dub Room Special
Video from Hell
Does Humor Belong in Music?
The True Story of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels
The Amazing Mr. Bickford
The Torture Never Stops
A Token Of His Extreme
Roxy The Movie
Eat That Question:
Frank Zappa in His Own Words
In popular culture
Zappa Plays Zappa
Frankly a Cappella
Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa
Wild Man Fischer
Frank Zappa Book
Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention album discography
We're Only in It for the Money
Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Fillmore East – June 1971
Just Another Band from L.A.
The Grand Wazoo
Roxy & Elsewhere
One Size Fits All
Zappa in New York
Joe's Garage Act I
Joe's Garage Acts II & III
Tinsel Town Rebellion
Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar
Shut Up 'n Play Yer
Guitar Some More
Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar
You Are What You Is
Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
The Man from Utopia
London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I
Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
Them or Us
The Old Masters, Box I
Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention
Does Humor Belong in Music?
Jazz from Hell
London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2
Broadway the Hard Way
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life
Jazz Noise Here
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6
Ahead of Their Time
The Yellow Shark
works and live
Civilization Phaze III
The Lost Episodes
Everything Is Healing Nicely
One Shot Deal
Congress Shall Make No Law...
Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison
Road Tapes, Venue #1
Road Tapes, Venue #2
Roxy by Proxy
Dance Me This
Road Tapes, Venue #3
Frank Zappa for President
The Compleat Soundtrack
The Dub Room Special!
A Token of His Extreme
Roxy the Soundtrack
The **** of the Mothers
The Old Masters
Guitar World According to Frank Zappa
Beat the Boots
Beat the Boots
Beat the Boots II
Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute
Have I Offended Someone?
Son of Cheep Thrills
Beat the Boots
Beat the Boots III
Birthday Bundle series
The MOFO Project/Object
Lumpy Money Project/Object
Greasy Love Songs
The Crux of the Biscuit
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1995
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band (Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts,
Jaimoe, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks)
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Martha and the Vandellas
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(Ahmet Ertegun Award)
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