Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa


12/21/1940, Baltimore, Maryland, USA



Birth Name

Frank Vincent Zappa



Also Known As

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User Rating
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As a teenager, Zappa loved Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varse, and blues and doo-wop records. His albums include We're Only In It For The Money, Lumpy Gravy, Crusing With Ruben & The Jets, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Apostrophe', Thing-Fish, and the award-winning instrumental album Jazz From Hell. He,…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Frank was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 - cited as "rock and roll's sharpest musical mind and most astute social critic".

    • Zappa is the first, and thus far, the only artist to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll (1995) and the Jazz (1994) Halls of Fame.

    • Although he was awarded only two Grammys while he was alive, Zappa was posthumously given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

    • In 2005, the US National Recording Preservation Board included We're Only in It for the Money in the National Recording Registry - writing "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 … Zappa's radical audio editing and production techniques produced an eclectic blend of electronic, avant-garde and rock music that was influenced by composers such as Varese and Stravinsky, with pop melodies, virtuoso instrumental performances, verbal asides and sound effects that segue into a cohesive work … an electronic sound collage …".

    • In 1995, in Vilnius, Lithuania, a group of artists erected the world's only known statue of Frank Zappa.

    • In addition to his distinctive voice (which dropped a major third after he suffered a crushed larynx) and his virtuosic guitar playing, Frank was proficient on keyboards, drums, bass and Synclavier (an early sampler, synthesizer and sound processor).

    • A local newspaper article referring to him as "the Movie King of Cucamonga" caught the eye of local cops, who suspected that Frank was making pornographic films. He was approached by an undercover officer offering $100 for a "stag party" tape. As the faked "erotic" audio tape was about to be handed over, Zappa was arrested - the local paper reporting that "Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio … and arrested a self-styled movie producer." Police confiscated studio equipment and master tapes (many of which were never returned). Frank was threatened with the felony charge of "conspiracy to commit pornography", which was later reduced to a misdemeanor, for which he served 10 days in jail. The bizarre police entrapment and heavy-handed confiscation only served to further harden Zappa's already well-established anti-authoritarian personality.

    • With the money he earned from scoring Run Home Slow, Zappa purchased the small Pal Recording Studio (and its unique 5-track tape recorder) from engineer/innovator Paul Buff and renamed it Studio Z.

    • His high school English teacher, Don Cerveris, quit teaching and wrote a screenplay for what Zappa called "a super-cheap cowboy movie" - Run Home Slow (1965) - and helped Frank get his second professional film scoring job on it. Cerveris is included in the long list of names of people who helped and/or influenced Frank on the cover of Freak Out!.

    • After scoring "The World's Greatest Sinner", Frank appeared on The Steve Allen Show, speaking briefly about the movie and his soundtrack. The highlight of his appearance, however, was "a bicycle concerto" performed by "plucking spokes and blowing through the bike's handlebars". Zappa also created other strange and interesting sounds with the bike while accompanied spontaneously by the amused studio orchestra.

    • Zappa's first professional recording was a soundtrack for The World's Greatest Sinner (1962), an avant-garde, underground "cult classic" concerning a bored insurance salesman (played by Timothy Carey) who quits his day job to enter politics - attracting a growing group of followers who are drawn to his radical ideas about eternal life and begin to call him "God".

    • Zappa began composing classical music in high school, while playing drums in R&B bands.

    • In The Real Frank Zappa Book, Zappa reveals that producer Tom Wilson had taken LSD during the recording of Freak Out! : "I've tried to imagine what he must have been thinking, sitting in that control room, listening to all that weird sh*t coming out of the speakers, and being responsible for telling the engineer, Ami Hadani (who was not on acid), what to do."

    • The song "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body," from We're Only in It for the Money, was either inspired by, or inspired, a 1960's advertisement for "Pretty Feet Deodorant".

    • Originally thinking it had signed a "white blues band", Verve Records (MGM) was convinced by producer Tom Wilson to spend $25-35,000 to record Freak Out!, the first album by "The Mothers of Invention". At the time, this was an enormous sum for an unknown group. By contrast, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's cost approximately $60,000 to record, a record amount at the time. MGM was not happy once the total cost was known.

    • In 1989, Zappa wrote an autobiography/memoir co-written by Frank Occhiogrosso entitled The Real Frank Zappa Book. His official website calls the 1990 publication "the absolutely official book on Frank Zappa. 100% true and based entirely on reality." The New York Post was impressed, saying "This book belongs in every home."

    • Before Freak Out! was released, the record company (MGM) told Zappa that the band would have to change their name, saying no DJ would play a record by a group called "The Mothers". So the band's name was changed to The Mothers of Invention, in lieu of MGM's suggestion, "The Mothers Auxiliary".

    • On May 11 1980, Ladislav Brožek discovered a small asteroid which, after an internet campaign which included what may have been the first world-wide on-line petition, was named 3834 Zappafrank in honor of Frank Zappa.

    • In June of 1995, Christopher Wassif, Diana Cheek, and Robert Belas presented a paper entitled "Molecular Analysis of a Metalloprotease from Proteus mirabilis" in which they named "Gene Proteus Mirabilis ZapA", saying in their Acknowledgements : "We especially thank the late Frank Zappa for inspiration and assistance with genetic nomenclature."

  • Quotes

    • Zappa: Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read.

    • Zappa: I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.

    • Zappa: Tobacco is my favorite vegetable.

    • Zappa: It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice – there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.

    • Zappa: The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It's moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that's happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe ... When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very, very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun...

    • Zappa: Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.

    • Zappa: Communism doesn't work. It's against a basic law of nature : "PEOPLE WANT TO OWN STUFF."

    • Zappa: I like to watch the news, because I don't like people very much and when you watch the news ... if you ever had an idea that people were really terrible, you could watch the news and know that you're right.

    • Zappa: I'll tell you what classical music is - for those of you who don't know. Classical music is this music that was written by a bunch of dead people a long time ago. And it's formula music, the same as top forty music is formula music. In order to have a piece be classical, it has to conform to academic standards that were the current norms of that day and age ... I think that people are entitled to be amused, and entertained. If they see deviations from this classical norm, it's probably good for their mental health.

    • Zappa: On a personal level, Freaking Out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress, and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole.

    • Zappa: Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

    • Zappa: The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents - because they have a tame child-creature in their house.

    • Zappa: Light is just a vibration of a note, too. Everything is. You've got to keep that in mind.

    • Zappa: I have four children, and I want them to grow up in a country that has a working first amendment.

    • Zappa: Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.

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  • God.

    Frank Zappa is just..... God. My Favorite musician. (well, Tied with Pink Floyd) Frank Zappa is just, Awesome. That's really it. Well, Poodles are awesome, great googly moogly, Don't eat the yellow snow and Uhhhh, You know what I mean. Frank Zappa>Thriller>>>>>>>>>>>>>>All. And there are no other words to describe him, thought I Just hit the halfway mark. Well, I perfer Zappa over all mainstream music (kids today with their, Fall out boys and their, Chemical romances partying at the disco you know what I mean.) But than again, I perfer all Classic Rock over mainstream music.

    Once again Frank Zappa>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>ALL.moreless