Frank Zappa, who died in 1993 aged 52, once said his job was to, “extrapolate everything to the extreme” and his vast catalogue of music proves this over and over again. The ultimate rock and roll iconoclast, Zappa’s first band, The Mothers of Invention, were regulars on LA’s Sunset Strip during the rise of psychedelia – in fact it was Frank himself who popularised the phrase, “Freak Out” by calling his first LP that. His music mixed up pop and soul, jazz and acid rock, swaggering near-metal and austere modern classical ideas. He could play a melody by Stravinsky just as convincingly as a Motown chorus as he had a desire to mix the complexity and dexterity of symphonic music with the noise and excitement and accessibility of great pop music. Is Frank Zappa for you? Why not dive in and find out…
10 Odd Things You May Not Know About Frank Zappa
1. In 1968 he appeared on The Monkees TV show dressed as guitarist Mike Nesmith. Later he was shown “playing” a car by repeatedly beating it.
2. There are 115 Zappa songs “with sexual topics” listed on his Wiki Jawaka page.
3. Zappa has had newly discovered fish, jellyfish and a fossilised snail named in his honour.
4. As a child Zappa suffered from sinusitis, which a doctor tried to remedy by inserting radium capsules into his nostrils.
5. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening once declared Zappa to be, “my Elvis”.
6. Every year the German town on Bad Doberan hosts the Zappanale where only Frank’s music is performed.
7. Zappa’s son Dweezil was named after his wife’s strangely shaped little toe.
8. Stevie Wonder thanks Frank Zappa in the sleevenotes to his legendary 1976 album, Songs In The Key Of Life – no one is quite sure why.
9. In 1992 he appeared as the voice of the Pope in an episode of Ren & Stimpy.
10. Zappa’s 1971 film 200 Motels was filmed in the same studio as A Space Odyssey, look closely and you may spot the black monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic.