Monday, December 04, 2006


Frank Zappa died thirteen years ago today at the age of 53. Zappa was a composer, musician, film maker, satirist, an opponent of Tipper Gore’s PMRC, an attempt to label music and an opponent of censorship.

His body of works spanned a 33 year career; gaining national exposure with The Mothers of Invention. I first discovered the Mothers in 1967. I was 12 years old. It was something very different to my ears. Musically, it was very interesting. It was well thought out and the listener could tell that he wasn’t just noodling around. He wasn’t doing a bunch of love song or songs of teenage angst. He had social content that was before it time.

As time continued, Zappa continued his musical commentary. He was doing songs about the problems with fundamentalists in the Middle East easily fifteen years before it was even a blip on the American radar screen.

During the last year of his life he collaborated with several musicians in recording sessions. I am particularly looking forward to a release (if ever) of his sessions with the Chieftains. Hopefully the family company he left behind will release his previously unreleased work.

Volumes could easily be written on the life and music of Frank Zappa, but I think Wikipedia has a comprehensive look at his life, if you are interested.

Oh, by the way, his mustache/beard style is known as an "Imperial."


Blogger mark hoback said...

Hi Guy Who Writes This,

The Aristocrats

is hosting Zappadan, and we invite you to stop on by.

9:01 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Very cool, this site celebrates Zappadan, which begins today, December 4 and ends on December 21, Zappa's birthday. Thanks for the invitation Mark.

Hey, does anyone know if there is internet footage of Zappa doing a commercial for PGE? Pretty cool commercial, and I'll have to search for it.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

I poked around in the Internet Archive but couldn't find the PGE ad. I did run across Zappa's appearance on Crossfire in which he hands a couple stuffed shirts their asses:

Also his testimony before the US Senate (December 21, 1984):

Zappa still rules.

5:06 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Rich, Here's what I got off the net, but it was a TV commercial as well. Here was the description:

Back in the early 1990s, Portland General Electric (PGE) hired rock composer and musician Frank Zappa for a series of radio commercials. In one ad, the irreverent Zappa told the story of how he was hired. He told the utility guys that he would refuse to urge PGE customers to buy more of PGE's product. The utility guys said, "Great." In fact, Zappa went on, somewhat mystified, he would tell the customers to buy even less of PGE's product. The utility guys said, "Great."

9:19 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

I LOVE the Chieftans! You're the only other person I've heard mention them.

1:31 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I love them, too. No one can make things sound quite as depressing as the Irish ; )

Zappa was recording with everyone he could near the end. I hope some of it actually comes out one day.

5:50 AM  

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