I have just seen a post on Facebook concerning Frank Zappa. I cannot believe that this legend died 26 years ago today.
Who was Zappa to me? He probably made the most influence on my music and the writing of songs. I know Alice Cooper was another influential hero, but that was like the Tubes, more influence on the show. Frank Zappa was and still is a massive influence on my music.
The first time I heard Frank was around 1974. My brother had the live album Just another band from L.A. album. It blew me away. Combining comedy and music, saying ‘Fuck’ lots of times in a song, made me laugh, because, it was just not done. Remember this album came out around 1970, years before the punkers and pistols swear on tv thingy.
The whole first side of the album was a story with songs about Billy the Mountain. You might have guessed but a mountain that journeyed across America causing mayhem, accompanied by his wife Ethel, which was a tree on his shoulder.
Side 2 of the album has 4 songs and they are also not for the fainthearted
Track 1: Call any Vegetable
Track 2: Eddie are you kidding?
Track 3: Magdelena
Track 4: Dog Breath.
I think the main influence on the songs on this album has to be the amazing vocals of Howard Kaylan and along with Mark Volman, they are known as Flo & Eddie, but I suppose they are better known as the vocals behind the Turtles. (You know Happy Together etc). I recommend you listen to this album and always remember these wise words
A mountain is something you don’t want to fuck with, you don’t want to fuck with. Don’t fuck around, don’t fuck around.
After I had worn this album out, I realised that this album had opened certain avenues in my brain and I had to go looking for more Zappa. The next album I came across, was the Live at the Fillmore East album, this was realised before the Just another band album and was a live album and featured the brilliant Flo and Eddie.
There is a song called ‘Do You like my new car?’ (*) It portrays Eddie (Howard Kaylan) like a rock star and Mark Volman and the rest of the band are groupies not trying to get in his pants…they say. The track ends by Howard singing the Turtles big hit record ‘Happy together’. Again an album I would recommend.
(*) This track, Dave (Giz) and I used to perform as a live playback for a big crowd at the Students dance. but only cause the local DJ Brian ‘Doon the toon’ Massy insisted on it.
I never had the privilege of seeing Zappa or the Mothers live and this will haunt me until my dying day. I did, however, see the next best thing, when the Grandmothers, many of the original Mothers band members when they played here in Alkmaar. I even spoke to Jimmy Carl Black, the original drummer and vocalist from the Mothers, an honour I will savour with me forever. I even gave him a Zeek Catweazle tape of my work and he thanked me and said they would play it on the bus. If they ever did, I will never know, but who gives a fuck, I spoke to Jimmy Carl Black.
Unfortunately, since that time Jimmy has died, but they can’t take it away from me I spoke to this legend
I have kept all my Zappa albums, I know I only have about 26, he made about 50 or more. There are a lot of albums he put out just to get off the record label he was on and I know deep in his heart he loved more the writing and producing of more classical music and he made some brilliant ones. One of my favourites is Greggery Peccary from the Studio Tan album
Most of the earlier albums with the Mothers, like Chunga’s revenge and weasels ripped my flesh and also the albums with Captain Beefheart, especially the brilliant Hot rats or even better Bongo Fury are among the best.
Another thing I would like to recommend is that you watch a documentary called A day with Frank Zappa, this came from a Dutch television company in 1971. It gives you an idea of the man and his music and his life.
Or what about the amazing film 200 Motels, featuring Ringo Star as Frank Zappa
So you see, Frank Zappa has always been part of my life, musically and influentially and I know I will never be as good a musician as he was, but that’s not what I want to be, I want to be as good as I can be
Peace & Love