Frank Zappa

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM New Musical Express, April 17, 1976

Just a short one with Zappa today as he is almost always entertaining in one way or the other. Some interesting accusations in there too.


At last the truth can be told
Frank Zappa has no underwear

By Cherry Ripe

“Wanna see the best thing I got?” Yes my friends, it`s Francis Vincent Zappa talking about his clothes.
“Now this item was given its stage debut in Hawaii – I haven`t seen any reviews yet, but I`m sure the only thing they`re gonna write is what this sucker looks like under the lights.”
It`s a skin tight tube that branches into two, which would rate as a skin-tight jumpsuit.
And you don`t wear underwear, huh?
“I don`t own any underwear.”
“Then,” he continues “for casual wear, I have these brown harem pants..” into which he casually slips for what has now turned into an impromptu private fashion parade (eat your heart out Lisa Robinson!).. “They tie at the ankles. And I have some type of impressive S & M large belt – with a large buckle, no studs. It`s understated, all sort of brown. (Aside) That may not go over in England.”
But I thought you were never going there again? “Eventually all these things go into a clip book. Then at a press conference in Bilbao somebody`s gonna pick up on something that was transmitted from Fiji… and I`ll have somebody ask me what I`ve got against black leather. The problem is they go to a clipbook and get things that were written by people like them, who went to a clipbook. There`s a bunch of these things – that I stomp on baby chickens, have a fetish about poodles.

True enough, the Police Chief in New Zealand (where he`d just come from), did go along to the show to make sure about the chickens.
“If they think I have a fetish about dogs, they are sadly mistaken. It`s not profound – it`s entertainment. Poodles serve as a convenient mechanism for conveying certain philosophical ideas that might otherwise be more difficult.
“It`s like that old saying. `Shoot low! They`re riding shetlands!`” I never heard that before. “See how old it is?”
Francis Vincent Zappa has just finished up a tour of the antipodes, with yet another incarnation of the Mothers without Beefheart. The line up is Roy Estrada, Napoleon Murphy-Brock, keyboardist Andre Lewis, and drummer Terry Bozzio. “I`m only fourteen I`m sickly and thin, trying to grow me a chin… it popped out once, my dad pushed it in. Why did he hurt me? He`s my next of kin, a Mexican!”
“The song was constructed using every kind of cliche that folk-rock brought to the world – all those stupid bass lines. And it`s sung by the drummer who has a squeaky little teenage voice. He sings on about four other songs: everybody sings.”
Yes, it certainly has a different feel from the last Mothers line up he toured with in `73. “I think the overall impact of that group would be that it was between pseudo-jazzette and cranial. And the people who were in the band at the time – with a couple of exceptions – were genuinely boring people. I mean – I don`t appreciate a band that likes to play chess in their off-stage hours. If you have to spend a lot of time with people who are interested in their chess boards and little card games and shite like that, it can drive you nuts. Eventually, in order to homogenise with the rest of the group, you gotta lay back so far that you`re walking like this..” Doing a limbo?
“Yeah. It`s the Chubby Checker Look – under the limbo bar!”


There are three things that are important to me right now. The forty-piece-orchestra album. The guitar album. And the ten record set. The problem with that – we got the five thousand orders – is that if you deliver a double album, that still counts as one album. But if its a ten record album? I don`t feel that its right to count that as one album. Warner Brothers aren`t even sure they want to count it as a single album against my contract etcetera… that it`s maybe not commercial.”
Any chance you`d work with Flo and Eddie again?
“No!” Categorically? “Yes.”
“The means by which they chose to promote their careers at my expense, while I was sitting in a wheel chair trying to help them get a job and a record contract. I believe to be despicable, and will always think so, even though I regard Howard as a fine singer, and Mark as a great tambourine player and fat person.
“It`s like a tried and true formula for someone who`s not in the band anymore to go to a newspaper, or go on a radio station, and say how bad a person I am, because there`s someone always waiting to hear that, print it, pat the poor little bastard on the head.
“I was hearing things like I supposed to be stifling people`s careers. Flo and Eddie did that and still continues to do it. Beefheart was doing that when he was on his rampage. Alice Cooper did it to a certain extent. Wild Man Fischer did it, a girl named Sandy Hurvitz did it in New Musical Express…” Oh no..
“I have an expression I use.. It`s not as good as `Shoot Low – they`re riding shetlands,` but I try and remember this all the time – you can use it yourself – like a mantra:
“People suck.”


You don`t see ads like this  anymore. 

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Radio Luxembourg, Patrick Moraz, Sweet, Third World, Wings, Pavlov`s Dog, Hello, Joe Walsh, ELO, Wilko Johnson, Bill Evans, Michael Pinder, John Denver.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 3, 1976

The writer of this article only presents himself with the name “Miles”. In 1976 people wouldn`t have had a clue about his real identity, but now, in 2017, I just do a quick “google” and find that his real name is Barry Miles.
Mr. Miles is an expert in all things Zappa, and even wrote Zappa`s biography published in 2004. If you are a fan of Zappa you should check it out.
In this article we get an insight into the strange working relationship between Zappa and Beefheart, both having left this planet for good now and we are poorer because of it.
Enjoy this article with two of rock`n roll`s most exceptional characters.



You have just heard Captain Beefheart shattering glass objects with the astonishing pitch of his voice

Actually, it didn`t work. However, something that did work was the re-uniting of THE CAPTAIN and FRANK ZAPPA a few months ago for a tour and an album, “Bongo Fury”. To mark the occasion, MILES recalls the duo`s strange collaborations in earlier times.

The last time the Captain and Frank worked together (until their recent tour) was on “Hot Rats”, September 1969. I know. I was there.
It was 2am and the Captain`s face was green in the fluorescent lighting of the 24-hour snackbar at T.T & G. Recording studios. The edges of the formica-topped tables were serrated with cigarette burns. The room was overlit and bleak. The microwave oven emitted a low hum.
Out the window the magic starlit skyline of palms and the distant Santa Monica Mountains covered with lights was broken only by the floodlit painting on the theatre playing Hair. It was done by Simon & Marijike Koger, “The Fool”, and was billed as the “Biggest psychedelic mural in the world”.
We were taking a coffee break.
“I can break glass with my voice,” said Don (The Capt.) conversationally.
“I once blew out a 1,200 dollar Telefunken microphone.”
I had heard the story.
Don gave a demonstration: “BLLLAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
We inspected the window. Not a crack.
“I`m feeling a little tired.” He looked it.
The door burst open. “What the hell was that?”
Frank Zappa had heard the noise in the soundproof control booth on the floor below.
“We were seeing if Don`s voice could break a window,” I explained, but already Don was thinking about something else and Frank`s sudden entry seemed to have disturbed his chain of thought.

“Come and listen to this track,” said Zappa. “It looks like we`ll be able to put your vocal on tonight.” But Don didn`t think so. His voice was not in top form and it wasn`t till later that he sang “Willie The Pimp” so nice.
Frank was recording “Hot Rats” and Johnny Otis was leading the band: Otis stamped his foot ferociously, just ahead of the beat, revealing beautiful black silk socks held in place by suspenders. His late `50s Tony Curtis hairdo, oiled, black as a Lincoln Continental, bobbed staccato with the beat but not a hair moved out of place.
A little sweat appeared on his brow as he grinned and grimaced with the beat, leaning over and clapping his hands a fraction of an inch from the drummer`s ear. The drummer did not look pleased.
Johnny had been working for the Musicians Union for the past few years but was soon to make a comeback. His massive injection of energy soon made this band rock and it wasn`t long before Frank was twiddling the knobs and explaining:
“I`ll just make a test mix before we go.”
Frank goes out into the studio to discuss the positioning of the microphones:
“We`ll put the Electrovoice there, pointing upwards to catch the sound of the saxophone as it bounces off the ceiling, after bouncing off the wall. That`s how they made it sound so greasy in the `50s…”
The sax player was positioned facing the wall.
Frank`s cigarette burned a brown line in the formica.

He stood alone in the studio with his guitar, his wah-wah pedal and his cans on. Not quite alone, sitting in the far corner, absolutely still, maybe even asleep, sat Don Van Vliet.
Frank played a fine solo, listened to it back and then edited on a new ending.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Gail showed up in the big soft Buick. Steering with the palm of her hand she spun the huge air-conditioned powerbraked and steered monster effortlessly up the twists and bends of Laurel Canyon Blvd until we made the final turn at the top and caught a catherine wheel glimpse of the necklaces of light laid out in the valley below before plunging into the dense foliage which conceals all the inhabitants of Laurel Canyon from each other.
“He`s burned them all,” muttered Frank.
“You didn`t have photocopies?” Frank and Gail talk privately.
“No…Years of work.”
“Are you sure he`s done it?”
“Yep. He told me tonight. He did it two weeks ago.”
Captain Beefheart had burned the only copies of hundreds of the songs that he had written. Frank continued to lament. It was obvious from his distress that Beefheart is just about the only contemporary of his that he regards as a creative genius. Happily a few days later there seemed to be some doubt about whether the songs were really destroyed or not.


Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were to have a business meeting. Hours went by before they emerged and Frank immediately took Herb Cohen, master of Bizarre business, aside for another one. Beefheart and I took a walk out on the back lawn. Georgia, Frank`s Alsatian dog, sniffed around us. It was 4am.
“Everyone is out to burn. All artists get burned.” It seemed as if he hadn`t really grasped what had been going on at the business meeting at all. He looked worried and distracted.
The problem was “Trout Mask Replica”. The Capt. didn`t like the way it was being marketed. “They were selling me like a freak alongside that madman Wild Man Fischer and the GTOs.” At the time Beefheart was not even happy about  the album itself. In a later interview he said: “Zappa wanted to pretend that he had done `Trout Mask Replica`, on which he had done nothing but go to sleep at the mixing board.
“It was way over his head. Not really over his head, just too unstructured and telepathic for him because he`s so formed and regimented…”
Frank did have problems producing the album, such recording techniques as singing in one room with the door closed and having the microphone in the other offended his sense of studio professionalism as well as giving a lot of hiss from the high levels needed.
When I asked him about this example Beefheart maintained: “Well to me, that`s just the way it is.”


Last week I asked him if “Trout Mask” was really a Zappa album.
“No, he let me have completely what I wanted to do on it. He wanted to make it more, you know the way he is, he wanted excellent recording techniques and stuff but I wanted to do it the way it is so… He threatened to remix that album! He`s funny!
“It was released again here you see. I like that album a lot. And I definitely appreciate Frank allowing me that out. Nobody else would have.
“At the time I was naive to money, as I am now, and naive to business and whatnot and I would have liked to have taken a lot longer to put that album out, I would have liked to… but I would have probably ruined it if I`d had the time!” He roars with laughter.
The Zappa-Beefheart friendship is well-known to one and all but just in case you`ve forgotten I`ll run through it real fast:
Zappa invented Captain Beefheart`s name around the time that Beefheart moved to Cucamonga to work with Zappa on those two unlikely projects, a film called Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People and a rock and roll group called The Soots, an idea they had first kicked around when they were at Antelope Valley High School out near the Edwards Airforce base, north of Los Angeles.
Zappa had a little studio out in the desert, called Studio Z, and here recorded hours of tape of himself and Beefheart playing together – sounding like early Rolling Stones R & B except with Beefheart`s powerful four and a half octaves roaring over everything.
Zappa now has plans to release them as a 15-record set (of course).

Beefheart: “Just before I came on this tour Frank and I had a get-together thing, a happening. It was really interesting because he was finding out if I remembered these things, and of course I remembered everything.
“I even remember the little mouse that was living in the place he was living. It was a quiet little mouse. We used to feed it cheese.”
Zappa was finally busted for making a pornographic tape and went down for ten days. His little five-track studio didn`t have much business and he was starving.
Beefheart remembers: “I was there when he picked his first guitar up, 15 years ago. That was in the desert – it was over on a little street by the fairgrounds where they have the rodeos and things.”


“I hadn`t spoken to him or seen him for five years. I was up painting and writing and doing all those things and I just hadn`t come down to Southern California. The minute I came down there we went on a big tour. Ha, that was fun! I`d been with a group for so many years that it was nice to get away and be free again with a very intelligent person. A very old friend, let`s see, he`s a little older than me. I think one month. He`s a Sagittarius and I`m a Capricorn.
“I just called him up and told him I`d like to see him and he says, `Well great, come down and hear this album I`m working on`, and I said, `Well, yeah, I`d like to, but I`ve gotten out of the business. I`m not gonna be in the music business anymore`, and he says, `Oh no, you can`t do that`, and I said, `Well I think that`s what I`m gonna do`. So Frank said, `Well come down and hear some records, you know, we`ll go on a tour!`
“I said, `No, I couldn`t do that! I couldn`t do that!` but when I went down he talked me into it real quick, because he started playing the guitar and I thought, `Well, hell. I`m going!` Like the Pied Piper, I mean to hear that thing every night? Hoho! … I think he`s probably the best guitar player on this planet!”

Zappa`s story about the reunion is of course quite different: “He apologised for all the garbagio and asked for a job.” He was auditioned just before Hallowe`en. “He flunked. See, he had a problem with rhythm and we were very rhythm orientated. Things have to happen on the beat.
“I had him come up on the bandstand at our rehearsal hall and try to sing `Willie The Pimp` and he couldn`t get through it. I figured if he couldn`t get through that I didn`t stand much chance of teaching him the other stuff.”
But Zappa tried him again in the spring. “Although he still has trouble remembering words and making things happen on the beat, he`s better. Just before the tour I tried him again and he squeaked by.”
At Knebworth Beefheart was surprised to hear the above. “Imagine there being an audition for people who`ve known one another for that many years. If he did audition me I didn`t notice!”
Well, they say that the first 20 years are the hardest and now that they had so much fun together on the tour, maybe Frank and Don will settle down together with all their holes open and stop bad-mouthing each other.
Brilliant as it is, “Bongo Fury” is only a beginning of what this pair could do together.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all  of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, The Who, Queen.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I didn`t know about the court case described in this article before I started to read this paper recently. I knew about his fight against the PMRC ((Parents Music Resource Center) in the mid-eighties, but didn`t know that he fought another case ten years earlier with the same theme regarding censorship. There should be more Frank Zappa`s in the world.

Have an enjoyable read!


`What is a groupie?` asked his Lordship…

Mothers albums nestle amongst the legal papers. A stereo system has been set up in front of the judge. The scene is Law Court Seven. The topic: The Suppository Principle Of Culture. Adjacent matters of interest: dog continuity, The Groupie Papers, and the magnetic deviation of San Clemente.
Kids – be upstanding for Uncle Frank…

Pictures: Joe Stevens
Report: Mick Farren

On monday April 14 at 10.30 in the morning Bizarre Productions began to sue the Royal Albert Hall in front of Mr. Justice Mocatta. This drama took place at the Number Seven Court of the Law Courts in the Strand.
The issue was the cancellation of The Mothers Of Invention/London Philharmonic presentation of “200 Motels” originally scheduled  for February 8th, 1971, at the Albert Hall.
For those of you who don`t remember the exact details, perhaps this is the time to remind you. The Zappa concert was planned as a kind of gala two-pronged promotion, intended to boost both the movie of “200 Motels” and the Mothers` subsequent UK tour.
At the last minute, the Albert Hall cancelled Zappa`s booking and refused to allow the concert to take place. The reason they gave was that they considered parts of the script to be obscene and objectionable.
On the night of the concert, the TV news showed apparently angry protests by fans outside the Albert Hall.
Zappa and his business manager Herb Cohen (the partnership that constitutes Bizarre Productions) decided to sue. They are currently claiming damages against the management of the Albert Hall for both the financial loss caused by the cancellation and the resulting loss of important publicity.
The case took four years to come to court.

Let`s move on to the first Wednesday of the case.
Number Seven Court is a high-ceilinged room, all grey stone and aged panelling – that strange combination of Kafka and Camelot that appears to have been the Victorian ideal of justice.
Among the wigs, the thick leather-bound books and the faint air of dust in the light streaming through high-mullioned windows, Frank Zappa cuts a somewhat strange figure.
He has made some endeavours to meet the court halfway. He is wearing a conservative brown-check suit, a white shirt and what looks unnervingly like an old school tie.
The effect is hardly a total success. With his hair hanging loose, some way below his shoulders, he looks, if anything, a little reminiscent of Tiny Tim.
At the start of the afternoon session Zappa has already been on the witness stand all morning and for part of the previous day. Under examination he speaks very quietly and on a number of occasions the judge has requested that he speak up. It is obvious that this case is not going to be turned into any kind of theatrical spectacle.
Not that the proceedings are without a few surreal touches.

Mothers albums nestle among the imposing bundles of legal paper. A stereo system has been set up in front of the judge. The counsel for the defence has a large dictionary of American slang in front of him. It has a garish red, white and blue cover.
The judge has already listened to a good deal of the “200 Motels” album. He received most of it with his head sunk in his hands. He complained that he couldn`t hear the words. He refused to have the track “Penis Dimension” played in court.
Mr. Justice Mocatta had already read the lyrics and he found them objectionable.
There have been other odd touches of the kind that always seems to occur when the world of rock-and-roll confronts the very different world of law.
The judge has had problems with the terminology of rock. The word “groupie” seemed to puzzle him.
“Is a groupie a girl who is a member of a group?”
Zappa shakes his head.
“No, she is a girl who likes members of a rock-and-roll band.”
The judge has encountered other troubles.
“When I started this case, I knew very little about pop and beat music. I knew it was to do with rhythm, banging, and an infectious atmosphere. I didn`t know it was anything to do with sex or drugs.”
Zappa points out that the majority of pop music has some kind of sexual connotations.

One of the first highlights of Wednesday afternoon was when Zappa was shown one of the now-legendary posters of him sitting naked on the can. The counsel for the Albert Hall asked if the poster had been produced with his knowledge.
There was a short pause.
It hardly seemed possible that anyone could be photographed in the privacy of their own john without having knowledge of it. Zappa answered carefully. The poster had been published without his consent.
The subject was pursued no further.
One of the points of the Bizarre case is that if the Albert Hall management had objected to the lyrics, Zappa would have been both willing and able to adapt and change the words, had he been consulted. He alleged that he could have done it at very short notice.
In order to demonstrate this, Zappa`s counsel handed him a script of “200 Motels” and asked him to “render the lyrics suitable for a socially-retarded audience”.
(“A socially-retarded audience” is the term used by the Bizarre side for the kind of crowd who would find the Mothers` lyrics objectionable).
Zappa started to render. The results were startling. Lines came out like: “The places she goes/Are filled with guys from Pudsey/Waiting for a chance/To buy her Sudsy.”
This was the moment, reading in a slow deadpan voice, when Zappa the witness came closest to Zappa the performer. The judge, however, seemed confused.
Zappa`s counsel attempted to help.
“Pudsey, Yorkshire, m`lud.”
“It`s produced some fine cricketers, I believe.”

Soon after that, Zappa completed his testimony and left the stand. He walked straight out of the court. It seemed to be a signal for most of the spectators to rush out for a smoke.
Zappa sat on a bench in the corridor. He looked tired.
“You realise I can`t say anything about the case.”
Inside, Herb Cohen is running the fiscal and logistic facts about the deal on the Albert Hall.
The long-haired legal clerks who seem to have taken time off to watch Zappa decide to go back to work. One of them expresses a very positive desire that Zappa will win.
At just after six the same evening, Joe Stevens and I walk through the gilded portals of The Dorchester in Park Lane. We have come to talk to Frank Zappa.
Up in room 640, Frank is already talking to a rival journalist. The journalist is a fairly nondescript, average rock writer.
He has a lady with him. She possesses the most amazing nipples.
As far as it is possible to judge through the knitted silk sweater, they are roughly half the gross mass of her breasts. Perhaps it`s an illusion, or maybe even a device from Frederick`s of Hollywood.
Zappa has changed out of his court clothes into pink jeans, a tan sweater, orange socks and brown slip-ons – not Gucci, however. No little chains across the tongue. (How`m I doing, Lisa?)

He looks even more tired than he did in court and sits almost motionless in a Dorchester brocade armchair. He`s obviously unhappy at the fact that the next afternoon he has to fly back to New York, and go almost directly from plane to stage to play a concert with the Mothers.
Joe and I are offered coffee.
Frank does it in a way that makes it very clear that requests for large bourbons or tequila sunrises will not be entertained. We settle for coffee, and wait politely while the rival journalist notes down Frank Zappa`s top twenty in rather slow longhand.
There is a long discussion that centres around the enema scene in Paderewski`s opera “The Devils of Loudon”. This is a prime item in Zappa`s top twenty.
Another item listed is anything by Richard Berry. It appears that Richard Berry, the man who actually wrote “Louie Louie” and recorded it as Richard Berry And The Pharaohs, sold the entire rights to the song for $5,000.
Zappa considers Berry one of the most important figures in the West Coast rhythm-and-blues scene of the Fifties. He even goes into detail:
“He heard a band playing a Latin instrumental called `Cha Cha Loco`. It had the same basic ba-ba dum, dum-dum riff. Berry scribbled some words down on a brown paper bag. That`s how `Louie Louie` was written.
“The Kingsmen later mutilated it.”
All fascinating stuff. Hardly to the point, however.
The rival journalist has finally finished and it`s time to get down.

What about the trial, Frank?
“I can`t talk about the trial.”
After having spent nine days at the Old Bailey a couple of years ago, defending myself on a criminal obscenity rap, I still have a morbid interest in the legal process, particularly where it encompasses censorship.
I ask Frank if he`d be willing to talk, off the record, about the general background of the case.
Why? (Politely).
Zappa is very matter-of-fact.
“I don`t trust anybody.”
Just then the phone rings. Frank has a five minute conversation with his lawyer. He hangs up, and looks around the room.
“I will have to ask you all to forget anything you might have overheard.”
The turnround is fortuitous. Fate (or the GPO) forces the Twentieth Century Zen master into a position of human. We smile, and the conversation is duly forgotten.
It`s kind of hard to hold a conversation when the central topic of interest is verboten. The only answer is to take care of business and let the pearls drop where they may. I cop out and go for an awful stock opener.

Do you have any plans to play the UK?
(At least I didn`t get the answer “Play them at what?”)
“We have no plans for England at all. It is a simple matter of being unable to find suitable venues.”
It`s obvious you like to play in Britain. You sell records here, and generally make money when you tour.
“London is very important. If a person plays in England it contributes to the over-all European promotion. The media are in London. You get written about in London, and it gets translated for other European countries.”
I ask him if he has ever explored the possibilities of Alexandra Palace. I`m very fond of Alexandra Palace with its pillars and fountains.
“I understand it`s impossible to get a sound there.”
The Grateful Dead managed it with their monster sound system.
The Zappa deadpan comes down.
“I only deal with mortal equipment.”


The conversation moves on.
The next subject is Captain Beefheart. Zappa seems pleased that this has come up.
“I can officially tell you that Don is a member of The Mothers Of Invention. He is part of our current US tour.”
Zappa consistently refers to Beefheart as Don Vliet. They`ve been friends since their teens, cruising for burgers together and singing along with the radio. It makes a touching picture.
“Don will be singing, playing harmonica, dancing and having a good time for the first time in his life.
“He had a very harrowing experience with the last band and his management. They made a fool of him. He called me up and asked for help.
“I told him that the Mothers were holding auditions on Tuesday and Thursday, and that he should come along. He flunked the first one, but the second was okay.”
All this after he`s been badmouthing you for the past three years or so?
“There really has never been any animosity on my part. He asked for help. Any idea of a feud between us is quite pointless.”
Frank becomes more animated as he starts to elaborate. It seems as though he has a real affection for Beefheart.
“The way he relates to language is unique, the way in which he brings my text to life. Of course he has problems. His memory causes him trouble. He won`t be separated from his sheets of paper that have his words written on. He clings to them for dear life.

“He also has a literacy problem. He can hardly read. He also has trouble staying on a beat. Captain Beefheart has no natural rhythm.
“He does have this thing inside him. It`s dynamic and he wants to express it. In a voice like Howlin` Wolf.”
The conversation veers from Beefheart and moves on to Howlin` Wolf. It`s a strange experience to see Frank Zappa actually talking in a tone that comes close to awe.
“The Howlin` Wolf could really get across.”
The Wolf talk goes on. Wolf anecdotes come too fast to record. Zappa also relates his persona as a Wolf fan to Beefheart and his new slide-guitar player. Beefheart`s harmonicas seem to play an essential part in the new Mothers repertoire.
The rival journalist asks if Frank is moving towards a blues thing. Frank smiles and nods. You get the feeling that it could be like no blues ever seen on the planet.

We move from Wolf and Beefheart to the general area of people like them – individuals with a unique talent, but one that can`t be pigeonholed by the entertainment industry.
“In society today those people get the worst deal. Society retards the individual. An example is Bob Dylan. When he came out with `Like A Rolling Stone` the industry reacted by creating `The Eve Of Destruction`.
“You could say that I hire the handicapped.”
Zappa goes on to define.
“I admire anyone who makes a positive statement, even if it`s moronic, I can admire the positively moronic, anyone who sits down and says this is my statement, stick it up your ass.”
I venture a Zen pupil joke.
“The suppository principle of culture?”
I get the deadpan. “That`s the kind of thing they talk about in court.”
Then, later, Zappa used the phrase himself a couple of times.
I venture an awkward question. How does Frank relate the early Zappa – the abrasive social commentator – to the present-day, very individualistic musician?
What happened to the political songs, Frank?

Zappa dismisses the whole thing very quickly. Not quickly enough to betray embarrassment, just sufficiently fast to indicate that it`s not very interesting.
He sees his songs as timeless. He`s written “Brown Shoes Don`t Make It”. He`s written “Trouble Coming Every Day”. They are still appropriate. He doesn`t need to write them again.
If you have a band with Mark and Howard in it, you find yourself documenting the trivia that form society.
“People in fifty years` time should have documentation of monsters like Cal Worthington.”
Cal Worthington is a singing cowboy used-car dealer who has immensely long TV commercials during L.A.`s late, late show.
So the groupies and the stars on Hollywood Boulevard say John Provost and Leo G. Carroll are as important as Richard Nixon?
“In a way. I have written a song about Nixon.”
Son of Orange County?
“No, another one. It`s called `Dicky`s Such An Ass-hole` or `San Clemente Magnetic Deviation`.
Magnetic deviation?
“Aviation pilots stay away from the San Clemente area. There is a deviation from the earth`s normal magnetic field around San Clemente island. That`s not actually where Nixon lives, but it`s very close.”
There`s speculation in room 640 about alien invaders sitting on San Clemente island plotting the whole dirty business. When Grand Funk tell you aerosols are going to destroy the atmosphere you`re frankly not impressed. When Zappa starts on the earth`s magnetic field, you tend to give it a little more credibility.

We make a jump to his more recent work.
It turns out that he spent the period off the road after his Rainbow accident working on his singing. He confesses that he never had much confidence in himself as “the dynamic lead singer in a rock-and-roll band”.
A lot of this experimentation took the form of fitting words to guitar licks.
So `Penguin In Bondage` is simply a set of words fitted around a riff?
Zappa pauses to light a Winston.
“`Penguin In Bondage` is a true story.”
Everything stops dead.
Would you like to relate it?
“It`s far too personal.”
The conversation goes round and round. More journalists come in. Soon everyone is vamping on each other`s action. It tends to be confusing.
Frank seems delighted. A session of “Whatever happened to” seems a painless way to ace out the competition.
What happened to Larry (Wild Man) Fischer?
“Larry Fischer is still on Sunset Strip. He still sells original songs for a dime, and my address and phone number for fifty cents. He carries his album under his arm. He wants to make another one. It ought to be called `The Cheek of Wild Man Fischer`.”

The twelve-album set that constitutes a history of The Mothers in unreleased material?
Zappa looks a little sad.
“This is a very difficult and expensive project. We currently have someone canvassing retailers. If we can get orders for five thousand, the company will release it, but it`s very difficult.”
The Groupie Papers?
Zappa looks enthusiastic. The Groupie Papers seem close to his heart.
“My secretary Pauline was transcribing them, but that stopped. Noel Redding also asked for his diaries back. Cynthia Plastercaster still lives about a hundred miles from Chicago. She`s still keeping diaries. Miss Pamela has a straight acting job. She plays the ingenue in a soap opera called `As The World Turns`. Miss Sparky, another of the G.T.O.s. wants to do a parody of the show called `As the Turd Whirls`.”
Frank warms to his subject.
“They really would make a fantastic book. There are Cynthia`s diaries. Pamela`s diaries and Noel Redding`s diaries. They start out by not knowing each other, and slowly they converge. At first they talk about each other, then they meet.
“It`s a dramatic, factual insight into the Sixties and rock hysteria.
“The main problem with putting the book into logical form is how you arrange the separate continuities.

“You have Noel. He joins Hendrix and keeps a diary, all in code, of how many girls he had and what they did. Then you have Pamela who records, at nine, how she cried when Caryl Chessman, the red light bandit, was executed and Cynthia, whose father attacked her because she had unnaturally big tits for her age.
“There`s a sequence when Pamela falls in love with Cynthia. The problem is that Cynthia isn`t the least bisexual. Pamela hocks her record-player and, without any real idea of what it`s like, goes to Chicago in the middle of winter, to get into Cynthia`s pants.
“There`s a very sad Polaroid picture of them both sitting up in bed after it has all been a terrible failure.
“Cynthia`s diaries are quite incredible. She makes strange clinical notes about who she balled, and if she casted them. There`s even notes on how she goes about locating rock stars. They would be great for Sherlock Holmes.
“Her diaries are scientific and detached, even down to the formula of her different casting materials.
“She also draws cartoons – strange and well-executed. They`re rather like Little Orphan Annie, except she`s chasing down-who`s an example?…say Paul Revere and the Raiders.
“It would make one hell of a movie.”

After that it seemed as though it was time to leave.
Journalists just kept coming. How could we top the true story of the Groupie Papers? Then, as Joe and I were making our farewells, it happened.
Frank Zappa introduced us to The Dog Continuity.
“It`s not actually so much of a Dog Continuity as a Poodle Continuity. It recurs on each record. It`s an abstract concept, much in the way that Rembrandt added brown to all his colours. That`s the level.
“On the next album it will be conceptually reduced to the word arf.”
With that, we left.
It wasn`t quite the end, though. We caught up with Frank at Dingwall`s.
He sat calmly enjoying himself, comparing it to the late Max`s Kansas City, eating one of those Dingwall`s hamburgers that for some inexplicable reason come encased in Greek bread, praising Jackie Lynton`s Grande, and telling one of the waitresses that she “had a fine walk”.

Hensley was big enough to warrant a full-page ad! Nice.

Hensley was big enough to warrant a full-page ad! Nice.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Steely Dan, Al Green, Pete Atkin and Clive James, Joe Walsh, Sweet, David Allan Coe, Carla Bley, Syl Johnson, The Pink Fairies.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

What a legacy Zappa left us with, not only in music but also in words! He is one that deserves to be remembered – I only wish he were with us a little longer. Enjoy this interview from the 10-year anniversary of the Mothers of Invention.

This is also the article that marks 5000 views on my blog. Thank you for reading!

bilde 1

Mothers` Day memories

Barbara Charone – CHICAGO

Frank Zappa celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Mothers of invention by stopping off in Chicago for a very special show. After all it was Mothers` Day, so why not bring out the plastic inflatable lady and really get it on?

In the past Zappa has avoided being a jukebox of old hits, but this tour is something special, with anniversary cards in the hall lobby and a musical run through from the Mothers` history.
At midnight Zappa announces it`s officially Mothers` Day, while the sold-out crowd screams delighted faaar-outs. Then the man gives us a 15-minute rap about those early days, before kicking off an hour-long medley of the “freakout” album. As he puts it, “You`re gonna hear `Freakout` till it`s coming out of your ass.”

“This tour is different, this time I`m going out there to play oldie mouldies,” he told me beforehand. “Most of the songs haven`t been played since the earliest days. It`s gonna be an improvement over the `Freakout` album, and, who knows, we might even get a live version on tape.”
I mumble something about “Freakout” being a definitive time-warp album, all about living in the 60s.
“If that`s what the 60s were like we`re in trouble. We couldn`t keep a beat on that record,” Zappa says in disbelief. “The main weakness was the beat – it was sloppy and lopsided. But now we`re playing everything stronger, and those tunes sound like top 40 only better.”
Of course, the current band is far removed from the early Mothers – so much so that they`ve had to learn the numbers from the old records.

Zappa commented: “Those songs are all so easy compared to what we`ve been doing recently. In rehearsal we learned two and three of them a day – which is sickening, because when we first put out `Freakout` it took weeks just to get one little song right. No-one knew how to play their instruments.
The current 10-piece band is a far cry from the early 60s drum/bass/guitar syndrome. One wonders what a synthesiser will sound like in the middle of `It Can`t Happen Here?` And how relevant are the social problems of the 60s in these blase 70s.
“Of course I`ve had to change the old arrangements to suit our present instrumentation.
“Much of the appeal of the `Freakout` album was because it was something kids of that era could relate to. But I think audiences will still enjoy it because the songs are short. There`s a beat, a tune and a bass line. And the basic feel is easy to understand.
“What I`m going to do,” says Zappa with restrained excitement, “is play twenty of those things in a row, and I think the audiences will love it. Last time we toured Europe we put `Brown Shoes Don`t Make It` into the set and the response to that one song was amazing.

bilde 2

“Today `Freakout` sounds like a bunch of demos to me. But you`ve got to remember our first three albums were recorded on a four-track machine. There wasn`t any 16-track then. The biggest amp you could get was the Vox Superbeatle – they didn`t even have Marshalls!”
For some reason the Zappa audience always seem to expect him to be some freaked-out druggie who has to be wheeled on stage or pushed up against the amplifier. On the contrary, he`s a strictly disciplined musician, who runs the band with a firm hand. In concert, the outfit impress with their expertise. There`s so much natural energy on stage it`s refreshing.
Says Zappa: “In my band anybody caught using drugs on the road gets dismissed immediately. What they do in their spare time is their business, but as long as they`ve working for me it`s got to be disciplined.
“Kids assume that anyone they like is as stoned as they are. The drug problem in the United States is of sufficient scope that many of the people in a rock audience are chemically altered and have to perceive everything from that point of view. I mean 90 per cent of the rock audience are more concerned with appearance than music. Have you seen Kiss? Oh God!”

On stage, Zappa`s new band resembles an all-star broadway musical, and singer Napoleon Murphy Brock has the charisma of Jagger as he stalks the stage straight out of Porgy and Bess.
“Rock has always been a what-else-can-you-show-me thing except in its earliest days – when kids didn`t want to be shown anything different, just more of the same.
“Now that same idea is transmitted today, because people obviously don`t want to see anything new. They`d hate it – because it wouldn`t be rock `n` roll. But there are certain characteristic elements that you can hang on to so that the music will sound rock`n`rollish. Like, if people hear a horn, they think it`s jazz.
“The public don`t really demand anything – what dictates trends is always some office opinion of what will sell. So many bands are manufactured. So you`ve got all these bands that receive lots of hype but have no musical substance.”

Undaunted by the critical reception of his `200 Motels` film of the celluloid media still fascinates Zappa – who prefers spending his money on media projects than fast cars and dope.
He says: “The next feature film I do will be totally animated, but it`s a long way from completion. Lately I`ve been working on a movie for television; a combination of animation, straight scenes, and footage of the band on the road.
“A guy who runs a food and beverage service in Colorado Springs let us use his restaurant for part of the film. He gave the band busboy uniforms and we brought a bunch of kids back from the concert to act as customers. Our road manager made this mysterious salad of garbage, dry ice and stuff. The customers ate it and pretended to die. It`s just a quick little scene but it looks funny.”

Right now Zappa is just finishing up the last dates of his anniversary tour. He`s just finished reading the `Secret Life Of Plants` which he highly recommends, and he wants to take the band to Japan.

An ad for what I  feel is the strongest album Sparks ever made.

An ad for what I feel is the strongest album Sparks ever made.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Sparks, Pete Shertser, Graham Bond, Steely Dan, Beatles, Sharks, Monty Python, Chick Corea, Mike Garson, The Fatback Band, Scott Joplin.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog! Thank you!

This edition of the New Musical Express was the first in a major change for the paper. More pages, longer articles and generally a better music magazine.
I had a really hard time choosing one interview among several great ones in this number. I could have chosen an exclusive Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) interview or lengthy concert reviews of Elton John or Humble Pie, a great interview with Marc Bolan or also a lengthy interview done with Steve Howe from Yes. In the end i chose the one that I did because I like Frank Zappa, not only as a musician, but also for many of his viewpoints. He was a true genius, and people deserve it to themselves to be challenged by Frank Zappa, musically and politically.


Forget the leg a while. It`s
on rock, porn and blues.

He looks a bit like an identi-kit picture of our own most infamous anarchist Guy Fawkes, this much-vaunted, often-maligned rock guitarist who more than anyone else in contemporary music personifies the cult of the Unsuper Star.
The name is Frank Zappa and here he sits in his London hotel sipping dinner in the suitably unorthodox shape of a peach melba – having already returned the wine for a surplus of cork, floating about inside the bottle – and articulating instant copy on subjects as far apart as pornography and John Sebastian.

Eric Burdon once publically referred to Frank as “the Adolph Hitler of rock”, in retaliation for Mr. Z allegedly – Zappa refutes the charges, although it sounds in character – referring to him in print as “the Charlton Heston of rock and roll!”
He gives the impression of being a man of extremes – compassion tempered with hatred – the nice mixed with a fair-sized dollop of the nasty – which makes him, unlike Sebastian, who apparently has no weeds in his garden, a believable human being.
Somehow one gets the impression that if someone had pushed John Sebastian off the stage at the Rainbow, he would have sprouted wings and flown. Not Frank. He went down like a good `un, breaking his leg, just like one of us.

I still remember the first occasion on which the Mothers of Invention`s first single was played on the thankfully-extinct “Juke Box Jury” and no one, including David Jacobs (remember him), could take them seriously. “They must be joking” was the general census of opinion, and of course, they were. But the joke was on them.
“I would say there are very few other groups who treat themselves the same way as the Mothers”, said Frank. “We can afford to laugh at ourselves, whereas I don`t think that other pop groups or artistes, in various mediums, actually take the time to consider how absurd things really are.
“It`s not a question of ridicule, but we just take a different viewpoint to the next guy. Ridicule seems like a cruel sort of thing to do. The attitude we take is that we would all be laughing together, if the other guy didn`t take it so seriously. That`s the way I look at it.”



When Zappa formed the Mothers, the record company promptly refused to allow them to use that name as it appeared to have obscene connotations, and `of Invention` was tagged on to the name. At that time most of the trendy acts about were good looking young men with shining hair and flashing teeth, to wit the Dave Clark Five and Herman.
“Most of the Mothers were unattractive old men. So we immediately had a merchandising problem,” says Frank.

Their first album “Freak Out” was totally ignored by mass media, both here and in America, but it sold approximately 30,000 copies purely by word of mouth and some smart advertising by Zappa who cut their sleeve up into a jig-saw puzzle and had one piece per day, for two weeks, delivered to the reviewers.
Zappa is curiously enough, for such an anti-establishment figure, an extremely acute business man. And one of the “cutest” features of the deal he negotiated with Warner Records is that at the end of their five-year contract the group get their masters back.
“…That`s what I call a good deal,” says Frank. “You make a record, and what normally happens is that the record company owns the tapes for ever – it`s not your music anymore. I happen to like the idea of retaining my so called works of art.”

It comes as something of a surprise – somehow, anything orthodox connected with Zappa is a surprise – to find him happily married to his second wife with a son aged two and a daughter aged 4. His first marriage broke up because the young lady found it “difficult to be comfortable with the lifestyle I was involved with.” He intends his children to go through the formal state education for which he has them “well prepared”.
Zappa describes his relationship with his own parents as “cordial”, although they were disappointed he did not take up something as scientific as his father before him, who was in turn a maths teacher, a physics teacher, a meterologist, a metalurgist, a barber and then worked on ballistic missile projects.
He says: “My father wanted me to do something scientific and I was interested in chemistry, but they were frightened to get the proper equipment because I was only interested in things that blew up.
“…I don`t think there`s any reason to assume my parents should derive pleasure from what I do for a living. It`s just not their bag! They like cowboy pictures on TV…stuff like that.”

For those of you who have followed Zappa`s early work, and indeed even some of his more recent material, it should not come as too great a shock to learn he holds rhythm and blues dearest to his heart.
“The first band I ever played in was a group called the Ramblers, in which I just played drums. I used to listen to rhythm and blues a lot – Johnny Watson when he used to play guitar, Clarence `Gatemouth` Brown, the Orchids and the Nutmegs. Our repertoire consisted of early Little Richard stuff…
“I still enjoy that music, and it may seem a little absurd – but if I were in the proper circumstances, and I told the guys in the band this, I would be just as happy playing R and B. That`s because I love it, it sounds good to me. It has definite musical merit.
“Just because it could be considered to be musically illiterate in some instances by academic standards, that has no relationship to what the real value of that music is.
“The emotional quality of the music of the `50`s, and the feel of those performances – everything thay have is cheap. But the sound that comes out is just great, it inspires you. When they have the cheapest stuff they come out with a piece of art at the end.”

A greatly underrated guitarist, Zappa talking on what makes a good guitarist is interesting: “I listen for melodic and emotional content in the playing, and interesting rhythmic influences, technique and harmonic.
“Depending on what style of guitar playing it is, if it`s rock or blues-type playing, I listen for the generalised feel of what the guitar is sounding like, rather than trying to figure out whether that guy is faster than Alvin Lee or not.
“I think that generally, the criteria most pop writers use is how fast is that guitar player, it doesn`t matter a shit to them whether the guy can actually invent a melody on the spot.
“Think back over how many guitar solos you have heard over the last ten years. How many of them could you hum?
“Is there any melodic content at all? Is there any structural relationship at all between the line that`s being played, and a challenging set of chords that`s happening?”

Today there are very few if any sacred cows in Zappa`s morality, and he refuses to accept unconditionally, or standard of behaviour, advanced by the Establishment under the guise of morality. An active social conscience, he attempts to expose and explore the motives of our Society in order that we might put a few of those so-called principles into perspective.
His sense of the absurd stretches to those who most closely identify with him and even himself. Could, for instance, anything be more absurd than Ringo playing Zappa in his film “200 Motels” which deals with some of those social anachronisms?
“One of the things which worries me most about the youth of today is their inability to laugh at themselves,” says Frank.
“For example, if I appear at the Roundhouse and poke fun at that dirty old middle-aged man, it`s O.K. But if I make a reference to dirty, long-haired drug-infected hippies there`s an immediate `you can`t talk about us like that` attitude.”

Zappa commands attention by adopting a position of attack as the best form of defence, and his shock tactics usually produce the desired result – reaction.
His heart-felt shriek is `Why?` when it comes to the question of morality, and his concern is usually for the despised, or those held in contempt by a Society inbred with hypocrisy at high levels.
“I never realised groupies were a persecuted minority until Rolling Stone began writing about them as if they were dirt. Some people assume that any girl who takes her pants off for a guy in a rock and roll band must be a pig, a dog or some kind of preying mantis.
“To me, groupies are girls you meet on the road. Some are nice, some are nasty, some have a sense of humour, some have none, some are smart and some are dumb. They`re just people.”

Zappa believes, quite fervently, that obscenity is usually bred by ignorance in the mind of the individual, and his film and his music often reflect his frustration of illogical ethics. He may not be Mary Whitehouse, but he does make some kind of moral sense.
“I would say obscenity exists for the edification of people in the legal profession. People in the politics business, and people in the religion business, perpetuate a myth like that in order to gain control of certain sectors of the human consciousness.
“Outside war and certain types of physical distraction, there is no such thing as an obscene act. But then you`re just juggling a word around and making a semantic application. Ordinarily death and destruction are not considered obscene. As a matter of fact, they`re commercial!
“I can see pornography in a different light, when I look at it in the terms of radically-orientated photographs, or things you can place in that category designed for the purpose of stimulating an erotic sensation.
“Pornography is something designed to stimulate you sexually. For people who get stimulated by pictures or hot books, it serves a function in society when they do not have ready access to sexual intercourse, or find it difficult to get off on some other things. Pornography serves a function to those people, and it should be made available to them. Because those who are mal-adjusted sexually will wind up doing things like having wars, and committing murders, and doing a lot of other stuff because of repression.”

Have a look at the concert listings in the NME at the beginning of 1972. Fascinating stuff! Too bad I can`t travel back in time and enjoy some of these concerts when they happened!


This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Badfinger, Maggie Bell, Poco, America, Siffre, Marc Bolan, Steve Howe, Jerry Garcia, Roy Young, Elton John, Chuck Berry, Humble Pie, Strawbs, Black Sabbath, Can, Hawkwind, Rick Nelson, James Gang, Bob Ezrin, Dr. John, Grace Slick, Chi Lites and Lou Adler.

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 10 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
  3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.