FRANK ZAPPA BIOGRAPHY
|Frank Vincent Zappa was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 21, 1940, the first of four children to Rose Marie (Colimore) and Francis
Vincent Zappa, a Sicilian immigrant. The family moved frequently due to
Francis Vincent Zappa's expertise as a chemist and mathematician,
contracted with various aspects of the defense industry.Frank Zappa was
largely a self-taught musician, whose 30-year career embraced a wide
variety of musical genres, encompassing rock, jazz, synth and
symphonies. Avant-garde composers, as well as math and chemistry from
his father's work, all fell into Zappa's mix of influences and comprised
his unique approach to his art, coupled with a flouting of convention.
Zappa also directed films, showing early interest in innovation but this soon turned to
music. Avant-guard composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Edgard Varèse
attracted him alongside interest in doo-wop/R&B and modern jazz.
The family eventually settled outside of Los Angeles in Zappa's late
teens, and he soon took up drum and guitar. His proficiency grew so
quickly that by his last year in high school, he was writing, composing
and conducting avant-garde arrangements for the school orchestra.|
But the band was starving, until impresario Herb Cohen (who's career credits include Pete Seeger, Alice Cooper, Lenny Bruce and Linda Ronstadt) took them on and began booking them at hotspots such as Whiskey A-Go-Go.
Their debut album, Freak Out!, launched them as The Mothers of Invention. It wasonly the second double rock album ever released—a groundbreaking mélange of musical genres both innovative and irreverent. That tone continued with their second album, Absolutely Free, and regular New York shows that were part concert, part free-for-all circus with stuffed animals and vegetables.
Their reputation established, they gained a European following as well with a memorable appearance with the London Philharmonic.
But in 1971, serious setbacks occurred: during a concert in Switzerland, the venue went up in flames—the event was memorialized in Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Just one week later, Zappa suffered an on-stage fall that resulted in serious injuries including a crushed larynx and multiple fractures—he was left with a limp, a lowered voice, and back pain for the rest of his life.
Never fully fitting into the rock genre anyway, partly due to his refusal to embrace its drug culture,
he moved toward the formation of new bands with more of a jazz base. The decade of the '70s cultivated his reputation as one of the music industry’s most accomplished and demanding bandleaders. His prolific orchestral output was bisected by an unexpected Top 40 hit, "Valley Girl," performed with his daughter, Moon Unit, which funded more of his less commercially viable musical projects.
In 1990, Czechoslovakian President Václav Havel appointed Zappa as his cultural liaison officer, but Pesident George H.W. Bush soon quashed the appointment. Thereafter, Zappa briefly considered running for U.S. president.
While the general public's perception was often one of a kook, Zappa was deeply respected as a consummate musician and composer, an innovative filmmaker, and a prolific cross-genre artist.
In 1995, Frank Zappa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; in 1997, he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
|(1973) OVERNITE SENSATION|
|(1982) SHIP ARRIVING TOO LATE TO SAVE A DROWNING WITCH|
|(1983) THE MAN FROM UTOPIA|