Frank Zappa - Biography - IMDb
Frank Zappa Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (38)  | Personal Quotes (21)

Overview (4)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Died in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameFrancis Vincent Zappa Jr
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Of all the qualities that typified Frank Zappa, perhaps the most striking is that he was a paradox. A workaholic perfectionist rock star who eschewed the hippie culture of the 1960s, deploring its conformism, spurious ideals and drug use, Zappa was not only a brilliant rock guitarist but an orchestral composer, innovative filmmaker, music producer, businessman, iconoclast and perceptive political and social commentator. His oeuvre continually amazes: over 60 albums of music from rock to orchestral, in addition to innumerable films, concerts and other accomplishments.

Frank Vincent Zappa (b. 21 Dec 1940, Baltimore, MD) began to play drums at the age of 12, and was playing in R&B groups by high school, switching to guitar at 18. After barely graduating from high school, and then dropping out of junior college (where he met his first wife, Kay Sherman), Zappa worked at such jobs as window dresser, copywriter and door-to-door sales,an. With the money he earned from scoring Run Home, Slow (1965) (written by his high school English teacher, Don Cerveris), Zappa purchased a recording studio and, after concocting an allegedly obscene recording for an undercover policeman, spent ten days in jail. Zappa's diverse range of albums (both with the seminal and protean groups The Mothers of Invention and Zappa; as well as solo releases) are renowned not only for their bravura musicianship and satire, but for offending various groups (usually conservatives, both religious and political). The 200 Motels (1971) soundtrack was deemed too offensive by the Royal Albert Hall, which canceled scheduled concerts in 1975; and the song "Jewish Princess" (1979) led to Jewish calls for Zappa to apologize. These, and such events as Zappa testifying before Congress in 1985 against rock music censorship, being appointed by Czech president Václav Havel as his Cultural Liaison Officer or considering running for US president, have unfortunately been Zappa's only real source of mainstream publicity.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991, Zappa nonetheless continued working at his Hollywood Hills home, until his death on 4 December 1993. His widow, Gail, and children Dweezil Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa, Ahmet Zappa and Diva Zappa, soon released a statement to the press that simply stated: "Composer Frank Zappa left for his final tour just before 6pm Saturday."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matt Randall <> (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Family (3)

Spouse Gail Zappa (21 September 1967 - 4 December 1993)  (his death)  (4 children)
Kathryn J. (Kay) Sherman (28 December 1960 - 1964)  (divorced)
Children Ahmet Zappa
Moon Unit Zappa
Dweezil Zappa
Diva Zappa
Relatives Lala Sloatman (niece or nephew)
Mathilda Doucette Zappa (grandchild)

Trade Mark (3)

Moustache, cigarette smoking
Dark and sarcastic sense of humour
Long guitar solos

Trivia (38)

When marrying Gail Zappa in a civil ceremony, he attached a pin that said "Congratulations from Mayor Lindsay" onto her in lieu of a ring. John V. Lindsay was mayor of New York City at the time.
Was school friends with Don Van Vliet (later to be known as Captain Beefheart).
Is known affectionately by his fans as FZ.
Has an enormous following in the former Communist countries of eastern Europe.
In July 1994, the International Astronomical Union named a Czech-discovered asteroid "Zappafrank".
As a child, his favorite television program was Robert Clampett's puppet show Time for Beany (1949).
The small town of Bad Doberan, Germany, holds an annual Zappanale festival, celebrating his life and music (first held in 1990).
His father, Francis Vincent Zappa, was born in Partinico, Sicily, and his mother, Rose Marie (Colimore), was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Italian parents.
Following his death, he was interred in an unmarked grave next to Lew Ayres at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
In 1995, a group of Lithuanian artists erected the world's first Zappa statue in Vilnius, the capital. Since then one has been erected in Bad Doberan, Germany (which Gail Zappa says does not look like him), and another (a copy of the bust in Vilnius) in Baltimore, Maryland.
In recent years, various reworkings of his songs have been recorded, including versions in Baroque instrumental and a cappella vocal stylings.
Inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Zappa is the first, and so far only, artist to be inducted into both the Jazz and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
In March of 2003 his 1979 album "Joe's Garage" came 20th in Classic Rock Magazine's list of the 30 greatest concept albums of all time.
Gave up his driver's license voluntarily, because he hated standing in line at the DMV.
Wrote his own copyright notice, that appeared on his later records, and was the first to specifically mention sampling. Also released the first 3-inch CD single, with a remix of "Peaches En Regalia", in the late 1980s.
Used a wah-wah with his onstage guitar setup, which he had usually leave set in one position as a filter, rather than rock it to get the wah effect.
Bought a small recording studio with the proceeds of his score for Run Home, Slow (1965); first came to public attention when he was arrested in a scandal involving the studio (he was later cleared).
Started out playing drums in his teens, then adopted his brother's f-hole acoustic guitar, trying to copy horn and guitar solos on blues and jazz records. Later studied Music Theory in college.
Included a warning-cum-guarantee on his late-1980s albums, deriding the Religious Right's attack on rock and pop music, and censorship in general, and concluding "If there is a Hell, its fires wait for them, not us.".
He was voted the 21st Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artists of all time by Rolling Stone.
During his last days, he wanted to make a movie called "Dwell". "Dwell" would have been a musical about a giant spider, but from the spider's point of view. He was going to make it with the people from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988), and had several conversations with Kevin Murphy.
Gene Simmons visited with the Zappa family at their home, socializing, some time before Zappa's death. During their visit, Zappa showed him something that proved how prolific Zappa was: hundreds of master tapes of unreleased music.
Zappa sponsored Hagstrom guitars early in his career. However, on his first three albums with The Mothers of Invention, he used a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster. During the mid- to late 1970s, he played a highly modified Gibson SG clone. He had one of Jimi Hendrix's guitars which was lit on fire by Jimi at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. The damage to the electronics and plastics on the body was total. Upon receiving the guitar from his father, Dweezil had it restored but rather than returning it to stock, he customized it to his own tastes.
"Cured" his kids of sibling rivalry by making a tape of them squabbling, then forcing them to listen to said tape while handcuffed together in the bathroom; this was to show them how dumb they sounded when bickering.
Despite his prostate cancer, Zappa continued to smoke. He told an interviewer he considered cigarettes to be "food", tobacco his favorite vegetable and did not believe cigarettes caused the reported health problems.
In an interview prior to his death, Zappa revealed he had had urination problems for years but that the prostate cancer wasn't caught until it was inoperable. He hinted this made him extremely bitter and advised others with urination problems to get multiple opinions.
Did not like being called "rock legend" and considered it a "pathetic" term. Also did not like being called a "test pilot pushing the edge" since he felt the term sounded too military. As far as being called an "eccentric genius", Zappa said in an interview prior to his death, "Eccentric, yes. Genius, maybe".
Founded Barking Pumpkin Records in 1981. He also founded Zappa Records, Barfko-Swill [mail order distribution] and DiscReet (record company).
Subject of the song "Frank" by Wild Man Fischer.
Co-founded Bizarre Records in 1967. Bizarre is under the umbrellas of Reprise records, which was founded by Frank Sinatra. While one could not imagine the difference in style, Sinatra knew Zappa was a money-maker and agreed to the setup. Among other things, Bizarre Records was the label for Wildman Fisher, the GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), Lord Buckley, Captain Beefheart, and other extremely outrageous artists.
Inducted into the International Mustache Hall of Fame in 2015 (inaugural class) in the category Music & Arts.
He didn't drink alcohol.
By his own admission, Zappa was not well read and was largely uninterested in literature. He was, however, a fan of William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch and would read aloud passages from the book in concert.
Zappa has been credited for discovering Steve Vai, whom he hired as his lead guitarist from 1980 to 1983. They remained friends until Frank's passing.
He was into high-end synthesizers and was one of the first to own a Synclavier, the very first commercially available digital synthesizer, which in 1982 dollars cost a whopping $100,000.
In 1963 when he was 22 years old he convinced the producers of The New Steve Allen Show (1961) that he could use a bicycle as a musical instrument and appeared on the show. His demo was a failure.

Personal Quotes (21)

Rock journalism is people who can't write, preparing stories based on interviews with people who can't talk, in order to amuse people who can't read.
I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.
I've smoked ten marijuana cigarettes in my life. And they've given me a sore throat, a headache, and made me sleepy. I can't understand why anyone would wanna use the stuff. It seems such an impractical pastime as you can get sent to jail for it.
Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality.
Some rock musicians make a bunch of money and stick it up their noses--I stick mine in my ear.
Work is the only reason I leave home. I'm not a tourist. I don't travel for pleasure. I don't take vacations. I only leave the house when I have something to do.
[Asked to create an anti-drug abuse slogan] Speed will turn you into your parents.
[Explaining why he felt communism was doomed to fail] People like to own things.
[in the late 1980s] Religion has mostly proven to be a real-estate scam.
Censoring what you say is one of the ways in which people who are not nice can take away your personal freedom.
It is probably more natural to perform sex with a sea urchin than to be interviewed.
Watch out where the huskies go, don't you eat that yellow snow.
Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say that there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.
My dad was employed as a meteorologist at the Edgewood Arsenal. They made poison gas there during World War II, so I guess it would have been the meteorologist's job to figure out which way the wind was blowing when it was time to shoot the stuff off.
[During an appearance in 1986 on CNN's Crossfire (1982)] The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It's the turning of this country into a fascist theocracy and everything that's happened during the [Ronald Reagan] Administration has put us right down that pipe!
I think business is a good thing. Generals could learn a lot from corporate executives. The first rule is, you don't kill your customers.
[about himself] We live in a world of basic stereotyping. All a guy needs is a big nose and weird hair; with that, he's capable of anything.
Those who are crazy enough to take the chance on spending money to make some unusual object or event take place are an endangered species.
Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.
I think Live Aid was the biggest cocaine money laundering scheme of all time.
A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it isn't open.

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