Room 74--Frank

Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, musician, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa established himself as a prolific and highly distinctive composer, electric guitar player and band leader. He worked in various different musical genres and wrote music for rock bands, jazz ensembles, synthesizers and symphony orchestra, as well as musique concrète works constructed from pre-recorded, synthesized or sampled sources. In addition to his music recordings, he created feature-length and short films, music videos, and album covers.

Although he only occasionally achieved major commercial success, he maintained a highly productive career that encompassed composing, recording, touring, producing and merchandising his own and others' music. Zappa self-produced almost every one of the more than sixty albums he released with the Mothers of Invention or as a solo artist. He received multiple Grammy nominations and won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1988 for the album Jazz from Hell.

Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 2005, his 1968 album with the Mothers of Invention, We're Only in It for the Money, was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board's National Recording Registry. The same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #71 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2007, his birthtown Baltimore declared August 9 official "Frank Zappa Day" in his honor.

He was an absolutely outrageous figure. One of the most bizarre tunes on his first album, Freak Out! was Who Are the Brain Police? Its lyrics went in part:

What will you do if we let you go home?
And the plastic’s all melted and so is the chrome?
Who are the brain police?

What will you do when the label comes off,
And the plastic's all melted,
And the chrome is too soft?

Think I'm very tired and I'm going to die
I think I'm going to die, I think I'm going to die

What will you do if the people you knew
Were the plastic that melted,
And the chromium too?

Zappa’s best albums?

One Size Fits All
We’re Only In It for the Money
You Are What You Is

A Finnish ensemble that plays early instruments, known as Ensemble Ambrosius has recorded an unusual CD of Frank Zappa tunes on period instruments. Here’s a sample—the song Uncle Meat.


If you don’t know the music of Frank Zappa, investigate it. He was a brilliant composer who created some incredibly complex music.

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