thoughts on frank zappa

the thought for this thread started from a response that jeffloistarca gave & he is correct,most people think fz was a drug crazed nut & his music is for stoners,this was farthest from the truth,the thing fish is without a doubt a masterpiece,the line up of his band was always of the best of the best,it seems that frank has 2 different reputations,in the states he is a nut for the most part but in europe he is put beside the likes of motzart & bach,i find it odd that a man who could write a symphony on a whim could be classed with the likes of alice cooper,i just wanted to hear others thoughts on frank,by the way anybody checked out
ZAPPAS UNIVERSE on dvd,a must see for all zappa fans.
Not to even mention that Frank Zappa had his Phd in English Literature and would often speak in many of the most well respected California learning institutions.

Frank Zappa was in fact an EXTREMELY intellegent and talented individual.

We ALL suffered a major loss when we lost F.Z.
Frank did produce alice cooper's first album. He also was in a band with Al Cooper that became famous as Blood, Sweat, and Tears. He was a musician far ahead of the times and had a head for arrangement unseen in modern times. He would routinely take instruments recorded in one song and pull them off into different songs at different tempo's. Only a genius could 1) remember the individual instruments arrangement, 2) be cogniscent of the music relationship, and 3) not be bothered to re-record the part.

I am very sad Frank died so young. He was always fun. Even when he was serious; like when he fought against the banning of lyrics in Congress. He knew how to be perfectly serious with the politicians, but at the same time, show how rediculuous the whole thing was.

I would have loved to hear him using modern digital technology.
One of the musical geniuses of our time. He's one of those people I literally thank God for.
Brilliant! I second "musical genius".
Zappa was genius. Literally. Granted many found his more known music 'weird', and much of his creations 'out there', but of course opinions, preferences, and how open people are to giving music a chance, or trying to understand it vary greatly. The same can be said about many genres, musicians, and composers.

I always find it humorous the amount of people, that as you said, considered him a 'drug crazed nut', which I always find humourous as he was not involved with drugs at all and didn't drink. Unless you consider the fact that he considered cigarettes a food group, and drank coffee to no end.

Outside of music, his ideas and writing are just as wonderful.
Listen to Overnite Sensation or One Size Fits All...absolute genius...I know many of his other works were genius, those two just happen to be my favroites
A correction: Zappa didn't have any college degree

"If you want to get laid, go to college, but if you want an education, go to the library.”

"You get nothing with your college degree."

(a true zen saying: nothing is what I want. the results of a higher education...)

Zappa was a genius, not only in music.
and for those of you who didn't already know, Zappa was -- except for nicotine -- TOTALLY CLEAN AND SOBER HIS WHOLE LIFE. He was not remotely "drug crazed" but I think maybe be was a "nut." And that's a good thing.
I agree with all of you! Frank Zappa was a genius, and yes was clean and sober through it!

I had the pleasure of seeing him live at Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum on Halloween night or the them or Us tour. I think it was ’85 as I was in HS at the time, great show from the second row my buddy and I some how snuck into for the entire show…which we where both dressed as sheiks for! My brother was a huge Zappa fan and collector, and I’m sure to this day still has his COMPLETE Vinyl collection, mainly original pressings and at least one unopened copy of all early work (yes, ALL the early stuff) up to at least Sheik yer bouty (sp?). We even had our mother listening to Frank! She loved the song Bobby Brown (SYB).

As for his education…. Frank was a graduate of Juliard. He graduated last in his class, but got in and finished!!

I think for me he really shined in the congressional hearing. Unfortunately, many ‘rock starts’ went to these hearings, armed with little more than angst and a preference. Some, Dee Snyder also comes to mind, went with intelligible ideas and presented themselves in a professional manner, getting their points across in a positive way. Frank was undoubtedly the top of the top in this arena! I’m sorry he’s gone… but I’ll never forget him that Halloween night!
No doubt F.Z. was very very talented, BUT putting him "beside the likes of Mozart & Bach" (now we are talking about true GENIUSES) is ridiculous to me!
I saw an interviewer accuse Frank of the drug crazed rock star thing while he was being considered as a Czech ambassador. Frank didn't take too kindly to that line of thought given he was indeed clean and sobar throughout. I heard once that Frank's IQ was in the 240 range, a tad above average i'd say.

One of the great things he did was bring all kinds of killer young musicians into the spotlight. I saw him with Steve Via when Steve was only 18. Jean Luc Ponty, Terry Bozio and a hoard of others also emerged from his unreal bands.
I thinki Chad Wackerman was only 16 on his first Zappa appearance. Can anyone verify?
my wife hates zappa.

i hate the nutcracker.

neither of us is right to say the other is garbage. in fact, they both are genius. its only dependent on if you have an open mind to the talent that is obvious (regardless of if you agree with it).

cher will live to be 200, and zappa dies in his 50s. the world is unfair.

"Average" IQ is 100, people like Einstein and such are around 170-180, there is no way in the world that Zappa had an IQ of 240. 140, maybe - and 140 ain't too shabby...

Old Frank may have been "clean and sober" but forgot to mention this until twenty years later.
Who makes an album called "Freak Out", in the midst of Timothy Leary and the drug culture, for an audience who is "clean and sober"?
Conspiracy theorist could argue that the whole Ivy Leauge "Free Speech", "Free Love" movements were a ploy to distract the masses at the critical time they should have been planning for the future. There really isn't much room at the top, is there?
My neighborhood lost about a dozen kids (i.e. dead) from "doing what feels good" and "doing their own thing".
I bought into the myth as well but survived somewhat intact (but will probably be eating dogfood if I ever retire).
Yes Frank was a good guy and I don't blame him for my mistakes. Just don't hold him up as a champion of "clean and sober".
Dweller, your assertion is ridiculous. There is nothing in "Freak Out" that promotes substance abuse. The message was individualism and he promoted thinking for oneself and rejecting gurus, trends and fake American "culture." Zappa didn't miss an opportunity to criticize drug abuse. "We're only in it for the money" is full of anti-drug sentiment. He was indeed a champion of "clean and sober" with the exception of his substance abuses of nicotine and caffeine.
It seems I'm having a hard time getting through the moderators. I see all kinds of profanity on this forum, and yet when I include some "tasteful relevant profanity" (LOL) it gets my post rejected. Here goes again:

Another correction: Zappa didn't graduate from "Juilard" or Juilliard or any other music school. He barely passed high school and they ending up passing him with less than the required number of credits just to get rid of him. And before anybody restates the following ridiculous rumor, he didn't eat feces on stage either. Where do people get these ideas?
"Who could Imagine"...
You do know what "freak out" means, don't you...
Dweller, this essay may enlighten you and maybe even allow you to "Freak out" (safely) yourself:

However, the beauty of art is its ability to be interpreted by the individual any way that he sees fit. If Zappa's music caused you to indulge in mind destroying drugs, I'm sure that would have been fine with him if it made you happy, but I don't think he would have approved of you implying that that was his intent.
That's like saying he regularly "plooked" a tiny chrome plated machine that looked like a magical pig with marital aids stuck all over it.

Gimme dat, Gimme dat, blowowo job.

Gimme dat chromium cob.

God I miss FZ.
BTW, with all seriousness, here are some interesting tidbits on FZ:
btw i have just about the complete zappa catalog including the old masters sets & the you cant do that on stage anymore sets & the picture discs not to mention the 74 bootlegs i have,i also saw fz twice,for all you clasical music kinda guys check out all 3 london symphony albums &
civilation phase 3 & a piece called the yellow shark,
for all the fusion jazz guys check out sleep dirt & the grand wazoo & jean luc ponty plays zappas king kong,weather you choose to believe it or not fz is thought of very highly in the clasical music realm in europe,heres a tid bit for the true zappa fans,do a google search on SCOTT THUNES 1 of the zappa band bass players,he has a web address & will answer your questions & mail,he was very friendly to me via email, if you have never heard the thing fish & you like zappa its a must,its worth the 35$,its all done in BLACK FACE amos & andy sounding lyrics,BTW nobody mentioned that frank started the GTO'S or that he produced a grand funk album & thats the crux of the biscut.
btw imin2u,i think terry ted bozzio that cute little drummer is who you are thinking of instead of chad wackerman.
FZ worked like a maniac ... never stopped, and was a really absorbent guy. He used the stuff that surrounded him and the personalities and musical gifts of countless band members to make great records. He was probably too smart (and busy) to ever take an IQ test and the fact that he had no formal education beyond HS, (but dwarfed lots of PHD and Julliard guys) is coolern' hell. To a large degree, he was a musical assembler, control freak and an organiser, (the central scrutinizer). In THE REAL FRANK ZAPPA book he says that he tried the weedus a few times but didn't like it or any other suppliments that impaired recall, rehearsals or control. Not really a guy who invented new compositional concepts, (Varese, Robert Johnson, Eddie Guitar Slim, Bach, Stravinsky and Dolphy were among his heroes and it shows). Still it's kind of obvious that alot of his compositions can really hit a soft spot and will probably be around as long we keep cranking out two legged rats... Genius works for me
Who would've thought that a kid from Lancaster would end up as a trade and tourism liaison for Czechoslovakia? You have to wonder how well albums like Burnt Weenie Sandwich translated into Czech. And those album covers of his could keep one entertained for...well, what seemed like hours.
Ah well, yes, a genius. Most of the falsehoods about him iterated above have already been rebuffed in subsequent posts. How does Burnt Weenie Sandwich play in Czech? Great. It's almost entirely instrumental, and the vocal compositions are silly songs. He had fun with lyrics, but their contents were a vehicle for two amusement and social commentary. On the other hand, his vocal writing was fantastic. To him, music was basically instrtumental -- organized sound -- and the voice, so far as musically relevant, was just more sound. He wrote some stupendous choral music -- check out the medley starting with "Beauty Knows no Pain" on "You are What You Is" for an example. A main reason he had lyrics at all was that he realized you couldn't get american popular music audiences to pay attention to instrumentals. He needed to fill pop concert halls, to get money to finance orchestral performances. But even so, the lyrics are rather brilliant, though there is not a trace of sentimentality in all of Zappa's public life. See Ben Watson's "The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play" for a long haired, long winded rather crazed, but fascinating account of Zappa and his work, repleat with psycho-analytic and post-modern critical theory analyses of his lyrics.

For my money, also, Zappa is the most original and riveting electric guitarist of "rock" music. Everyone else, great thought they are, including Hendrix, is pplaying blues -- (not "The Blues", but blues). Zappa is not.

I did not get into Zappa until affter he died, after I listened to almost nothing but classical music and some Jazz for nearly 15 years. My taste ran to the relatively complex and "difficult" musics of both genres. Pop just wasn't musically interesting enough for my ears. Metrically too simple, altogether compositionally thin, dynamically compressed, emotionally unsubtle. All the songs like so many huts. Then I heard Zappa -- a grad student of mine lent me some of his CDs; I think that YCDTOSAM volume 2 -- the Helsinki Concert was the first. Blew me away. Inca Roads, Uncle Meat, Dogbreath, RDNZL. In it I found the compositional virtues I loved in classical music. Architectural palaces, or at least mansions -- Beethoven Bach, Starvbinski wrote palaces. And it ALSO rocked. cool. I listened to almost nothing else for about 2 years. Really couldn't see the point.

I am back into popular idioms now to a pretty substantial extent. Interestingly this coincides with my getting a better system, so that I am now listening more to my equipment than I had before. That's telling and ironic, since my system is pretty decent, but really no match for really large or complex music. So I tend to listen to stuff that my system can more easily handle. Getting interested in equipment and fidelity has made me more attentive to the virtues of what I think is, from a compositional standpoint, musically less impressive stuff. Great bluegrass playing, the Beatles, The Band, The Allman Brothers: my system makes them far more satisfying to me than ever before. But I am wistful for my ability to listen to compositions themselves. My ears may be happier in a sense now, but my musical intelligence is a little less acute, and my musical experience a bit impoverished.

Sorry for the tangent, relative to this thread.

Uncle Meat is probably my favorite Zappa album (out of many I love). What a feast.

ooops 140, 240, whats a couple of IQ points amoung fans? Ronvandiep has problems comparing Frank with Mozart But i can't see it. Mozart's sence of fun would have gone hand in had with Frank's sence of humor, they would have made a great band. Bach is a tad too machanical in terms of form relative to Franks free form approach but i think Frank is easily in the same leaque in talent, he just writes different music. Based on what gets played on NPR and who gets quated as the great composers it seems like the evolution of clasical music stopped and died with a set bunch of dead europeans...not true. Free your mind and your ears will follow.
I'm open-minded my friend, I think F.Zappa's music is great (but not as great as Mozart's or Bach's). Besides, I wasn't comparing anything, I just said that such comparisons are absurd.
Frank Zappa? ouch!! sorry, I prefer Celine Dione...
In fairness to Mr. Z, I did hear an anti-drug public service message he did way-back-when.
With his patented, cold-slap-in-the-face, "it's your ass not mine" delivery, it went:

Want to die?
Do a little speed.
Rot your brain,
Rot your liver,
Rot your kidneys,
Cukka Ratcha.

He did have style...
whoa fellas,i wasnt comparing fz to bach or anybody else for that matter i was just relaying the info that i know to be true,im a huge zappa fan & i bought & play his orchestral albums only beacuse i like them & not beacuse they are popular,i am not kiddin you about the europeans though,they do worship his music & they even have statues of him in downtown prague,besides bach or straus where else can you hear the harpcicord being played to its fullest or a bassoon ,wheather or not you like fz isnt important to me but you can not deny the creative mind of fz,remember that if we all liked the same stuff we would all be listening to michael jackson right now & that would really suck.
You think f.z. was a genius just because you are a huge fan of his? oh, boy!! then all Michael Jakson´s huge fans can say he was a genius as well! ha ha! and they can put him at the same level of Mozart and Bach! ha ha! all we can say our favorite artist/singer is/was a genius!!(like all those europeans you mentioned).

"they even have statues of him in downtown prague,besides bach or straus ", I really doubt it.
BTW, I am also a huge fan of f.z. believe it or not!

Happy listenning.
ronvandiep3n: Please reread Bigjoe's post. You have misinterpreted at least two things that he wrote. Pay particular attention to the commas. In this case, the crux of the biscuit is the comma. I'd like to add that Mozart and Bach had the advantage of talented musicians that were funded, willing and capable of playing their works in their day. If Zappa had a similar good fortune, he likely would have devoted his life to his modern classical compositions. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view, he was forced to utilize the rock medium to present his work. I believe that hundreds of years from now, his music will still be studied and performed, and given its rightful place in the history of classical music. It may not be Prague, but here's a link for your reference:,7451,433402,00.html and another that may interest you:

Long live Zappa!
If you want to compare Zappa's talent to any "classical" composer talent, I'd put Zappa at the same level of Corelli or Schoenberg. Of course, these composers are not at the same level of Mozart or Bach (in terms of genius), but their music for sure will be played in some classical concerts from time to time, as now is the case of Zappa.
As I write this I'm enjoying "Hot Rats" album. Long live Zappa!
Regarding the 'statue' thing, although just briefly, michael jackson also had his statue IN PRAGUE, check the link out:

Long live Jackson!
the reason i used motzart & bach for an example was beacuse i cant spell any of the other guys names,as for the european thing i was merely stating a fact & a fact it is ,
hell in some places in europe they poop in the street but im not advocating that either & for michael jackson the only thing he is good at is lookin like zera from the planet of the apes movies.
Nothing like some nice, friendly, exchanges of admiration for an extremely accomplished musician. Or a shitting match.


I hate to mention this gentleman, but this is the kind of crap FZ would love to comment on.

With all do respect.
You can not even spell 'Mozart'!! (not Motzart), so if you can not spell Mozart's name (from this, I assume you know very little of his 626 works), why didn't you compare f.z. to 'God'!!? (easier to spell, isn't it?).

BTW, I agree with your comments on Michael Jackson.
haha,you got me on the spelling.
I think genius ,When I was 14 I brought home "Apostrophe"and would listen to it almost every day,that album really had my parents worried for some reason,,
From This pretty much sums up just about every Zappa fan(atic) I've ever run into:

Frank Zappa Fan Thinks You Just Haven't Heard The Right Album

NEDERLAND, CO—In spite of your insistence that you are not into Frank Zappa, avid fan Roger Von Lee believes that you would change your mind if you heard the right album. "You're prejudiced, because the only Zappa you know is 'Valley Girl' and 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow,'" Von Lee told you Tuesday. "Seriously, you need to check out Hot Rats or Absolutely Free. Zappa and the Mothers were at their peak, and Zappa's jazz-rock fusion experiments predate Bitches Brew. That'll totally convince you that Zappa's the shit." Von Lee added that if those two don't get under your skin, he can recommend another 15 to 20 albums that will for sure.

Personally, I don't get him. I'm not going to sit here and slam on him as he was obviously quite talented. However the things he created with that talent...

He wrote music, but wasn't musical IMO. Very difficult for me to listen to for more than a song or two.