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Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

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Also Known As: Frank Vincent Zappa Died: December 4, 1993
Born: December 21, 1940 Cause of Death: prostate cancer
Birth Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA Profession: composer, guitarist, singer, film producer, screenwriter, actor, film director, documentarian, writer, activist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As a singer, songwriter, rock guitarist, classical composter, recording producer and even occasional film director, Frank Zappa was as difficult to describe as his eclectic music was throughout his 30-year career. Zappa was without peer, a singular entity who branched out in countless directions, and in the process, became one of the most important and influential musical artists of the latter-20th century. With his most famous band, The Mothers of Invention, he blended rock, jazz, classical, doo-wop, R&B and avant-garde stylings with strange, sexually-tinged lyrics and absurd stage theatrics to create a wholly unique live experience, while in the studio producing outside-the-mainstream albums like Freak Out! (1966), We're Only in it for the Money (1968) and Uncle Meat (1969). Though he fared better in Europe, particularly Germany and Soviet Bloc states, Zappa's influence was felt everywhere, as he branched off into big band jazz fusion on The Grand Wazoo (1972), while producing more conceptual albums with Zoot Allures (1976) and Joe's Garage (1979). Always prone to satirizing hypocrisy in religion, politics and elsewhere, Zappa was cemented as a staunch defender of first amendment rights when he...

As a singer, songwriter, rock guitarist, classical composter, recording producer and even occasional film director, Frank Zappa was as difficult to describe as his eclectic music was throughout his 30-year career. Zappa was without peer, a singular entity who branched out in countless directions, and in the process, became one of the most important and influential musical artists of the latter-20th century. With his most famous band, The Mothers of Invention, he blended rock, jazz, classical, doo-wop, R&B and avant-garde stylings with strange, sexually-tinged lyrics and absurd stage theatrics to create a wholly unique live experience, while in the studio producing outside-the-mainstream albums like Freak Out! (1966), We're Only in it for the Money (1968) and Uncle Meat (1969). Though he fared better in Europe, particularly Germany and Soviet Bloc states, Zappa's influence was felt everywhere, as he branched off into big band jazz fusion on The Grand Wazoo (1972), while producing more conceptual albums with Zoot Allures (1976) and Joe's Garage (1979). Always prone to satirizing hypocrisy in religion, politics and elsewhere, Zappa was cemented as a staunch defender of first amendment rights when he delivered Senate testimony in 1985 against the Parents Music Research Center's idea of labeling records for obscene material. In later years, he shifted away from rock-oriented music toward his classical roots, while waging a battle with pancreatic cancer that he ultimately lost. With his death in 1993, Zappa left behind a legacy that influenced countless musicians and fans.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Baby Snakes (1979) Director
3.
  200 Motels (1971) Characterizations dir

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Derailroaded (2005)
2.
 Funny (1989) Musician/Composer
3.
 Baby Snakes (1979)
4.
 200 Motels (1971) Musician
5.
 Head (1968) The Critic
6.
8.
9.
 Decade (1989)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1950:
Moved to Lancaster in Southern California at the age of ten
:
Kicked out of high school marching band for smoking in uniform
:
Began writing and recording "B" movie scores with singer Ray Collins in the early 1960s
:
Served 10 days in jail and three years on probation after a San Bernardino cop commissioned him to record "sexual" sounds, then arrested him on pornography charges
1964:
Joined the group the Soul Giants, later renamed The Mothers
1966:
Signed a contract with Verve Records, renamed the band The Mothers of Invention
1966:
Released first record with The Mothers of Invention, "Freak Out"
1967:
Took up residence with The Mothers of Invention at the Garrick Theater in Greenwich Village, New York
1968:
Moved back to Los Angeles and started two record labels, Straight and Bizarre, distributed through Reprise Records
1968:
Signed seminal rock influences Alice Cooper and Captain Beefheart to his label
1968:
Feature acting debut, "Head"
1969:
Disbanded the Mothers of Invention
1971:
Reformed the Mothers with a new line-up
1971:
Co-wrote, directed and supplied songs for the cult feature, "200 Motels"
1977:
Filed a law suit against manager Herb Cohen and ended contract with Reprise
1979:
Formed the label Zappa Records through Mercury Records
1979:
Renamed his group Zappa, released first record with Mercury, "Sheik Yerbouti" which included the hit song "Dancing Fool", a disco parody
1979:
Starred, directed, edited and produced the surreal documentary, "Baby Snakes"
1980:
Left Mercury after their refusal to release the single "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted"
1980:
Formed independent label, Barking Pumpkin
:
Formed video production company Honkier Video
1985:
Testified before a Senate sub-committee on "porn rock"
1986:
Appeared as a drug dealer on the 80s cop show, "Miami Vice"
1989:
Wrote autobiography, "The Real Frank Zappa Book"
1989:
Wrote, directed, produced and provided music for the documentary, "The Amazing Mr. Bickford"
1990:
Served as a cultural, tourism and trade advisor to the west for Czechoslovakia under Vaclav Havel
:
Fought a long public battle with cancer
1991:
Honored with a special tribute concert series entitled "Frank Zappa's Universe", featuring classical and rock musicians performing some of his large-scale work and rock tunes
1992:
Final TV appearance on the documentary special, "Democracy in America"
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Notes

"I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone's teeth get cleaner?"--Zappa response to the PMRC's accusation that music lyrics can cause anti-social behavior

In 1982 Zappa helped popularize Southern California slang with the hit single "Valley Girl", sung by his oldest daughter Moon Unit.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gail Zappa. Born c. 1955; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Moon Unit Zappa. Actor, singer. Born September 28, 1967; survived him; enjoyed Top 40 pop hit with the semi-rap song, "Valley Girl", for which her father played guitars; engaged to musician Paul Doucette.
son:
Dweezil Zappa. Actor, musician. Born September 5, 1969; survived him.
son:
Ahmet Zappa. Actor, musician. Born May 15, 1974; survived him.
son:
Ahmet Zappa. Survived him.
daughter:
Diva Zappa. Actor. Born July 20, 1979; survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Real Frank Zappa Book"

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