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Frank Zappa wants you to ‘vote like a beast’
10.20.2016
01:50 pm

Topics:
Music
Politics
Television

Tags:
Frank Zappa


 
Vote suppression is in the news again. In August, Donald Trump, likely recognizing that he was going to lose the election, started talking about the need to prevent voter shenanigans in “certain sections” of Pennsylvania—“you know the ones,” he told them—clear code to his supporters that black people in Pennsylvania’s urban areas were plotting to steal the vote on behalf of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.

The truth is something like the opposite. Acutely aware that it has a purchase on a dwindling minority of voters, the Republican Party has for some years used the specter of vote fraud to enact legislative measures that would require increased documentation at polling places, measures that are likely to have the effect of limiting the turnout of low-income and/or minority voters, both of which are reliable Democratic constituencies. The “voter fraud” scare is now widely seen as itself to be a voter suppression gambit, as some high-level Republicans are sometimes unwise enough to actuallly admit to in public.

The crucial importance of the vote can be seen in the centuries-long struggles over who gets to vote and who does not. In a sense, artificial or scarcely justified limits on the franchise are as American as apple pie, as Your Vote, a 1991 program for The Learning Channel hosted by none other than Frank Zappa, explains.
 

 
Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, after the disease had progressed unnoticed for roughly a decade. Obviously, as he neared his untimely death, which eventually occurred in December 1993, Zappa’s illness restricted his ability to travel or undertake arduous projects. Zappa is hardly the vigorous figure here that he had once been, but his commitment to the cause of participatory democracy was such that he did the project anyway.

The show begins with footage of George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees for the most recent national election in 1988. It would be easy to frame the story of franchisement in the United States as an optimistic one, with the vote being granted to ever more groups, but that is not the tone adopted here. In this program, the emphasis is squarely on the unjustifiable shenanigans that prevent people from exercising one of the most basic human rights.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Everything you need to know about the Frank Zappa auction
10.11.2016
09:52 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Movies
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Bruce Bickford


 
“Auction House to the Stars” Julien’s has announced a large sale of items from the estate of the late cult rocker/social provocateur Frank Zappa and his wife Gail, the trustee of his legacy who herself passed away a year ago this week. Besides revealing a surprisingly gaudy decorating sensibility, the auction is typical rock star fare—paintings of and by the deceased musician, gold and platinum records and other sales awards, clothing, jewelry, and other ephemera that for some reason people want to possess. And of course there are some pretty tasty guitars in the offing—including an Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow, a very rare guitar that made news about a year ago when Jimi Hendrix’s was the object of a lawsuit. But the items that make this auction truly noteworthy in our opinion are the original assemblage sculpture that served as the cover art of Burnt Weeny Sandwich, the set of apparently one-of-a-kind Zappa portrait matryoshka dolls
 

I kinda REALLY WANT these.

…and the dozen lots (324-335) of Bruce Bickford claymation figures used to make the brain-eatingly lysergic animated sequences in the classic Baby Snakes concert film.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Rare photos of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa & more from Japanese magazine ‘Music Life’


A beaming Hoshika Rumiko with The Beatles on the cover of issue number eight of ‘Music Life,’ 1965.
 
According to fans the Japanese magazine Music Life (published by Shinko Music Entertainment) is considered the greatest music publication in Japan. The magazine got its real start sometime in 1951 after a failed launch five-years earlier in 1946. When a former member of the magazine’s editorial staff, Hoshika Rumiko, took over as the magazine’s editor in 1964, she also became the first Japanese journalist to interview The Beatles in London and then once again when the band came to Japan in 1966. Rumiko even appeared on the cover of Music Life in 1965 along with John, Paul, George and Ringo dressed in traditional Japanese attire. When her interview with the Fab Four was published the magazine sold 250,000 copies—a far cry from their usual distribution of 50,000-70,000 copies per issue.

Known for its high-quality photographs printed on thick glossy paper Music Life was reportedly one of Japan’s best selling magazines during the 60’s and 70s and featured photos and interviews with EVERYONE that was anyone especially musical acts that were “big in Japan” like David Sylvian (of the band Japan), Queen, The Runways, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa, and of course KISS. Most of the images I’ve included here I’ve never laid eyes on myself, like one of an eighteen-year-old Peter Frampton with a brown Beatle-esque haircut from 1968 and another of Iron Maiden posing the cover of Music Life in 1981 with a heavy metal-looking Kabuki entertainer instead of their faithful mascot Eddie.

The magazine called it a day in 1998 and Rumiko is currently working to complete her biography detailing her life as a pioneering female journalist in Japan (something I will absolutely be reading when it comes out in English) sometime late this year. As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers enjoy collecting vintage music magazines, copies of Music Life are fairly easy to come by and will run you anywhere from $20 to about $75 bucks an issue on eBay. If you dig what you see in this post, you can also see more of the magazine’s cool covers that date back to 1968 at this archival site.


Marc Bolan of T.Rex on the cover of issue number twelve of ‘Music Life,’ 1972.
 

Adam Ant, 1981.
 

Frank Zappa, 1969.

Much more ‘Music Life’ after the jump…

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Little Feat’s Lowell George makes a cameo appearance on TV’s ‘F Troop,’ 1967
08.10.2016
02:53 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Lowell George
F Troop


 
File this one under “I did not know that” (said like Johnny Carson): If you look him up on IMDB (which I did recently, although I can’t exactly recall why) you will see that rocker Lowell George, he of Little Feat fame, made a cameo appearance on the sixties TV sitcom F Troop. In 1967 George portrayed a long-haired member of an anachronistic teen combo called The Bedbugs, the joke (one F Troop used more than once) being that you have a rock group right after the Civil War. Har!

Along with George, the other members of the Bedbugs were played by guitarists Warren S. Klein (who was in the Stooges circa 1973) and Martin F. Kibbee; and future Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward. At the time, the four of them were collectively known as The Factory. Frank Zappa would produce two songs for the group, which remained unreleased until 1993’s Lightning-Rod Man anthology.

After the Factory disbanded, Lowell would briefly join The Standells before becoming (again briefly) a member of Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, appearing on the Weasels Ripped My Flesh album on rhythm guitar. The teetotal Zappa either fired him, or George left voluntarily, over Lowell’s penchant for partying and pot.
 

Zappa and Lowell George
 
The Factory would also appear in an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC but whatever song they were playing got removed from the eventual DVD release.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
DIY models kits (apparently) of Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, ‘Diamond Dog’ Bowie, Marc Bolan & more


Now who does this rock ‘n’ roll animal resin kit look like to you?
 
Monsters in Motion, the self-described “one-stop monster shop” based in Placentia, California sells many strange things. Things like a replica of the bloody shirt that Bruce Willis’ character wore in Pulp Fiction. There’s so much strange ephemera to sift through on their website that I decided to go directly for the “Rock & Roll Collectables” category to see what kind of weirdness was being offered up there.

If you came into this world at a certain time period you remember building models of hot rods because that was where it was at. While you won’t find a kit that helps you build a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (my vintage getaway car of choice) you will find several DIY kits that allow you to create your own tiny versions of (allegededly) Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger-there’s even a resin facsimile of David Bowie as rendered by artist Guy Peellaert on the cover of his 1974 album Diamond Dogs.

The images are a bit tatty, but see if you can make out who they’re supposed to be.
 

 

The Lizard King
 
More after the jump…

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Freaky French comic from the 70s that tells the far-out story of Frank Zappa’s ‘Stink-Foot’


Frank Zappa ‘Stink-Foot’ illustration.
 
The strange French comic featured in this post based on Frank Zappa’s song “Stink-Foot” from his 1974 album, Apostrophe (’) was done by French illustrator Jean Solé back in 1975 when appeared in the French satire magazine Fluide Glacial in a special comic layout called Pop & Rock & Colegram.
 

An illustration from ‘Pop & Rock & Colegram’ riffing on the RCA Victor (among others) canine spokesperson ‘Nipper’ featuring Jean Solé, Gotlieb, and Alain Dister.
 
In the comics (that were published in Fluide Glacial from 1975-1978) by French illustrators Marcel Gotlieb (known as “Gotlib”) and Jean Solé the task was to create parody-style illustrations based on popular songs from bands like the Beatles, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd and in this case Solé‘s fantastic four-page take on Zappa’s “Stink-Foot.” Translated by renowned French music journalist Alain Dister, Solé‘s illustrations of Zappa’s jazzy six-minute jam about stinky feet is pretty spot on right down to an illustration of Zappa struggling to get his smelly python boots off. Here’s a samplings of the funky lyrics from “Stink-Foot:

You know
My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off
And my girlfriend cried, YOU GOT STINK-FOOT!
Stink-foot, darlin’

Your Stink-foot
Puts a hurt on my nose
Stink-foot, stink-foot, I ain’t lyin’
Can you rinse it off, do you suppose?

Though it’s rather difficult to find, the magazine has been reprinted since 1975 and if you dig what you are about to see, it’s well worth trying to track down.
 

 
More “Stink-Foot” after the jump…

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Frank Zappa performs all of ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow’ live in 1978
06.16.2016
04:46 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa


Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow’ Zappa Utility Muffins complete with ‘deadly yellow snow crystals’

The juvenile humor that crept into Frank Zappa’s work from the early 70s onward is difficult for me to defend. Even as an admitted Zappa freak, I tend to steer clear of anything not mostly instrumental after a certain point. It was an obvious decision that Frank Zappa made, not only as an artist, but as a businessman and a touring bandleader operating his own record label, to go there with the silly, goofy sexual and scatological subject matter that would endear him to pimply-faced teenage boys the world over, and sell more records and concert tickets to be sure, but most of it just makes me wince.

I’ve heard a tape of Genesis P-Orridge and a music journalist named Sandy Robertson interviewing Zappa in a London hotel around the time that Zoot Allures came out. Genesis pursues a (polite) line of questioning about Zappa’s “old style” with the more “serious” sound of the original Mothers evolving into the “comedy” material of the 70s around the time of Over-Nite Sensation and Roxy & Elsewhere and gets a flat-out denial from Zappa that there was ever any change whatsoever in his work, which is obviously just not true.
 

 
Nevertheless, there were still some pretty incredible gems he was turning out, like the Raymond Scott-esque song suite that takes up side one of Apostrophe (’), beginning with “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.” Yes, it’s about “doggie wee-wee” and a leprechaun who is masturbating into a sock, but Zappa does the cartoon music thing really, really well—helped out immensely by his percussionist Ruth Underwood on marimba and trombonist Bruce Fowler—and this material was super well-recorded, so on a good stereo, certain things really jump out at you.

When Apostrophe (’) came out in 1974 a disc jockey in Pittsburgh made an edited version of “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” and “Nanook Rubs It” and the song became a local hit. Zappa liked the idea and made his own edit, incorporating a part of the third number, “St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast.” It reached #86 on the Billboard singles chart and Apostrophe (’) became his biggest commercial success, hitting the top ten in the US for the only time in his career.

More “yellow snow” after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Some stupid with a flare gun’: Frank Zappa & the true story of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’


 
Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” amirite?

Although it is among the most popular guitar riffs in history (if not the #1 most popular riff of all time, because virtually anyone, including your mom, can probably play it) and certainly a song that will never, ever fall out of the classic rock canon, the meaning of the song’s lyrics—once well-known—are becoming increasingly cryptic. It would just be confusing to most people hearing it for the first time playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band:

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

On December 4, 1971 Deep Purple were in Montreux, Switzerland. The plan was to record their next album—what would become their 1972 classic, Machine Head—in the theater of the cavernous Montreux Casino, which was closing down for renovations after a matinee show by the Mothers of Invention.

As the members of Deep Purple watched, the rockin’ teen combo led by Frank Zappa laid into their concert showstopper of the time “King Kong,” when an idiot in the audience fired a flare gun (or more likely a bottle rocket) into the venue’s rattan-covered ceiling during Don Preston’s MiniMoog solo. Although no one was badly injured, the huge casino, along with its theater, restaurants and other entertainment facilities was burned to the ground and the Mothers’ gear was toast. There was an apparently easy and orderly exit for the crowd as the fire was slow at first, but as Deep Purple’s bass guitarist Roger Glover later said “when it caught, it went up like a fireworks display.” Two of Zappa’s roadies, the last to leave, were blown out of a window, but sustained only minor injuries.
 

A postcard of the fire

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out the ground

Even if you don’t know what it means, it sounds good, right?

“Funky Claude” who was “running in and out” refers to Claude Nobs, the casino’s owner and the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival—and as luck would have it, a volunteer fireman—who helped some of the audience members escape to safety and to whom Machine Head was dedicated. He later told Gibson.com

Frank Zappa took his guitar–a Gibson, a very strong one–and he smashed the big window down with his guitar. Then a lot of people could go out through there. The people went out through that exit, and within about five minutes, the 2,000 kids were out. And the people were watching the fire thinking, “Oh, you know, Frank Zappa is just doing an incredible ending to his show.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Suzy Speedfreak, this is the voice of your conscience, baby’: Frank Zappa’s anti drugs PSAs
05.20.2016
04:56 pm

Topics:
Drugs

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Lowell George


 
Frank Zappa was a well-known teetotaler for such a supposedly “far out” rock star. Although he chain-smoked cigarettes like they were food and pounded coffee, the head Mother frowned on drug use and actively discouraged it in his sidemen to the point of allegedly even firing future Little Feat leader Lowell George (who was on Weasels Ripped My Flesh) just for smoking pot—that per Pamela Des Barres—or it might have been for composing a pro-pot song that he wanted the Mothers to play. As George himself revealed to a Rochester, New York audience onstage in 1975 right before playing “Willin’”:

“I was in a group called the Mothers of Invention, but I got fired for writing a song about dope. How ‘bout that shit?”

Perhaps he should have taken his mentor’s advice. Later Zappa was alleged also to have fired Ike Willis for enjoying the high life.

Zappa was so anti-drug that he did something few other rock stars (especially ones with as weird a reputation as he had) would have done (at least convincingly) at the time: He recorded several improvised anti speed PSA radio spots for the Do It Now Foundation. In one of them he claims that using speed will turn you “into your mother and father.” He also tells the listener not to “use smack or downers.”

In the first one, Zappa addresses someone who will be familiar to all Mothers fans and wonders what’s gotten into her…

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention get caught up in a German student riot, 1968

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1968 was a year of great political unrest across Europe. The psychedelic summer of love had quickly faded—replaced by angry students hurling cobblestones at police in Paris or instigating loud and bloody demonstrations against the Vietnam War in London. It was against this background that Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention paid their first visit to Germany on the band’s second tour of Europe. The trip to Germany was to prove memorable for two very different reasons.

Firstly on October 6th, 1968: Zappa and co. appeared on Beat-Club where they jammed through a superb set of tracks including “King Kong,” “A Pound For A Brown On The Bus,” “Sleeping In A Jar” and “Uncle Meat”—all of which would appear on the band’s next album Uncle Meat. There was also an instrumental version of “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black”—from We’re Only in It for the Money; an early attempt at “Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask” and some interesting takes on Richard Wagner’s prelude to act three of Lohengrin and Edgard Varese’s piece for a small orchestra Octandre. All jolly stuff and very agreeable too.

However, any youngsters catching the Mothers on tour at this time may have been fooled into thinking Zappa was the ringleader of some revolutionary collective—which leads us dear reader on to our second reason this was such an interesting occasion..
 
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The Mothers 1968—Ron Kroon / Anefo / Nationaal Archief.
 
A week after their appearance on Beat-Club Zappa and the Mothers played one of Hitler’s old stomping grounds, the Sportpalast in Berlin. It was here Zappa was approached by a group of young German radical students who—depending on which book you read or version you hear—either wanted their pop idol to demand the release of Fritz Teufel—founder of the radical group Kommune 1 who was currently under arrest; or to denounce capitalism from the stage that very night; or show his support for the imminent glorious socialist revolution or wanted they wanted Zappa’s help with their plans to riot for a “socialist education policy.” Take your pick.

Having witnessed the Civil Rights movement in America, Zappa was none too impressed by these grievance hungry students, who had mistakenly taken their cue from the length of the Mothers’ hair and Zappa’s subversive songs that he and they would willingly sign on to the student demands. Understandably, Zappa said “nope” or perhaps he said “nein.”

Undeterred, the students demanded Zappa to order the audience at that night’s concert to go out and set fire to the Allied Command Building on Potsdamer Strasse. Again and none too surprisingly Zappa said “no.” The students felt doubly betrayed.

They soon made their disappointment known at the gig that night when these red kerchiefed malcontents bombarded the stage with vegetables and blasted air horns. The Mothers carried on regardless, as Zappa later recalled:

We had to play a two hour show in the middle of all this bullshit. And these guys were out there stomping around and throwing stuff and the people on the bandstand are getting hit with hard vegetables, you know, cucumbers [laughter]. Squash. you know they really hit you like a rock up there. And they were throwing eggs, and cherry bombs. And then they grabbed this big fence, like a restraining device to keep the audience away from the performers at those events. It was made out of pipes this big around with a chain link fence in between and concrete feet. And about thirty of them picked it up and tried to throw it on stage, which would have killed both of our drummers by pinning them against the amplifiers, you see.

So our manager Herbie [Cohen] and this German promoter Fritz Rau caught it in mid air and threw it back on them. And then this other guy charged the stage and Herbie put his foot through his face. And then they kept on throwing things, and then they kept on trying to get up onto the stage. We kept pushing these guys back—and we’re up there humming and strumming…[laughter] and it was really a very unusual situation.

So then we had to take an intermission, see. We left the stage after an hour of fun and merriment. And during that time the ordinaries, that the local promoter had hired to keep everything under control at the hop thought that we had run off, so they ran away. And when they ran away, about a hundred of these kids went up onto the stage and started stomping all over our equipment.

So we come back from intermission, and here’s all these people milling around on stage. They don’t even know why they’re there. They look like cows. They’re standing there like this. But they’re standing, you know, on drums, and they’re knocking things over, and a few of the guys had stolen small pieces of equipment and disappeared into the audience. They were just making a lot of noise and standing around. Just completely blank. They don’t even know what their revolution is about.

So we started pushing them off the stage. We started putting our equipment back together. We got the PA system working. And I gave them a speech for about 15 minutes, wherein I discussed the possibility that they were acting more like Americans than anything I’ve ever seen. And that pissed them off. And they’re out there yelling “Revolution, Revolution”—and I’m saying “You people need evolution, not revolution.”

And they said, “No take it back you’re the Mothers of Reaction.” And I told them they were [beeped], and they understand English. I told them whether they liked it or not we were going to continued to play the second half of the program. So gradually they shut up, and they sat down. The only thing that happened during the second hour was one cherry bomb on stage.

And we had played about 45-50 minutes, and we were into a long instrumental piece, which was going to be our closing number, and I’d reduced the volume of the tune so that I could say goodnight to the nice German people. At which point the student leader with the red rag around his neck comes running up on stage and grabs the microphone and starts raving in German. I just knew he was telling these people, “I’ve got the matches come with me.”

So we played real loud so nobody could hear what he was saying. Two people were taking the instruments off the stage, you know piece by piece pulling things away until it was just me and the organist left on stage playing one full-volume fuzztone loud ugly note that was just going BLAAAAAH.

And it was the only thing that kept people back off the stage, ‘cause they kept trying to get up onto the stage and this noise would hit them and they’d go ...

Finally, when they got all the drums and all the rest of the stuff out of the way, we just unplugged and split off the stage. And they all came milling back up there. And they looked around and they didn’t know why they were on stage again. That’s Germany today.

Zappa later wrote about it all in the song “Holiday In Berlin”:

Look at all the Germans
Watch them follow orders
See them think they´re doing
Something groovy in the street.

See the student leader,
He´s a rebel prophet
He´s fucked up
He´s still a Nazi
Like his Mom and Dad.

Cheap shot, maybe. That’s what happened in Berlin.

After the jump Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention perform a fantastic improvisational set on ‘Beat-Club’...

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Machine Heads: Deep Purple burn New York City down, 1973

01dple.jpg
Deep Purple, topless
 
There was a point back in the 1970s that whenever you went into a guitar store there was always some dude flicking his locks and playing the familiar plodding riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Well, either that or “Stairway to Heaven” depending on the taste of who was playing. These guys were either shop staff or some kid dreaming of a future rock career. When I bought my first and only guitar the assistant did in fact strum out a few blasts of “Smoke on the Water” to show me just how it was done. That kinda ruined it for me, I have to admit. I was more the Bonzo-Django-Benny Hill kinda player, which might explain my taste in music but doesn’t excuse my lack of any musical talent whatsoever. Least played, soonest mended. I eventually traded my guitar for a portable typewriter from a Bowie fan who had slavishly typed “I Love David” all over its ribbon.

If you hung around long enough listening to that dude riff on “Smoke on the Water” he would also probably tell you why Deep Purple were better than Led Zeppelin—because they were “proper” musicians who had performed “your actual” Concerto for Group and Orchestra with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hal, London in 1969. And why the recent incarnation of the band was better than the first—because (again) they were “proper” musicians not just pop stars, musicians who had honed themselves to the pursuit of musical excellence. Or something like that.
 
01dpehjsmbw.jpg
 
He would also undoubtedly tell you how “Smoke on the Water” was based on a very real fire at the Montreux Casino during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971, where the venue was burnt to the ground. Depending on which version you heard, the fire was caused by either a flaregun fired by a member of the audience, or possibly a firework, or possibly by a “boy throwing lighted matches in the air, and one of them got stuck on the very low ceiling.” Whichever, the fire started and quickly engulfed the building.

Founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Claude Nobs was at the venue that fateful night and helped rescue quite a few of the audience from death. He was also key in persuading Deep Purple not to “scrap” “Smoke on the Water” from inclusion on their mighty album Machine Head. As Nobs recalled:

Deep Purple were watching the whole fire from their hotel window, and they said, “Oh my God, look what happened. Poor Claude and there’s no casino anymore!” They were supposed to do a live gig [at the Casino] and record the new album there. Finally I found a place in a little abandoned hotel next to my house and we made a temporary studio for them.

One day they were coming up for dinner at my house and they said, “Claude we did a little surprise for you, but it’s not going to be on the album. It’s a tune called ‘Smoke On The Water.’” So I listened to it. I said, “You’re crazy. It’s going to be a huge thing.” Now there’s no guitar player in the world who doesn’t know [he hums the riff]. They said, “Oh if you believe so we’ll put it on the album.”

It’s actually the very precise description of the fire in the casino, of Frank Zappa getting the kids out of the casino, and every detail in the song is true. It’s what really happened. In the middle of the song, it says “Funky Claude was getting people out of the building,” and actually when I meet a lot of rock musicians, they still say, “Oh here comes Funky Claude.”

Deep Purple were originally called Roundabout—when the band was just a concept conjured up by Searchers drummer Chris Curtis in 1967. Curtis shared a low rent apartment with young musician Jon Lord, who was earning his spurs playing with many different bands—including a tour with the Flowerpot Men (best known for the song “Let’s Go to San Francisco”). Curtis explained his idea of the Roundabout being a group of three people—Curtis, Lord and a guitarist named Ritchie Blackmore—around which other band members would hop on and off when required. Not much happened. Lord toured. And Blackmore never turned up for a meeting about this “concept band.” That is, until Curtis took way too many drugs, covered the apartment in aluminum foil—reasoning it stopped all the good vibes escaping, and upped and left Lord with rent due, no band, and not much of a future.

That very day, the fabled Ritchie Blackmore turned up at the door to discuss Roundabout with Curtis. Instead, he and Lord discussed forming their own band, which eventually became Deep Purple. The name came from the song “Deep Purple”—a favorite of Blackmore’s aunt. Other possible band names were Concrete God, Orpheus and Zephyr.
 
More after the jump, plus Deep Purple live in New York…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Street art homages to Frank Zappa, Lemmy, David Bowie, Bon Scott, Ian Curtis & more

Frank Zappa street art mural under a bridge in London by James Mayle and Leigh Drummond
A massive mural of Frank Zappa under a bridge in London by artists James Mayle and Leigh Drummond.

I recently came across images of some beautiful street murals of both the sadly recently departed Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie—which is what got me cooking up this post chock full of graffiti and street art homages to notable musicians and rock stars who are no longer with us.

Of the many public pieces, photographed at places all around the globe, I’m especially fond of the Lemmy/Bowie hybrid that popped up on a utility box in front of a restaurant in Denver, Colorado shortly after Bowie passed on January 10th, 2016, as well as a haunting image of Joe Strummer that was painted on the side of a rusted old van.
 
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado
Lemmy/Bowie street art mashup in Denver, Colorado.
 
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol
Joe Strummer mural painted on the side of a van by French artist, Jef Aerosol.
 
Inspired street art dedicated to everyone from Joy Division’s Ian Curtis to James Brown, after the jump…

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Frank Zappa: Shut Up ‘n’ Play yer Bike!
03.29.2016
09:41 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Television

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Steve Allen
bicycle

01fzyellopigtails.jpg
 
Long time ago on British TV there was what I guess you might call a talent show titled Opportunity Knocks. Each week host Hughie Greene offered young hopeful singers, comedians, magicians, variety acts, you know the kinda thing, the opportunity to make it big.

Among those who did make it big were the likes of Mary Hopkins who sang “Those Were the Days” and was quickly signed to The Beatles record label Apple. There were quite a few others who are better known over here than over in the US.

And of the many people who did take part but never made it big, there was always some kind of novelty act—a bodybuilder who flexed his muscles and inflated hot water bottles with his mighty breath; impressionists whose speciality was imitating the sound of railway engines and planes taking-off; belly dancers; bird-handlers who pushed little budgerigars on rope swings then made them hop thru flaming hoops; and last but certainly not least, those hobbyists who made music out of everyday objects such as kettles, washboards, radiators, hoover attachments and alike.
 
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These freaks reminded me of Frank Zappa’s appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1960, when the precocious young musician impressed with his ability to play a bicycle.

At the time, Zappa was earning a living playing cocktail lounges and writing a score for a film called The World’s Greatest Sinner. As he explained to Steve Allen during his appearance he had also written a “bicycle concerto.”

I suppose I have to ask, what kind of twenty-year old goes on national TV to promote himself as a player of the bicycle other than one who is utterly desperate for recognition? Not just any kind of recognition but one that highlights an interest in the avant garde, some serious musical intent and (you guessed it) a zany sense of humor.

That Zappa pulls off all three says much for his talent, ego, and ambition.

Watch the video, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa’s Hollywood Hills rock star home is for sale for $9 million: Take a peek inside
03.08.2016
04:25 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Frank Zappa


 
Wowie Zowie!

It’s the ultimate Frank Zappa fan’s stickiest wet dream. Buy—and live—in the great man’s former five-bedroom, 8000 sq ft home in the Hollywood Hills. The Zappa house is for sale on eBay for $9,000,000. Part of the proceeds of the sale will go towards preserving “The Vault” of Zappa’s immense tape, film and library (kept under the house) and funding the Frank Zappa documentary slated to be directed by Alex Winter later this year.

From the eBay listing:

This is the house in which legendary musician FRANK ZAPPA lived from 1968 until his death in 1993. It has been inhabited by the Zappa family since.

THIS IS FRANK ZAPPA’S
ACTUAL
F*@%ING
HOUSE.

The historic Zappa Estate, nestled on a secluded drive in the Hollywood Hills, is 8,000 square feet of California rockstar paradise. The property includes a rooftop tennis court, backyard swimming pool, guest cottage, beautiful mosaic art amidst the landscaping, and the space that was once the infamous Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, where musicians including Frank have recorded since the 1980s. Beneath the house is a storage chamber that, during the Zappas’ ownership of the home, was known as ‘The Vault,’ where he kept his private archives under lock and key.

The price of this house INCLUDES ALL KICKSTARTER REWARDS listed at whoisfrankzappa.com, as well as an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT on the forthcoming definitive documentary about Frank Zappa’s life by filmmaker Alex Winter. Learn more about Alex Winter’s crowdfunding campaign to make the first-ever fully-authorized, all-access Zappa movie and to save Frank’s private archives. SAVE THE VAULT. TELL THE STORY.

It’s certainly the mother of all Kickstarters now isn’t it?

29 more days to go… I really hope they’re able to sell this home to someone who will respect it.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Classic shots of Grace Jones, Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa & more at the Grammy Awards

Grace Jones and Rick James arrive at the Grammy Awards, 1980
Grace Jones and Rick James at the Grammy Awards, 1983
 
One of my really awful guilty pleasures (I also love the band Rush, but I don’t judge and neither should you), is watching awards shows. I know, I know, they’re stupid, and that my street cred just went out to the dumpster to smoke cigarettes with Milli Vanilli. I’m okay with that.
 
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees at the Grammy Awards, 1968
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees at the Grammy Awards, 1968. The band was up for two awards for “I’m a Believer” (Group Vocal Performance and Contemporary Vocal Group), but lost both times to The Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up and Away.”
 
Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder at the Grammy Awards, 1974
It does not get much cooler than this: Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder at the Grammy Awards, 1974
 
Plenty more classic Grammy moments after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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