The Legendary Frank Zappa was born on this day in 1940

He is one of the most influential musicians of all time with one of the most diverse and vast bodies of work

The Legendary Frank Zappa was born on this day in 1940

Frank Zappa was an artist that you either love or hate, he knew how to cause reactions in people by saying exactly what people weren’t expecting to hear, his non conventional music that never settled into one style only, has influenced several artists over the years, and his on stage antics, solo or with Mothers Of Invention were unique to himself. Zappa was born on December 21st, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. His large body of work, mostly experimental, is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, the prolific Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz and orchestral works among many other styles, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers making him one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era. As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa’s diverse musical influences led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th century classical composers along with 1950’s rhythm and blues and doo-wop music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands; later switching to electric guitar. His now classic 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, “Freak Out!”, combined songs in conventional Rock format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. He continued this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz or classical. His lyrics reflected his iconoclastic views of established social and political processes, structures and movements, often humorously so. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship. Unlike many other rock musicians of his generation, he personally disapproved of and seldom used drugs, but supported their decriminalization and regulation. During the late 1960’s, Zappa continued to develop the business sides of his career. He and Herb Cohen formed the Bizarre Records and Straight Records labels, distributed by Warner Bros. Records, as ventures to aid the funding of projects and to increase creative control. Zappa produced the double album “Trout Mask Replica” for Captain Beefheart, and releases by The Persuasions, Wild Man Fischer, and the GTOs, he also produced Alice Cooper’s first album “Pretties For You” released on the Straight label, Zappa was an early fan and promoter of Alice Cooper’s music and gave the band the opportunity to make a name in the Los Angeles area which led them to become one of the most successful Rock bands of all time. He also collaborated with John Lennon and Yoko Ono between the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, despite the fact that in 1970 he stated the amateurish girl band The Shaggs were better than The Beatles, which caused outrage on the music community back then. During Zappa’s lifetime, he was a highly productive and prolific artist, earning widespread acclaim from critics and fellow musicians. He had some commercial success and worked as an independent artist for most of his career. He remains a major influence on musicians and composers. His honors include an induction in 1995 into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the 1997 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Frank Zappa passed away on December 4th, 1993 at age 52 of prostate cancer.

Watch Frank Zappa performing one of his most popular numbers, “Chunga’s Revenge” live in Paris, 1980

 

Listen to “Frank Zappa – Live Broadcast 24th May 1980 Sportpaleis Van Ahoy” on Spotify

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