Doing a routine search on the Internet I came across with a page about a certain poet & photographer called Louis Cuneo and I asked myself if that could possibly be the same Louie Cuneo heard on Lumpy Gravy and Civilization Phaze III and also mentioned in The Real Frank Zappa Book (p. 96-97). Actually not only I asked myself but I asked him too. Of course he was, and he was nice enough to talk about those Greenwich Village days on the summer of 1967 and the recording session with Roy Estrada & Motorhead at Apostolic Studios. Enjoy. I did! —Román.
You have found Louie the Turkey!
You know, I never dreamed that my short time as a young man at the little theater in Greenwich Village would become what it has. I was just some lost kid from Long Island with a rotten childhood who was looking for answers to life. Frank was on the street at the entrance of the Cafe Ramsey, passing out free tickets to the theater he had just rented for the summer. He gave a handful of tickets to my friends and me and invited us in to see his band play. We had never heard of the Mothers of Invention, but it was free and we were broke.
The theater was empty except for our group of five to seven people. The Mothers played R&B songs, such as My Boyfriend's Back, Sailor Boy, etc. You should have seen them doing those songs—middle age hippies with beards and beer bellys. I hid in the back of the theater, trying to be inconspicuous and laughed my ass off.
Frank had the habit of finding strange people from the audience, (i.e. Lumpy Gravy with Suzy Cream Cheese) and he picked me out and asked me to come up on stage and laugh. I did and continued to do so for the whole summer. I really had fun, but, for some reason, Frank and I never got close as friends. I was just one of the characters he found who entertained the small audience in the theater.
As I passed the summer going daily to the theater, Frank invited me to come over to the studio for a recording session. Initially, we went to his hotel room to pick something up. I expected to see female groupies, drugs and beer, and thought that I would have some fun and sex. What I saw instead were three or four beer cans on the dresser table, two packs of cigs, no women and classical music playing. His worst act of so-called Rock and Roll wildness was smoking cigs, and, in fact, not that many either. He had his drummer and base player with us. We stayed there for a short time and left without any drama happening.
When we arrived at the studio, it was completely empty and silent. Frank quickly went to work with us. He brought us to a piano, requested that we put our heads inside of the open top, then he covered the whole musical instrument with a blanket and asked us to remain silent with our eyes shut. After five minutes we (the drummer, base player I) were told to imagine that we just awakened, not knowing where we were, how we got there or how long we have been there. The drummer spoke first, I believe, about finding himself in that piano without knowing how he got there . . .
For the next three hours Frank taped us talking about whatever came into our heads. I didn't have any idea what he wanted or what he planned to do with the recording session. It was just plain out good fun! The rest is history. Those tapes were used by him in many recordings and ways throughout his career. I'm very pleased to have aided him as he created his great music over the years. The one regret I have is that I never met Frank Zappa again.
So, Roman, that is the story of the famous tapes from the mouth of Louie the Turkey. I hope, you will place the whole story on the web site for all to enjoy. Susie Cream Cheese lives in Berkeley too. The next time I run into her, which is not often, I will ask her to contact you with the hope of adding her Frank Zappa Experience to your website.
Keep smiling and growing. I would love to hear comments about the Turkey's story, along with other peoples' FZ experiences.
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[March 20, 2003]Site maintained by Román García Albertos