Special thanks to Randy Cech, Charles Ulrich and Javier Marcote.
These People Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What it is. Please Do Not Hold it Against Them.
We used to live in the Army housing facility in Edgewood, Maryland. [...] Edgewood, Maryland, was sort of out in the country. It had a little woods and a creek with crawdads in it, just at the end of Dexter Street. I used to play down there with Leonard Allen.
When we lived in Edgewood, Maryland, [...] I had three friends. One was Paddy McGrath, a boy who was crippled and lived up on the hill. I used to go to his house and have contests eating peanut butter sandwiches with him.
I had another friend named Leonard Allen. He was interested in chemistry. I used to go over to his house and we would work on experiments. And it's difficult when you're six years old to find the right things to make gunpowder, but we managed to do it.
I had one another friend, named Paul—I can't remember his last name—who was from Panama. I used to go over to his house and his grandmother would make omelettes with spinach in them.
Bobby ADLER was one of the Mexican boys we used to hang out with in Lancaster. He and another guy, Bobby Hortado introduced us to white port and lemon juice. The drink of choice in those days.
UIm, Germany, August 1978.
It was a bright, sunny day, and fifty-five thousand people, mostly kids, were sitting, standing, and lying down as far as the eye could see. I arrived at the festival grounds in a Mercedes and was taken to my little trailer, where I met Frank Zappa, whom I'd known only from the poster of him sitting on the toilet with his drawers down. We chatted amiably. I went and sat on the trailer step, in the roped-off area, and tried to tune my guitar over the sound of Zappa.
Today was an experiment. I would appear in a rock show, between Zappa and Genesis; I would do forty-five minutes as the sun was setting. Unbeknownst to me, Fritz [Rau] was placing bets with the other promoters backstage, they betting that I'd be booed off stage, he telling them to go fugg zemselves, that I was ze shtarr.
[...] Fritz tried to buoy my confidence.
"Zey vil LOFF you, mein schmetterling," he said. He put his big arms around me, and then held me away and furrowed his brow and peered like a madman into my face. His glasses were lopsided and he had a chunk of German noodle nestling in his beard.
"Yah," he said tenderly, "zees ash-holes hasn't seen nossing yet."
Heart slamming, knees shaking, breath coming much too short, I trekked with Fritz, Jeanne, and Andy across the lawn. Zappa was bounding offstage, exhilarated, following a third encore. The crowd was standing, giddy from an orgy of sound. Deeper into panic I went. I would be alone with my six strings and two vocal chords.
[...] The crowd was busy; still mesmerized by Zappa, they welcomed me with polite applause. I said good afternoon and wasn't it a lovely day for rock and roll. At the words "rock and roll," a cheer came up. At least I could communicate with key words and phrases.
[...] The sound system was the finest in the world. My voice carried across the sea of bodies and seemed to bounce off the sun and echo back. [...]
I sang a few more songs and then closed with "We Shall Overcome." The kids rose to their feet, clasped hands with each other, arms high in the air, and we sang and wept in our own special German sunset service. I bowed and said dankeschon and left the stage to a deafening roar of applause. Fritz was red-eyed and shaking his head. Jeanne's beautiful doe eyes were red-rimmed too, as she took the guitar from me.
[...] I gave seven encores before Fritz finally announced that there would be no more, and everyone must get ready for "Chenesis." We walked back across the field in a daze. Frank congratulated me, and I smiled numbly. It was time for some German sausage and chips.
The next day the papers said that I had stolen the show. I was recognized more than usual at the airport, and the man at security brought out news clips he'd cut out, of the day, the bands, the kids, and the lady with the guitar who had stayed onstage for an hour. I hugged Fritz, brushed some breadcrumbs from his grey V-neck, and boarded the plane.
Mr. William Ballard
Band & Orchestra
At Antelope Valley high School, his music teacher Mr. Ballard allowed him to conduct the orchestra, a job to which he brought a typically experimental approach.
Mr. Ballard also did me a big favor without knowing it. [He] threw me out of the marching band for smoking in uniform—and for that I will be eternally grateful.
A little while after Freak Out was released in 1966, [William] Ballard came to [Ernest Tosi] with a copy of the album. "Hey, we're famous," he exclaimed. They both sat down and listened to the album. "You wipe out that loud stuff," Ballard said, "forget about all that junk and noise." [Tosi] savors the memory: "Frank had that nice background music that he'd write and Bill and I were just listening to the music and the words might have been dirty but I don't even know that I heard a dirty word. Ballard said, 'Now that is beautiful music.'"
After Kay, Frank, now 24, became involved with a woman named Lorraine, 19, who tried to convince anyone who would listen that she was a witch.
Her nickname was Pete.
IB: Why did Frank refer to you as 'Pete' on the Freak Out! sleeve?
LBC: When I first met Frank, I told him my name was Lorre, spelled like Peter Lorre. He never called me Lorre and went on with Pete from then on.
Lorraine Belcher Chamberlain, who in March 1965 was arrested with Zappa at the studio for conspiracy to commit pornography.
Chamberlain, who was 19 at the time of the arrest and now lives in San Francisco, has previously avoided interviews about Zappa. [Adam] Fiorenza was thrilled to capture Chamberlain's rare musings and anecdotes.
According to various accounts, the surprise raid came after a notorious San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department sting at the studio over a racy audiotape.
The pornography charges were dropped soon after, but a chance snapshot would immortalize the moment.
Just after the bust, a photo published in what was then the Ontario Daily Report showed Zappa and Chamberlain smiling, their arms draped around one another.
"If you look at it, it looks like they're posing for the picture and smiling like they're really proud of what just happened," [Derek] Miley said.
In fact, Chamberlain explained, it was just an odd coincidence. After officers had separated the couple to question them, Chamberlain insisted on being reunited with Zappa. Once back together, Zappa apologized so profusely that the two burst into laughter and embraced, she recalled.
At that moment, a news photographer kicked open the door, which turned the couple's attention toward the camera.
"It was totally not their plan to pose for the picture—it just ended up that way," Miley said.
[S. Clay Wilson] is bravely struggling to recover with the help of his lovely and witty partner Lorraine Chamberlain who is a fascinating person and artist in her own right. She was Frank Zappa's longtime live-in partner and subsequent muse from time to time until his death. Hopefully she will publish a book of her memoirs one day since she is such great storyteller. She coined the term Lumpy Gravy as a nickname for Frank in the 60s.
Richard Berry was borrowed from the Flairs to sing bass lead on the Robins first release for Spark Records "Riot In Cell Block #9." While not a national hit it did sell 100,00 copies in Los Angeles and the Bay area.
Marina Bokelman was a guitarist who met FZ in the summer of 1958, when he was attending the Idyllwild School Of Music And The Arts on an art scholarship. They performed together at gatherings at her parents' house.
I bought my first Boulez album when I was in the twelfth grade: a Columbia recording of "Le Marteau Sans Maître" (The Hammer Without a Master) conducted by Robert Craft, with "Zeitmasse" (Time-mass) by Stockhausen on the other side.
Within a year or so of that, I managed to get hold of a score. I listened to the record while following the score, and I noticed that the performance was not very accurate. I later acquired a recording of "Le Marteau" on the Turnabout label, with Boulez conducting, and was surprised to find that he took the first movement much more slowly than the tempo marked in the score. I razzed him about it when we met.
Pierre Boulez conducts his own composition: "Le Marteau Sans Maître." I don't know what label that's on, but it's the one with Boulez conducting. The one by Robert Craft has too many mistakes.
[FZ] was the only person she didn't recognize at a concert including a piece by Varèse.
When she was a music student at Pomona College [circa 1959], she attended concerts and other events with FZ.
Later, she was a member of the Creative Associates at SUNY Buffalo (19641966), along with composer Mauricio Kagel (who also appears on the Freak Out! list), percussionist John Bergamo (who played on Zappa In New York), and bassist Buell Neidlinger (who played on JLP's King Kong). She taught at SUNY Buffalo 1970-2000.
After graduating from Pomona in 1959, she hung around Claremont for the summer, then went to Paris. She started her career in Europe. She corresponded with FZ for a while, but never saw him again.
[We went] around the Southland in search of the latest music, even to such academic bastions as USC for ISCM concerts where talented young composers had their pieces played. I remember that David Del Tredici played one of his works at a USC concert.
Karl [Kohn] said that Sylvia asked him if he'd let FZ audit his class. But he also mentioned FZ's wife doing most of the talking when FZ came to ask for permission. This doesn't jibe: by the time FZ & Kay were married, Sylvia had been in Europe for a year.
Sylvia says she met FZ at a concert including a piece by Varèse. (He was dressed all in black, and the only person there she didn't already know.) She doesn't remember mentioning FZ to Karl or anyone else in the music department.
My best guess is that FZ hung out with Sylvia in 1959, she recommended that he audit Karl's course, and he did so a year or two later. FZ certainly would have mentioned her name when introducing himself to Karl, but she may not have actually introduced them.
The Law Club is a tightly knit group of students who gather chiefly for the purpose of discussing legal procedure, and attending legal functions. The club and its functions are open to all those Pre-Law students and other interested students who want to explore the world of law. Among the topics which arise at the meetings and outing of the Law Club, are philosophical questions dealing with ethics, moralities, and parliamentary procedure.
First row, left to right: Tom McCurry, Gene Bobeng, Joe Nogueira, John Daly. Second row: Duane Balentine, John Tarter, Jerry Fasching, Dr. Brossman.
I had seen Lenny Bruce a number of times at Canter's Deli, where he used to sit in a front booth with Phil Spector and eat knockwurst. I didn't really talk with him until we opened for him at the Fillmore West in 1966. I met him in the lobby between sets and asked him to sign my draft card. He said no—he didn't want to touch it.
He was a friend of mine, and of our manager. Lenny was a saint. What the Big Machine of America did to Lenny Bruce was pretty disgusting. It ranks with civil rights as one of the big pimples on the face of American culture. But nobody will ever really find out about it, I guess.
On December 23, 2003, 37 years after his death, New York Governor George Pataki granted Bruce a posthumous pardon for his obscenity conviction.
I met Paul when he had a studio in Cucamonga, California. The equipment was very basic, most of it was homemade. He had learned his electronic skills in the Marine Corps and he came out here to decide if he wanted to go into the record business. He taught himself how to play sax, piano, bass, guitar and drums. He also taught himself how to sing, and built the studio so he could record himself, or any of the local bands who were in town at that time. He only charged about $30 per hour. Two surfin' hits, "Pipeline" and "[Wipe Out]," were recorded there and the master was leased to either Dot or to another record company.
Most of my basic training in recording came from working with Paul. I started playing on some of the demos that he was cutting there at the studio and got interested in the equipment. When we would have dinner at the bowling alley we used to eat at, he would draw diagrams on the napkins of how the equalizer worked. He gave me a lot of basic information on how things work and even in 1963 he was working on developing some of the inventions which are on the market today, through Allison Research. I think not too long after 1963 he built the prototype of the Gain Brain, and the first Fuzz Tone that I ever saw, by overdriving a phonograph pre-amp. He built his own equalizers for his little console that we had there at Cucamonga. He also built a five-track tape recorder with staggered heads because they didn't have inline heads. The record head was also the playback head and the machine had its own erase head and we used half-inch tape.
The other equipment in the studio consisted of about five or six Shure microphones, and a homemade condenser mic. We had two pianos, a Steinway upright and some type of Baby Grand. I can't remember the monitor system in the control room but I gathered there were a few Hi-Fi speakers from the boxes I saw. It was basic and good enough for rock and roll. We could overdub on that machine and could ping-pong on it. Allison, the girl whose picture is on the Kepex, used to be the waitress at Cucamonga [Maltshop]. Paul met her and fell in love and they moved into a trailer together. He produced a bunch of records where Allison sings. She is a very good singer and has a nice voice so she did a lot of recording out there at Cucamonga, but I don't know if she has recorded since then.
I think Paul is definitely one of the pioneers of the modern multi-track recording industry. He's a genius.
I used to work in a little club called the Village Inn and Barbecue. I used to play there on weekends with a band. The club was owned by a woman named Thelma. And Thelma was married to a guitarist that used to work with some jazz bands during the thirties and forties named Teddy Bunn. Maybe you know him. So Teddy used to hang out and sit on the side and wait to sit in with the group. We were playing songs like "High Heel Sneakers" and "Steal Away" and "Midnight Hour." But when we would stop for a minute, Teddy would come over and play jazz on the guitar. Of course this was a marvelous opportunity for me to get something to eat.
Teddy was an old gentleman. He was a string man, blew some heavy jazz. He used to play with Duke Ellington. That's what I was told. [...] I think he passed away in '87.
Raised a Catholic, dumped it. Set fire to the high school in San Diego. Got turned on to Zen by my English teacher.
[c. June, 1968] Don Cerveris [came later]. Don, Frank's English teacher in high school, had made a film called Run Home Slow. Frank, at just twenty-two years of age, had written and recorded the score. Despite the film being labelled "the worst western ever made," their friendship had survived and they whiled away almost three hours, an unusually long time for Frank to stop work.
It was apparent we weren't moving very fast toward fame and fortune. We decided to get a manager, and what do you do when you decide that? You get a person who is a friend and who is older. We got Mark Cheka, who found out after a while he needed help and he had a friend named Herb Cohen. Mark got us a gig playing a party for the guy who shot Mondo Hollywood and Herb was there. Herb didn't know what we were doing especially, but he thought we had . . . commercial potential.
While I was living in the bungalow [at 1819 Bellevue Avenue] I ran into Don Cerveris again. On that occasion, Don introduced me to a friend of his named Mark Cheka, a 'pop artist' from New York's East Village. Mark was about fifty and wore a beret. He was living in West Hollywood with a waitress from the Ash Grove named Stephanie, who was also sort of beatnik-looking.
[...] I had come to the conclusion that the band needed a manager. [...] So, I convinced Mark to take the mysterious voyage out to Pomona (fifty miles east), where he might listen to the Mothers, live, at the Broadside. [...] I told him that if he wanted to manage the group and could get us some gigs to go ahead.
We were introduced to Mark Cheka around the Fall of '65. Mark was a Pop artist aged about 50. He was a real cool guy, he was involved in the new freak scene that was heppening and he's the one who introduced us to the guys at the L.A. Free Press. [...] So all of a sudden we were going to have a manager. Things started popping with that guy—well at least a little bit. Although he didn't know shit about managing a band, he liked our music. I liked Mark—I thought he was a nice guy. He didn't really get us any work, we were still playing around those go-go joints but he introduced us to Herb Cohen who did.
From then on, I think Frank started hanging out in Hollywood and that area. He met this other guy—I forget his name [...] he was actually an artist—he was the guy who turned us on to this part we had in the movie called Mondo Hollywood. What it was, we were a band playing at a party in the movie. We were at a discotheque playing at a party. That is where we met Carl Franzoni and all these freaks. There was free-dancing. That was also where we met Herb Cohen. I don't know why he was there. His eyes opened up and that's where he snatched us, right there.
Robert Craft is not always an excellent conductor, and his performances are not always absolutely accurate, but they probably didn't give him a very good budget because it was modern music, and they wanted to get the job over with, and he was probably under pressure, so don't mind the mistakes that are on there if you're following it with a score.
1 June The first night at Ciro's
When Kaye and I got to Ciro's, and told the doorman that we were guests of Michael Clarke, we had to wait while the doorman went and got Michael to confirm. When Michael came out, he brought us in himself. Michael got a table right at the edge of the dance floor and close to the stage for Kaye and I. Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone was playing. Ever since, to this day, when I hear that song, I can sharply recall being in Ciro's. There were all the people, certain perfumes, the atmosphere of excited anticipation, and more. I remember seeing Sonny and Cher and all these other top singers/bands of the time, there was a little kid outside who asked me to go back in and get James Brown's autograph for him which I did. I met Vito, Carl, Beatle Bob and his girlfriend that night too. I think Michael introduced some of them to me, and Carl had introduced himself.
I found out that there is a "George De Carl Band/Orchestra" in LA times in 1958 [and] 1954.
Batoner George De Carl rounds out his first year at Chuck Landis' Club Largo.
Randy DeWeese was my friend first and later he became friends with Frank. Randy and I were the same age and his father built the first bowling alley in Lancaster where we used to hang out and bowl.
One kid Frank and I spent a lot of time with was Randy DeWeese. Randy's father built a bowling alley in Lancaster and we spent many happy hours there bowling for free and hanging out having fun.
Although Randy was my age he and Frank got along well. We also got to know Randy's father and he was the first adult we'd ever met who owned a business. We were impressed.
At least locally, a real demand is developing for [Frank] Zappa's collection of abstract paintings. Mrs. Clifford De Wees of the new Sands Bowl said she is hopeful of hanging a group of them in the new Bowling establishment and Mrs. Jones, who arranges monthly exhibits in the Woman's club, has also expressed the desire to display the Zappa collection.
Frank was three years advanced from me. My connection to him at that time was his brother Bobby. That's how I met Frank, Bobby was in the same grade as I, along with Randy DuWeiss, whose father owned the Bowling Alley out on Sierra Highway [...]. Also Bobby Atler, we used to call him "Wetback."
Elliot Ingber told me that Skip Diamond was a friend of his. He worked at some club. I asked if it was The Broadside, but Elliot didn't think so. They had gone to school together (at Fairfax High School), but he didn't really know him there. Elliot didn't know why FZ acknowledged him on Freak Out!
According to the AMG and Discogs, Skip Diamond is credited on two records:
Barry Goldberg, There's No Hole In My Soul—vibraphone
Canned Heat, Hallelujah—backing vocals
However, the actual credit on the Barry Goldberg album is for "good vibes"! I listened to the album a few times and didn't notice any vibrophone on it. So there's no reason to believe Skip Diamond was a percussionist who played the vibraphone.
As for the Canned Heat album, Skip Diamond and Elliot Ingber are credited for two specific songs. The backing vocals on "Same All Over" are a simple call and response of the title phrase. And "Down In The Gutter" doesn't seem to have any backing vocals to speak of—just some exhortations from the crowd. Thus, we don't have any evidence that Skip Diamond was a professional singer any more than a vibraphonist.
DR: What particularly did you like by Dolphy?
FZ: An album called Blues and the Abstract Truth.
DR: Oliver Nelson['s album with Eric Dolphy in it] . . . [...]
FZ: You heard the album, Iron Man?
FZ: That's the other one I like.
I have one LP and another that was stolen, but I only have one left.
Don & Dewey really worked hard to put their act together. They played a lot at El Monte Legion stadium, thrilling the audience with their zany antics. One of them would play an electric violin and double on guitar and the other one would play organ and sometimes bass, and they had this special type of vocal harmony which was very individualistic. They had these gala costumes which were sort of day-glo rayon with bolero balls hanging all over their chest, and phenomenally huge processed pompadours going up about two-and-a-half feet from the top of their heads, and they really had it together. Then The Righteous Brothers came along and borrowed their whole number and, because they were white, become very rich. Meanwhile, Don & Dewey don't function anymore.
Bob Dylan is the only guy who really feels what he is saying, Barry McGuire is a phony—he doesn't mean what he says.
Radio caller: I'd like to know Frank's opinion of Bob Dylan.
FZ: I think he is very nice. [...] I don't feel that I'm a competent musical critic. My job is manufacturing a type of musical product which will convey a type of social political aesthetic message that people of any age, of any mentality can understand. Dylan is a poet and he writes his songs using images, which some of them are very beautiful, but they're also very abstract and they are not as easy to asimilate as some of our really blatant hokum that we put on our records. You know, where some people would whisper that secret message of whatever it is to you, we're out there screaming it. We're crudder, that's all.
What do you think of Bob Dylan?
Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" was a monster record. I heard that thing and I was jumping all over the car. And then when I heard the one after that, "Like A Rolling Stone," I wanted to quit the music business because I felt if this wins and it does what it's supposed to do, I don't need to do anything. It sold, but nobody responded to it the way that they should have. They should have listened to that and said, "Hey, that record got on the radio. Now wait a minute, we've got a chance to say something, you know? The radio is for us to use as a weapon." It didn't happen right away, and I was a little disappointed. I figured, well shit, maybe it needs a little reinforcing.
I liked the lyrics to ["Like A Rolling Stone"] because I felt that they were fairly direct, and I was encouraged by the fact that lyrics like that were on AM radio—and also by the fact that it was a long selection for AM radio. I said if this is on—if it's popular and if it's selling, then it's setting an important trend. But, I didn't see it fulfilled in the way I'd hoped.
"I'd like to see the '60s happening again," says Rodney Bingenheimer, a local disc jockey who's called the Mayor of the Sunset Strip. He was around in the days when you might see Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the Fred C. Dobbs coffeehouse, now the office of Kay McGraw Realty.
At Ciro's, which became a rock club called It's Boss for a brief time before ultimately becoming the Comedy Store, there was a night when Dylan joined the Byrds for a jam session. Bingenheimer can remember him playing "Mr. Tambourine Man" on the harmonica, which is a different memory of Ciro's than most people have.
Hanging around Capitol Records, Frank remembers being in the studio while producer Jim Economides was mixing a couple of early Beach Boys tracks—"Surfer Girl" and "Little Deuce Coupe"—as well as Dick Dale's "Secret Surfer Spot," all in the same session. Interestingly enough, Zappa is positive that Brian Wilson wasn't present—and Economides spent most of his time trying on new Italian sports coats, sent up from a nearby men's outfitters.
Winner of the state wide art competition sponsored jointly by the California Federation of Women's clubs and the Hallmark Greeting Card company is Frank Zappa of Lancaster, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Zappa, 45438 Third St. East.
Young Zappa was the honored guest Saturday at a tea in the Jack Carr galleries in South Pasadena where he was presented with the award for his painting. An abstract, it is entitled "Family Room." Theme of the statewide contest was "Symphony of Living." he was accompanied to the tea by Miss Shirley Eilers and his parents.
[...] Currently, he is in Shirley Eilers' class at the Lancaster high school.
I didn't hate [The Beatles]. I actually like two or three of their songs. I just thought they were ridiculous. What was so disgusting was the way they were consumed and merchandised. No music has succeeded in America unless it was accompanied by something to wear, something to dance or a hairdo. A phenomenon is not going to occur unless you can dress up to it.
In 1956, a young cartoonist named Jules Feiffer started publishing a nine-panel cartoon in the Village Voice, a new alternative weekly in Manhattan. The strip was like a bomb thrown into the world of dating angst and the perpetual conflict between men and women, and it quickly took off. It was published nationally in 100 newspapers, including The Star-Ledger. In his original cartoons, Feiffer attacked the U.S. government on nuclear testing and was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War when most Americans didn’t know where Vietnam was. [...]
[Jules Feiffer:] I saw myself as a radical and I saw my responsibility in expressing a radical point of view, but not from any organizational point of view. There was no organization that I identified myself with for more than 15 minutes.
On April 1, 1964, four New York City vice squad officers attended [Lenny] Bruce's performance at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. The officers arrested Bruce and owner Howard Solomon following Bruce's 10:00 P.M. show. [...] The trial before a three-judge court in New York City that followed stands as a remarkable moment in the history of free speech. Both the prosecution and defense presented parades of well-known witnesses to either denounce Bruce's performance as the worst sort of gutter humor or celebrate it as a powerful and insightful social commentary. Among the witnesses testifying in support of Bruce were What's My Line? panelist Dorothy Kilgallen, sociologist Herbert Gans, and cartoonist Jules Feiffer. In the end, the censors won. Voting 2 to 1, the court found Bruce guilty of violating New York's obscenity laws and sentenced him to "four months in the workhouse."
When I was in high school, in Lancaster, I formed my first band, the Black-Outs. [...] This was the only R&B band in the entire Mojave Desert at that time. Three of the guys (Johnny Franklin, Carter Franklin and Wayne Lyles) were black, the Salazar brothers were Mexican and Terry Wimberly represented the other oppressed peoples of the earth.
ALOIS HABA (born 21.6.1893 in Vizovice, died 18. ll. 1973 in Prague), Czech composer, music theoretician, teacher and organiser, is one of the creators of new tonal systems on the basis of intervals of less than a half-tone (quarter-tone, fifth-tone and sixth-tone). Haba introduced these microtonal systems into music both practically and theoretically, tying up independently with the first tentative compositional and theoretical quarter-tone attempts of Stein, Moellendorf and Mager. Haba is so far the only composer to have written microtonal compositions on a melodic-harmonic base, in all forms of modern music and for the most varied instrumental and vocal content. For this he used on the one hand traditional instruments, but he also proposed new instruments—quarter-tone pianos, the quarter-tone harmonium, quarter-tone clarinets, quarter-tone trumpets, the sixth-tone harmonium, which were manufactured by Czech and German firms of instrument-makers.
I wasn't allowed to listen to "nigger music" [...] by my dad. (Quoting) "I don't want you listening to no nigger music." Well, let me tell you something, this "nigger music" as he put it, was blues. Man that just fucking grabbed me by the stomach and I was just out of this room. Hunter Hancock used to play that stuff every afternoon and I'd just "dial him in there" you know. I started listening to that and 'hoo boy', it set me off. [...] I was still in grade school. We're talking 1950 maybe. Fifty, fifty-one. We had one of those old radios that would squawk when you dialed it in.
[Richie Hayward] was [at The Factory's Shrine Exposition Hall, September 17, 1966 concert] with a girl, Animal Huxley was her name—a relative of Aldous Huxley. Animal brought him to the concert, it was a Mothers concert—a Freak Out. So Richie joined that original band with the guys who were in the Fraternity Of Man.
Sometimes, when the weather was right, you could pick up Wolfman Jack out of Texas. I wasn't that wild about what he played, because it really seemed like people were just getting money to play things on the air. In fact, one night I heard him say, "If you want me to make your record a hit, you just send $25 to the Wolfman, and I'll play your record."
Possibly Joyce [Holly] Shannon, FZ's music teacher at Chaffey College in 1960.
Back home again, Frank enrolled at [Chaffey] Junior College in Alta Loma, California, where he picked up another harmony course, taught by a Miss [Joyce] Holly, which included required keyboard practice.
Joyce Shannon was head of the Music Department at Chaffey and remembered Frank clearly: "He was a very exceptional music student, extremely bright. He had read the text I used on his own, which was amazing to me because it wasn't an easy book to read, and he was contemptuous of a lot of academia. He went out of his way to study both books and musical scores." [Society Pages, 10]
Another of his instructors, Joyce Shannon, the head of the music department, remembered that Zappa never seemed to have any money at the time. She would often give him a ride home to Claremont because she lived nearby. She told Society Pages: "He was a very exceptional music student, extremely bright. He had read the text I used on his own, which was amazing to me, because it wasn't an easy book to read and he was contemptuous of a lot of academia. He went out of his way to study both books and musical scores." Shannon also got a name-check on Freak Out!.
The Buff Organization's "Happy Birthday Joyce" was devoted to Allison's friend Joyce Favrow, whose money bailed Frank Zappa out of jail in March 1965!
I'd say Joyce Favrow is more likely than Joyce Shannon. Especially since the other teachers on the list are credited by (at least) their last name [...]. Also, Joyce is listed with a couple of other first-named women, not with any of the teachers.
FZ: I'm not so impressed by Kagel's electronic music as I was by this lecture he gave at a college in California, where he played a tape of a piece called Anagrama. Have you ever heard it?
FZ: I don't think it's released. I got the score to it. It's fantastic. It's for chorus and percussion, there's a harp in there and a few other things. I'm surprised they never put that out. But the orchestration was unbelievable. For instance, in the percussion section there are two giant rolls of paper that these guys have to rip up on cue. And it's really notated out exactly. They have sheets of tin foil that they play and it really sounds good. And the chorus is singing phonetic texts—it's probably the basis of "It Can't Happen Here," and things like that.
Finally, the day of the first [Freak Out!] session rolled around—about three in the afternoon at a place called TTG Recorders, Sunset Boulevard at Highland Avenue.
The MGM Records accounting representative was a stingy old guy named Jesse Kaye. Jesse walked around with his hands behind his back, pacing the floor while we were recording, making sure nobody ran up any extra overtime costs by going beyond the three hours allotted for each session.
During a break, I went into the control booth and told him: "Look, Jesse, we got a little problem here. We would like to stay on schedule. We would like to get this all done in the three hours—these glorious three hours that you've given us to make this record—but we don't have any money and we're all hungry. Could you lend me ten bucks?"
There was a drive-in restaurant downstairs from the studio, and I figured ten 1965 dollars would be enough to feed the whole band and get us through the session. Well, Jesse's reputation was such that, if anybody had seen him lending money to a musician, he would have been ruined. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. I walked away, figuring that was it—I wasn't going to ask him anymore. I went back into the studio and prepared for the next take. Jesse walked in. He had his hands behind his back. He came over, casually, and pretended to shake hands with me. There was a ten-dollar bill rolled up in his palm. He tried to pass it to me, except I didn't realize what was going on, and the money fell on the floor. He made a face like "Oh, shit!" and grabbed it up real fast, hoping nobody had seen it, and stuffed it into my hand. Without this act of kindness from Jesse, there might not have been a Freak Out! album.
In early 2005, [Adam Fiorenza and Derek Miley] managed to find Karl Kohn, a retired composition professor from Pomona College who taught Zappa.
Kohn, who was born in Vienna in 1926, described Zappa's demeanor as a student as much different from the persona he adopted as a famous musician.
"He was not outgoing, not the long-haired hippie-looking guy," Fiorenza said of Kohn's recollection of Zappa. "He was more low-key and shy. His compositions were good, and they were turned in on time. He was very meticulous."
Actually, FZ didn't even attend the whole course. The story I heard (not from Kohn but from a Pomona College English professor) was that Kohn threw him out after a disagreement about Webern.
Karl Kohn has told me that he did not throw FZ out of his class. Rather, FZ came to him and told him that he would no longer be able to attend the class, as he was moving away.
In 1955 Art made his debut in Los Angeles as a deejay for radio station KXLA, although Hunter Hancock had been in Los Angeles playing rhythm and blues for some time, Laboe was the first to play Rock N' Roll. In 1950 Laboe started doing his shows from Scrivner's Drive-In Restaurant chain (then only numbering three). As the chain grew so did Art's audience [...].
His popularity prompted concert promoter [Hal Zeiger] and bandleader Johnny Otis to hire him to emcee their live shows. At his first show held at the Shrine Auditorium some time in 1957 Art received such a favorable response that he became a regular, hosting shows at the Orpheum, United Artist and paramount Theaters. During this period Art also started to emcee dances on the outskirts of Los Angeles' city limits. Dances for teens held within the Los Angeles City limits required a permit from the school board and Art wanted his dances for all ages so he used dance halls in neighboring cities. Although dances were held in Anaheim, Long Beach and San Bernardino it was El Monte, which eventually became his headquarters. Laboe rotated his schedule weekly with El Monte Legions Stadium getting a show every other week.
Bob Dylan is the only guy who really feels what he is saying, Barry McGuire is a phony—he doesn't mean what he says.
MUSICIAN: Did you see many live rock and roll shows when you were in high school in Southern California?
ZAPPA: I saw Big Jay McNeely, and I saw the Gaylarks.
Zappa has immortalized in books, interviews and on album covers the names of Antelope Valley High School faculty members Ernest Tosi, Jerry Murnane, William Ballard, Don Cerveris and [...] Amy Heydorn.
Mr. Jerry Murnane
Coach Jerry Murnane
The big-time disc jockeys were Dick Hugg, who was called Huggie Boy, Art Laboe, Johnny Otis and Hunter Hancock. My favorite was Johnny Otis because he had the best taste in the records that were played.
I talked to Johnny Otis when I was in high school. I went down and saw his studio on a field trip one day with a few of the guys from the Blackouts—I think it was on Washington Boulevard, DIG records, I saw his echo chamber, which was a cement room and he was into overdubbing and a lot of that stuff even in the early days and he gave us a bunch of records and talked about the business. I've always liked the things that he's done, especially when he was on Peacock. And I dig him as a disk jockey because I liked the records that he played. I thought that he had pretty good taste for rhythm and blues.
My band played strictly rhythm & blues music. We didn't know any rock & roll songs. In fact, everybody in the band hated rock & roll. Rock & roll was that horrible Elvis Presley kind of hillbilly music. I liked Howlin' Wolf and Jimmy Reed and that kind of stuff. [...] We didn't even have a microphone. It was all just instrumental boogie music.
Ah, poor thing. I feel sorry for him, you know. First of all, without the assistance of Leiber & Stoller I don't think we would have had an Elvis Presley. Without anyone to write the songs that he was singing. And without the black artists who pioneered those songs—like his biggest hit, "Hound Dog"—he wasn't the first person to record that. It was done by Willie Mae Thornton on the Peacock label, 'cause I had her recording of it long before Presley put it out. And, when I was going to high school he was a big star, everybody loved him, and I couldn't stand him. And when he finally turned into this drug infested blimp and OD'ed it was just tragic.
The only record of Elvis I ever liked was "Baby Let's Play House." I was fantastically offended when he did "Hound Dog" in '56, because I had the original record by Willie Mae Thornton and I said, "How could anybody do that?" Anybody who bought that Elvis record was missing out because they'd obviously never even heard Willie Mae Thornton's.
[...] There was no appeal there. And the people that I was hanging out with, the mere mention of Elvis' name would bring about peels of laughter—because he wasn't doing anything: it just wasn't real.
Of Elvis Presley, Zappa told the Los Angeles Times Magazine, "I thought, 'Who is this white guy trying to make all this fake black music here?' I was one of the few people at that time who knew that 'Hound Dog' was originally recorded by Willie Mae Thornton on the Peacock label."
In my days of flaming youth I was extremely suspect of any rock music played by white people. The sincerity and emotional intensity of their performances, when they sang about boy friends and girl friends and breaking up, etc., was nowhere when I compared it to my high school Negro R&B heroes like Johnny Otis, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Mae Thornton. [...]
I'm sure the kids never really believed all the Beatles wanted to do was hold your hand. And the girls were provided with "kissable closeups" (enlarged views of their idols' lips, teeth and gums) which they could kiss, touch, rub and/or hang on the bedroom wall. Girls forgot Elvis Presley. He was too greasy, too heavy business: sullen pouting and all that stuff. The Beatles were huggable & cute & moptops & happy & positive. Beatlemania was fun to be involved in.
The underground gets a lot of press coverage today; it didn't get much at all in the '50s. Elvis Presley was the most widely known figure, and, in my group, he was liked mostly by the girls and younger guys. But in San Diego, which is a good town for blues, a lot of the boys liked Howlin' Wolf and B. B. King better. Their music was stronger and the kids responded to it. [...]
Looking at the main attraction of that time, Elvis Presley, and the superstars of now, the Beatles, some interesting changes seem to have taken place in terms of how an audience chooses its idol. I think Ralph Gleason is right when he calls the Beatles an ideal projection of the audience's personalities, and Presley a strictly sexual phenomenon. Presley, when he first hit, did not have a new image. He already existed in the masses and was easy to identify with. But the Beatles created a wholly new image that was foreign, no pun, to America. Presley's impact, the way he moved and sang, was so sexual that he was too much of a threat to the teenyboppers of those days, and eventually had to sing songs that reversed the sexual roles, making him the passive in such tunes as "Love Me Tender" or "Any Way You Want Me to Be." So along come the Beatles, who look so cute and harmless that they are allowed to sing dominant songs. Their sexual innuendo was verbal and subtle and they got away with it.
PROPOSAL FOR A WORLD CUP FOOTBALL OPERA
Other characters include: Galileo, Tesla, Newton, da Vinci, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and Elvis Presley as THE DEVIL.
Among the many names listed on the Freak Out LP cover is legendary deejay B. Mitchel Reed (BMR) who played Status Back Baby on 980 KFWB-AM 980 Hollywood, California during summer of 1967 when KFWB was a Top 40 AM Radio Station (B. Mitchel Reed played album cuts there and was a founding father of FM Rock Underground Radio at KPPC-FM 106.7 Pasadena, California late 1967 then starting Underground Radio at KMET-FM 94.7 Los Angeles in June 1968)
First Semester Sophomore Class officers are from left to right: Marcia Kloster, Nadine Reyes, Perry Pulos, Barbara Ballard, and Mary Donlin.
Informant: Javier Marcote
DR: What do you like by Schoenberg?
FZ: There's this Septet for Baritone voice, mandolin, guitar, clarinet, cello, violin. I like the Orchestra Pieces, the ones with "Summer Morning by a Lake"
DR: Oh yeah, Opus 16. 5 Pieces for Orchestra.
[Alex Snouffer, Sandra Schwanekamp]
Sandy Schwanekamp was one of Frank's earliest girl friends in Lancaster and I seem to recall that her parents didn't like Frank and that at some point they either moved or took her out of AVJUHS and put her into private school.
Frank had a blonde girlfriend named Sandy, at the time, and Dad didn't like her. That was clear, with no imagination necessary. I never could tell the reason. Probably just an Italian father thing.
When Sandy came over, she and Frank would disappear into his bedroom.
According to Jo Jetson, on Moon Unit's Facebook page: "I knew your dad when he and I were at Antelope Valley School in Lancaster. I was best friends with Sandy Schwanekamp, his girlfriend at the time, & I was dating Terry Wimberley."
I think my playing is probably more derived from the folk music records that I heard; middle eastern music, Indian music, stuff like that. For years I had something called 'Music On The Desert Road', which was an album with all kinds of different ethnic music from the Middle East. I used to listen to that all the time—I liked that kind of melodic feel. I listened to Indian music, Ravi Shankar and so forth, before we did the 'Freak Out!' album. The idea of creating melody from scratch based on an ostinato or single chord that doesn't change—that was the world that I felt most comfortable with. If you listen to Indian classical music, it's not just pentatonic. Some of the ragas that they use are very chromatic, all sustained over a root and a fifth that doesn't change, and by using these chromatic scales they can imply all these other kinds of harmonies. The chords don't change; it's just the listener's aspect that gets to change, based on how the melody notes are driven against the ground bass.
It was there, at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, where the residents celebrated seasonally with their own Orange Fair, that we all stared the future straight in the eye. We were headed to a showcase of stereophonica, a strange place where art and science converged and intersected. [...] A billowy tent had been erected inside an exhibition hall and an immense, overlarge wooden speaker was suspended down from the ceiling. Stereophonica replete with woofers, subwoofers, and crossovers and tweeters, and cones, oh my, and exotic music from other countries was being broadcast to the people seated in the folding chairs. [...] The music I heard that day was my first introduction to Ravi Shankar, but it was the drums I listened to the most, as I'd never heard hand drumming before, or not like that, (aside from the relatively sharp sound of bongos.)
There was a small table off to one side of the foyer that offered a small selection of connoisseur records on audiophile labels sporting exotic names like World Pacific and HiFi (short for "High Fidelity", then considered the epitome of audio experience). [...] Frank got a couple of records, too, a real extravagance on his part (truthfully, it was a real extravagance on everyone's part—this was when gasoline was less than twenty-five cents a gallon, remember—and my family members were most reluctant to part with even a loan). So he bought two records, but I can't remember what they were [*].
This is about the time [fall of 1965] that Frank started listening to Ravi Shankar and Raga music. He made the whole band listen to it. We asked why and he said, "Because we're going to start doing some stuff like this!"
[*] One of the probable albums FZ bought that day is India's Master Musician (LP, World Pacific 1422, 1963), by Ravi Shankar, sitar, accompanied by Chatur Lal, tabla, and N. C. Mullick, tamboura, both of them also on the Freak Out! list.
Guitar Slim [...] was the first guitar player that I ever heard that had distortion—even during the 50s. In a strange way I think I probably derive more of my style from his approach to the guitar from the solos that I heard then.
I'm probably stylistically closer to Guitar Slim than anybody else. But since nobody knows what he did . . . [laughter]. There's a couple of solos he played that I thought were landmarks—but they were very obscure.
Probably I'm more directly descended from Guitar Slim than anybody, because he was the first guitar player that I ever heard that had a distorted sound, because during the '50s when I started playing the guitar most of the guitar solos were short and not really fuzzy. But Guitar Slim, uhm— There's a couple of records by him where he was really playing some trash. And he jsut had that trashy style that I enjoyed.
If you were stuck alone on a desert island, name the three things you would most want to have with you?
(l) A dozen assorted groupies.
(2) The complete writings of Cordwainer Smith.
(3) A carton of cigarettes.
[FZ] was not favorably disposed to reading—I read random things to him—he was a good listener. However, 2 authors that he was certainly interested in WHEN I met him were Franz Kafka (re: In The Penal Colony—If you have not yet read it, do so and follow the instructions before you listen to The Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny on We're Only In It For The Money) and Cordwainer Smith.
Any girl is all right as long as she doesn't have hair like Bob Dylan, or maybe she could even have that if she knows how to ride a motorcycle. I might even like her better if she can play Stockhausen on the piano—Klavierstück XII.
There's a record by Karlheinz Stockhausen on the Deutsche Gramophon label called "Gesang der Jünglinge", it's the "Song Of The Youths"; "Kontakte" ("Contact") is on the other side. Buy that (DGG 138811).
Stockhausen isn't really an influence. That is, I have some of his records but I don't play them much. [John] Cage is a big influence.
Some of his early pieces I thought were interesting. But once he got his PR going, I think that he stopped dealing with the real questions of what music is all about and got into the syndrome that most contemporary composers get themselves into, which is: ' . . . nobody wants a composer working at a university who can write a melody or actually a set of chord changes or even a rhythm that you can comprehend, so I have to write this ugly music so I can keep my job.' . . . it's a game of writing unintelligible swill. And as long as nobody can understand it, it's very easy for them to cover up the fact that it is not musical.
I'm still quite fond of Boulez's music, but not so much so of Stockhausen's stuff.
Also, buy everything that you can by Igor Stravinsky and dance to it—especially "L'Histoire Du Soldat", which means "Soldier's Tale", and the "Agon" ballet, which is a beautiful thing.
If you want to learn how to play guitar, listen to Wes Montgomery. You also should go out and see if you can get a record by Cecil Taylor if you want to learn how to play the piano.
In my days of flaming youth I was extremely suspect of any rock music played by white people. The sincerity and emotional intensity of their performances, when they sang about boy friends and girl friends and breaking up, etc., was nowhere when I compared it to my high school Negro R&B heroes like Johnny Otis, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Mae Thornton.
Mr. Ernest Tosi
Ernie Tossi [Tosi] first met Frank [Zappa] in the fall of 1956 when Frank came in from San Diego. [...] "Frank was the forerunner of student militancy and a forerunner of the beatniks because he was wearing sideburns and a mustache. [...] Frank was an independent thinker who couldn't accept the Establishment's set of rules. [...]
"I had an occasion because of some irregular behavior. I jerked him out of an assembly; he was ready to put on a show. (If he can say what he thinks I can say what I think.) Frank was discourteous to a teacher before an assembly . . . and I had to put him on a vacation for a day or two—I don't like to use the word 'suspended.' That's where the father got into the act on Frank's behalf—I'll use the word 'behalf'—a very interesting session."
[...] Frank and Ernie used to see each other a lot. "He and I would sit for hours in my office, sometime after school, a few times until five o'clock. I can recall one time, and it's not so much discipline, it's trying to win him over, saying, 'Hey you're here, you got to follow the rules,' and he would sit and talk." One night after school Mr. [Tosi] drove Frank home and Frank invited him inside. "Gee whiz," Ernie recalls, "that didn't seem like Frank. 'Come in and meet my folks' and we had a nice visit."
Jerry Ullberg was an English teacher at AVJUHS and was friends with Don Cerveris. Frank and I used to go with Jerry and Don down to L.A. to Jerry's parent's house. Don and Jerry were in their 20's at the time, new teachers in the system, so they related pretty well to Frank. I went along because Frank always took me with him when he found ways to escape from Lancaster.
Valentine had moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1960. (That first trip to California, in 1937 on the freight trains, was merely a youthful escapade.) "I left Chicago because my wife dumped me, and I was flipped out," he says. He was also having a little career trouble. When I ask him what kind of cop he was—meaning detective, beat cop, or whatever—he cheerfully responds, "Corrupt!" In the grand tradition of Chicago law enforcement, Valentine was on the take from the Mob. "It was a way of life," he says unapologetically. One Chicago old-timer from that milieu remembers Valentine as a "real sharp dresser, a nice-looking fellow," who worked as a so-called Captain's Man, "collecting the filthy lucre on behalf of the captain." But the authorities caught on to him, and he was indicted for extortion. Though he was never convicted, it was in Valentine's best interests to get out of town. Fortunately, he had picked up another vocational skill while on the Chicago force. "I used to moonlight running nightclubs for the outfit," he says. "For gangsters."
So it was that Valentine found himself trying his hand at full-time nightclub management, overseeing operations at P.J.'s, which he co-owned with some fellow ex-Chicagoans.
Don Vliet (later known as Captain Beefheart) was in Frank's year at AVHS, but they didn't become friends until 1958, when Vliet saw Zappa hitch-hiking one day and gave him a lift. "I couldn't help it," said Vliet, "he looked so woebegone." They were almost the same age (Zappa was three weeks older) and shared musical tastes. [...] Don Vliet live on Carolside Avenue, a short ride due south of Zappa's place, in a virtually identical house.
When I was twelve, I started to play drums. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, I read a magazine article about Sam Goody's record shop in New York, which got famous for selling any kind of records very well. One of the examples of hard-to-sell records was [Ionisation]. But this article was wrong. The real title of that album was The Complete Works Of Edgard Varèse, Volume I, and "Ionisation" was just the name of one of the compositions on the album. I read the explanation of the record and thought, "it is the one I really want to hear". Since then, I'd go to various record shops to look for the record. But I couldn't find it. Nobody had ever heard of it, since the title I knew was wrong. But one day, I went to a record shop and found a weird looking album. The front jacket was gray and had a photo of Varèse. That was the one I'd been looking for. I emptied what little money I had and came home with it. I immediately found it different from any other music, even though I hadn't heard any of contemporary music—any of classical music, of course. The next record I bought was [Rite Of Spring]. I would keep listening to these two records for the next three years or so. The next composer I noticed was Anton Webern.
The first album I bought was the complete works of Edgar Varèse, still my favourite composer. He had balls. He had the audacity to do what he was doing against difficult odds.
[...] But I wouldn't compare myself to Varèse in other ways. One thing he did which I hope I never have to do is quit composing for 25 years because he just got fed up with everything. He couldn't get any performances so he just stopped writing, which I think was a big mistake. I've come close to that a few times but I realise how much I like his music and I realise how little of it there is and I realise that the reason there isn't very much of it is because he said 'fuck it' and stopped writing.
Varèse's harmonic concept doesn't resemble anybody else's. He creates substances rather than chords. He uses chemical concepts. The type of tension his harmonies create are like isotopic combinations. Some stable. Some unstable—highly volatile and about to explode. It gets into the field of psychoacoustics, really.
Take the interval of the third, for instance. When you hear it, it carries a message to your brain and produces uncontrollable emotional responses, some of which are predictable and some of which aren't understood yet. Varèse had the audacity to put these things down. The real thwarting and tweezing (of natural harmonic progressions) have only been done by Varèse and Webern.
FZ: The thing that led me to Varèse's music was an article in Look Magazine saying how great Sam Goody's record store was. Sam Goody sells records so well that he can even sell a record called Ionizations—they even called the album wrong—it was The Complete Works of Edgar Varèse, Volume I. And they were telling how ugly this record sounded. It was just drums and sirens and nobody would want to own this record and Sam Goody was actually selling it.
DR: Was this the one on Columbia.
FZ: The first album was recorded in 1950. He didn't get anything out on Columbia for another 10 years. This album was EMS—which stands for Elaine Music Stores—number 401. It had a gray cover. They had two different covers out on it. One was gray with a big portrait, one was black and white . . . The whole thing was conducted by Waldman . . .
DR: Frederic Waldman . . .
FZ: Yeah, Frederic Waldman, under the supervision of the composer. And the album notes were by Finkelstein . . . That was the first album I owned, period, but it was the first record of any kind of music other than rhythm and blues that I was interested in. It took me almost a year to find that record after I saw that article and I found it in a store and the guy wanted 6 dollars for it and I said "6 dollars for a record!" He said, "How much money you got." So I gave him 2 bucks and went away. I had, this little record player this big, with these little wrought iron legs which made it stand off the table like that and a speaker on the bottom that blew into the table. You put a quarter on the tone arm and that's what I used to play that album on over and over again. My parents forbade me to play it in their presence because the sirens made my mother neurotic while she was ironing . . .
My original favorite guitar player was Johnny "Guitar" Watson, not from a technical standpoint but from listening to what his notes meant in the context in which they were played.
Johnny is a friend of mine, he's been over to the house a number of times—in fact he's on the new rock & roll album. He's singing on a couple of—
[...] Anyway, Johnny came over to the house and I picked up this Telecaster that I had sitting around and I played that opening that opening lick from ["Three Hours Past Midnight"], and he literally fell on the floor. He was rolling around laughing. He was laughing for five minutes. Because I guess he just— He doesn't think about all those R&B records anymore.
[...] He has an expression—he calls it "The Dead Sea Scrolls." You know, he refers to that stuff as "The Scrolls," but, he's been in Disco Land for quite some time and had disco hits and like that, and there's really not that much of an appreciation for that style of music that he started of with. 'Cause I have records by him when he was called Young John Watson, when he recorded on Federal. He had a song called "Space Guitar" and the other side of that was "Half Pint Of Whiskey."
[...] He used to record for the Biharis on RPM, and I think his biggest hit on there was "Lonely Lonely Nights," the song that had a one note guitar solo in it which was the standard thing that everybody learned how to play— [...] He didn't even bend it, it was just, you know— The thing that was really funny about it is that the song plays a tonic chord and then it goes to the dominant chord, and all he's doing is just playing the tonic note through the whole thing with this really trebly, nasty—he calls it racier—tone— [...] It was astonishing, that was probably the beginning of minimal guitar playing.
Watson, he's the original minimalist guitar player. The solo on "Lonely Nights," the one-note guitar solo? Says it all! Gets the point across. I can remember guitar players in high school learning that solo and just going, "But how does he get it to sound that way?" It really was one note. If you can play that note against those chord changes and derive the same emotional impact that he got from playing that note, then you're onto something. He can make that one be so nasty. You know, like, "What's behind that note? What is the mode? Why are you continuing to play the tonic when the dominant chord comes around? Are you goin' like this [gestures with his middle finger in the "F-you" position] with your playing or what?" You have to learn how to do that.
One night, at a famous Hollywood Go-Go place, big Duke walked in, toupee firmly in place. Frank, spotting his chance to win over the celluloid wrangler, grabbed the microphone and introduced him: "Folks, tonight we were going to have with us one of history's most famous personages, George Lincoln Rockwell, acting head of the American Nazi Party. However, he couldn't make it. So, I would like to present instead, John Wayne."
Pandemonium, insults, everything followed. The Mothers were gaining notoriety and an audience, even at the risk of alienating that audience.
We eventually landed a job at the Action.
On Halloween night 1965, during the break before the last set, I was sitting on the steps in front of the place, wearing khaki work pants, no shoes, an 1890s bathing shirt and a black homburg hat with the top pushed up.
John Wayne arrived in a tux with two bodyguards, another guy and two ladies in evening gowns—all very drunk.
Reaching the steps, he grabbed me, picked me up and started slapping me on the back, shouting, "I saw you in Egypt and you were great . . . and then you blew me!"
I took an immediate dislike to the guy. Remember, all kinds of show people went to this club, from Warren Beatty to Soupy Sales, so it wasn't unusual for someone like "the Duke" to show up.
The place was packed. When I got up on stage to begin the last set, I announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, it's Halloween. We were going to have some important guests here tonight—we were expecting George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party—unfortunately, he couldn't make it—but here's John Wayne."
As soon as I said that, he got up from his table, stumbled onto the dance floor, and started to make a speech. I leaned the microphone down so everyone could hear it; something along the lines of "—and if I'm elected, I promise to . . . ." At that point, one of his bodyguards grabbed him and made him sit down. The other one handed the microphone back to me and told me to cool it or there was going to be BIG TROUBLE.
At the end of the show, the manager of the club came over to me and said, "Be nice to the Duke, because when he gets like this he starts throwing fifty-dollar bills around."
I had to pass his table on my way out. As I went by, he got up and smashed my hat down on top of my head. I took it off and popped it back out. This apparently annoyed him, as he shouted, "You don't like the way I fix hats? I've been fixin' hats for forty years." I put it back on my head and he smashed it down again. I said, "I'm not even gonna give you a chance to apologize," and walked out.
I remember one of the nights at The Action when Frank was sitting outside on the steps of the club and a whole bunch of people walked in. One of the people was John Wayne and he said something to Frank about the way he looked. Before we started to play, Frank told the people in the audience that we had a special guest that night. He said that John Wayne was running for the U.S. Senate and would John get up and make an acceptance speech. Everybody in the place started cheering. Now, I must tell you that John Wayne was drunk as a skunk that night and he did try to get up and make that speech. His bodyguards theratened Frank with bodily harm if he didn't shut up quick. They got John out of there pretty quick and everyone there got a very good laugh.
You ought to look into the complete works of Anton Webern on Columbia (K4L-232), conducted by Robert Craft. That's four records.
Tom Wilson was a great guy. He had vision, you know? And he really stood by us. When we did that first album, he was definitely in a state of "I don't know!" by the time we did the second song. I remember the first thing that we recorded was "Any Way the Wind Blows," and that was okay. Then we did "Who Are the Brain Police?" and I saw him through the glass and he was on the phone immediately to New York going, "I don't know!" Trying to break it to 'em easy, I guess. Some things you just don't break easily, though.
Wilson was an interesting guy. He's dead now, but he would take a chance on just about anything. I remember one day he came in and announced that he had just signed a Japanese psychedelic artist named Harumi, and Harumi was making some kind of a flower-power album. I never heard the album, I don't know if it was in Japanese or what. But it was the idea that, "Okay, today we're gonna record a Japanese psychedelic record." A lot of the credit for the odd stuff that went on the label has to go to him because he was the one who would stand up to the people that wrote the paychecks and say, "Yeah, I wanna record and/or produce these things." Without Wilson, we never would have got a contract.
When I was in high school, in Lancaster, I formed my first band, the Black-Outs. [...] This was the only R&B band in the entire Mojave Desert at that time. Three of the guys (Johnny Franklin, Carter Franklin and Wayne Lyles) were black, the Salazar brothers were Mexican and Terry Wimberly represented the other oppressed peoples of the earth.
Pamela Zarubica, age eighteen, was going to Pepperdine College near USC. She was not really involved in the rock scene—mostly she sat at home in Inglewood, California and listened to Bob Dylan records. [...]
She was introduced by her girl friend Julia (who eventually married John [Densmore] of the Doors) to Phil Spector [...]. Eventually she met John [Judnich], Lenny Bruce's roommate for ten years. John was best friends with Tim Hardin, the folk singer. She got to know the whole crew and their inner relationship. John liked Tim, Tim and John liked Lenny, Frank liked Lenny, Tim and Frank didn't like each other, and Frank and Phil hated each other. "Everyone was afraid of Frank but Phil was the only one smart enough to know why."
She first saw Frank Zappa while she and Julia were waiting to get into the Trip. The guest guitarist came in from the back. "He used to wear this big fur coat that looked like it was made out of dead cat . . . I thought he looked like Omar Sharif. I always called him Omar. He played a tune with the Grass Roots." [...]
Sometimes Frank and Pamela would go to [Canter's]. "I would stare at Phil Spector and he [Frank] would look at all the girls but none of them would have anything to do with him 'cause he just wasn't getting any action."
The Animals' sessions ended with Eric Burdon singing Ray Charles songs till everyone got tired of it and left. [...] David Anderle and Pamela [Zarubica] sat outside Frank's house in the car, getting high till the sky got dark. Frank sat inside the house, not getting high with one Lee Zeigon. They all sat around talking.
Zappa still has the tape he made that night of all of them sitting around talking, including the bit where Billy James burst into the room singing "Who put the snatch on the Lindberg baby?"
The Ash Grove features ETHNIC ETHNICAL ETHNOCENTRIC Folque Musique . . . I remember when Bud & Travis used to work there and Ed Pearl used to do Ethnopolitical Greasing for the newly founded cabaret at the Idyllwild Folk Freak Sanctuary in 1958, Before Hal Zeiger invented the HOOTENANNY.
[c. June, 1968] Hal Zeiger, an important entertainment promoter, came first and lounged on the sofa with Frank for a while.
Hal Zeiger (one of the first big promoters of rock entertainment during the 50s) says, "I knew that there was a big thing here that was basic, that was big, that had to get bigger. I realized that this music got through to the youngsters because the big beat matched the great rhythms of the human body. I understood that. I knew it and I knew there was nothing that anyone could do to knock that out of them. And I further knew that they would carry this with them the rest of their lives."
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos