Are you still using the SG pictured on the cover of the "live" Roxy & Elsewhere album?
No, I have another SG that I'm using. The one that's on the Roxy cover has since been thoroughly injured by an airline company, they beat the hell out of it. They cracked the neck, and the most recent time it came back from Europe the binding was off the fretboard. I had the neck repaired, but it's never been the same; it flexes so much that it's hard to keep in tune, so I hardly use it anymore.
If you wanted to play [at The Troubadour], you signed those contracts. David [Geffen] and Elliot [Roberts] thought it was an injustice to the acts, so with Lou Adler and [club owner] Elmer Valentine, they opened the Roxy.
Most of the material in this double set was recorded Dec. 10, 11 & 12, 1973, at The Roxy, Hollywood. Other portions were extracted from road tapes (4-track 15-ips masters) of show #2, Mothers Day, 1974, at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, and the recent gymnasium extravaganza at Edinboro State College, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, May 8, 1974.
Some of the material has been overdubbed (Bolic Studios & Paramount Studios, Hollywood), but all basic tracks are live. The Roxy remote recording was done by Wally Heider (16-track 30-ips), engineered by Kerry McNab (who also is responsible for the re-mix on the whole album). The engineer for the road tapes was Bill Hennigh. None of the road material has been overdubbed.
[unidentified engineer & FZ]
[unidentified engineer & FZ]
Sherman [Barrymore] Keene says that's not him in either photo.
(Brian, I could use a little bit more monitor).
A true Zen saying: Nothing is what I want . . . The results of a higher education!
I was interested in Zen for a long time. That's what got me away from being a Catholic, fortunately. But it's my observation that eastern religions are wonderful if you are living anywhere but the United States. The best they can do for you here is, uh, give you a certain feeling of calm, if you can practice meditation and abstinence by yourself, away from everything else that's happening. The real goal of eastern religión, with mystical experience and all that, those aims are difficult if not impossible to achieve in an industrial society. And I think that most of the people who claim to have made satori someplace in the States today really gotta be pulling your leg. And I think that that sort of enlightenment bears very little relationship to the amount of chants that you can sing.
The name of this song is "Village Of The Sun," and it tells the story of a black community in the desert in California, where the people raise turkeys. In this area, 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.
Even Johnny Franklin too
And Thelma too
Jim Cohen's lecture brought forth the information (from Frank's brother Bob, father of noted saxophonist and contributor to BANANAFISH, Stanley Jason Zappa) that "Thelma" in the song refers to Johnny Franklin's mother.
I talked with John Franklin on the phone. [...] Thelma, the owner of the Village Inn, was not Johnny Franklin's mother.
Past the Village Inn & Barbecue
To mention Sun Village the people out there accepted our group fondly—just young kids out there doing their thing. I think Frank really appreciated the way he was accepted out there in that community and always had a fondness for it. [...] People out there stood behind him, like "Don't mess with Frank," and "Bring it on, Frank." We were doing jobs, we worked Palmdale, Lancaster, Edwards Air Force Base—we did a lot of local stuff. They sponsored us on a lot of local gigs, stuff like this. People that he'd (later) sing about in "Village Of The Sun." He remembered me, he remembered Teddy [Bunn].
Where the stumblers gonna go
To watch the lights turn blue?
Between sets they'd turn on the jukebox and, as soon as they did, a guy they called "The Stumbler" would go over to it, and dance FOR it—he'd sort of worship it, as if it was The Shrine Of Music. Eventually, he'd be joined by a couple of 'assitant stumblers,' and they'd all bob and weave and grovel in front of it.
After 30 years of listening to fz I just realized that BE BOP TANGO is quoted in the melody to DONT YOU EVER WASH....
At some point, Frank suggested we split the theme at specific places and insert five-beat drum fills into these measured intervals. We had a bit of a laugh imagining this new plan. Soon we were in a boisterous mood, and some of us chimed in with our own proposals. By the time Ralph offered his stroke of brilliance—to eliminate the drum fills altogether at the repeat, and have only silence during those gaps—, we were truly manic and laughing uncontrollably. [...] Ralph's idea also stuck!
[FZ] delighted in compounding the difficulty by giving us other tasks to perform within the allotted time, such as pretending to comb our hair (think Kookie, on "77 Sunset Strip") or turning completely around before resuming our parts. FZ enjoyed trying to derail me personally during the "Watch Ruth" segment, and frequently changed what he said or how he said it; his entertaining schtick often made it harder for me to concentrate on counting than to play the written lick itself.
[...] Dweezil has described an aspect of Frank's music as "cartoonesque," and there's a wonderful example of that in Frank's use of a phrase he borrowed from Penguin In Bondage. Here, it occurs twice, in two series of three times each, and is quite grotesquely presented, to great effect.
Can you tell me any movies you liked?
Yeah. 'The Beast From Haunted Cave', 'Wasp Woman', 'The Killer Shrews'—those are the kind of movies I used to go and see. Science Fiction movies.
But some of them are really badly made.
I know, but I didn't go there to see an artistic experience, I went there to crack up. I wanted to see the guy turn around and I wanted to see the zipper on the back of the monster. The cheaper the better, that was my idea of a good time.
You don't go and see Godard and people like that?
I asked [FZ] which were his favorite movies. "The Killer Shrews, The Beast of Haunted Cave, Mesa of Lost Women and The Brainiac," he sputtered out. I had never heard of them and was confused by their obscurity.
"You don't see them very often anymore. In fact the only way to see Mesa of Lost Women is by renting it for about $14 from Budget Films."
Which the peasants in this area call FRUNOBULAX
"Frunobulax" is a name Gail thought up, based on the name of a cow Moon drew when she was five years old.
On this particular tour we've just spent 2 weeks rehearsing, for nostalgic purposes, a collection of songs from the FREAK OUT album. And there's not much jamming in that. I mean you have to learn the arrangements. We have one long, continuous slab of relentless FREAK OUT music. It's funny, you know. If we play that—we haven't unleashed it yet on an audience, [this Allendale, MI, one will] be our first concert on the tour and it's our newest piece of old stuff. And we've never done that before. You know we've never gone out and played vast quantities of stuff from albums. Usually our show consists of things that are unreleased, or a small sample of request songs. But now we have like a half an hour or 45-minute continuous piece of familiar material. And I'm anxious to see what's gonna happen if we play it for an audience, because we're always getting requests for things we never bothered to learn.
[...] The FREAK OUT thing [...] starts off with "It Can't Happen Here" and then goes into "Monster Magnet" and then "Hungry Freaks" and "Probably Wondering Why I'm Here" and then "How Could I Be Such a Fool?" "No Heart," "I'm Not Satisfied," "Wowie Zowie," "Let's Make the Water Turn Black," "Harry You're a Beast," "Orange Country Lumber Truck," "Oh 'No," "Watts Riot Song," and "Mother People," and that is all continuous straight through.
There wasn't an audition, actually. [...] When [Phil Collins] called, he was apparently a pretty big fan of (Zappa's) Roxy and Elsewhere, and he was specifically looking for a drummer who could play with another drummer. He wasn't totally willing to just give up the drum chair, so he was hoping to find someone who would be comfortable playing in a two-drummer situation. There was one song (on that album) with a specific fill that a lot of drummers were into at that time. In fact on the first day of rehearsal, the first thing he said is, "Ok, how do you play the fill?" and I knew exactly what he was talking about (laughs). It's two distinctive drums parts that sound pretty amazing. Basically, he said that he had heard the Roxy and Elsewhere album, and he talked with the other guys in the group and had played for them various tracks that I had recorded. I don't necessarily know which ones. And, if I am not mistaken, he had gone to the London Weather Report concert, which happened to be the last gig I did with them. He said that he had already done all of that so, since they were all in favor of it, if I wanted the gig it was mine. That's pretty much how it went.
Brenda, imported from Edwards Air Force Base, where she . . . Ladies and gentlemen, Brenda . . . Brenda is a PROFESSIONAL HARLOT, and she just got finished stripping for a bunch of guys at Edwards Air Force Base, and she made it down here in time for the show.
Brenda has a lovely assistant named Carl, or Robert James Davis if you prefer.
Pretty certain I saw [Carl Franzoni] and a few dancers with Zappa during a concert at the Roxy taping in 1974. They were introduced on the stage as some people whip had been around Hollywood for a long time. The song was The Bebop Tango.
[Carl Franzoni & Brenda]
He did send me a telegram for something he was doing at the Roxy, and I'm on the cover of that, dancing on the stage with him.
And he asked me to come and bring some dancers and— It was a low level, we could only dance around, but he got me on the stage, whoever did the photography, he got me in this kind of a shadow.
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos