1989—Chronology Sources, Notes & Comments

February 22, 1989—31st Annual Grammy Awards (1988)

"Frank Zappa," Recording Academy Grammy Awards

Best Rock Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group Or Soloist)
Guitar (Album)


February, 1989—Joe's Garage

Don Menn, "Marque Coy," Zappa!, 1992, p. 88

It was in the middle of the '88 tour that Gail Zappa decided to open such a place. To run it, Frank suggested Marqueson; to house it, the ugly warehouse where for 15 years they had stored his equipment, Zappa rehearsed his bands, and finally, where Barfko-Swill was born. [...] "The Zappas didn't know what they were going to call it," Coy recounts. "I said, 'Well, you own the name.' They said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'The line in the song goes: "You can jam at Joe's Garage . . ." Let's call it "Joe's Garage."' And we did."

[...] The doors of Joe's Garage opened in February 1989

May 23, 1989—An Evening With Pierre Boulez And Frank Zappa

Schoenberg Hall, May 23, 1989

Den Simms, T'Mershi Duween, October, 1989

On May 23 1989, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the UCLA Music Department presented 'An Evening With Pierre Boulez and Frank Zappa', in conversation at Schoenberg Hall at the university.

The presentation, which was preceded by a short press conference and photo opportunity, was sold out, and attended by such luminaries as the entire Zappa family, Mike Keneally, Scott Thunes, Bob Rice, Denny Walley, Janet the Planet, Laurel Fishman and Eric Buxton. It was hosted and 'moderated' by a fairly well-informed gentleman by the name of David Raksin. The evening was divided into two parts, the first comprising conversation on music and related subjects by the three participants, followed by a lengthy segment where previously written and collected questions from the audience were presented.


The World Orchestra

Cathy Inglis, Music & Media, April 22, 1989

Zappa Plans World Orchestra

Frank Zappa's company, Why Not, is planning to recruit a World Orchestra to perform at the World Expo '92 in Seville. Zappa: "I hope to have 12 musicians by the end of the year. The idea is that they should be ethnic musicians able to read music—no easy task.

"Our first move will be to film a video to give the artists pre-promotion prior to exposure. They will then perform occasional concerts at smaller festivals. And after that I will recruit a backing orchestra of either 40 or 80 musicians and by late 1990 we will record an LP."

Zappa is inviting composers around the world to compose five to eight minute classical pieces, but the initial concerts will also include a strong element of popular music—some of which may be accompanied by lyrics.

Music & Media, April 22, 1989
Frank Zappa was in Madrid recently to visit Eduardo Bautista García, Vice President SGAE, Spain's right society, to discuss his project for a World Orchestra.

FZ, May 23, 1989 (quoted by Den Simms, T'Mershi Duween, October, 1989)

About four months ago, I made a proposal to the World's Fair organisation, the next one is in Seville 1992, and I offered to put together an orchestra that was made up of ethnic instruments, people who could play ethnic instruments from all different countries who could also read music and could play different styles, and could combine these with electronic instruments and normal orchestral instruments. Part of the project was that the people from Expo would commission composers around the world to write five to eight minute pieces for this orchestra. In other words, if you wanted to, if you were a composer that wanted to have access to these special ethnic instruments, it could be very difficult for you to afford to gather together, from all over the world, these different pieces of equipment, and have people who could read music and play it. It would be creating a vehicle that would provide an opportunity for a lot of composers. The status of the project is this: I'm going to Spain on May 28, because I've been told that the Christopher Columbus Committee, which is another organisation from Madrid which is putting on a big event in 1992, wants to finance the orchestra. I will believe it when I get a contract for it, but if they decide that they will finance this orchestra, I will then get on a plane and start shopping for musicians all over the world. I will get this together for them, and I spoke to Pierre [Boulez] the other day at breakfast and invited him to write a piece, (with mock anger) but HE'S TOO BUSY THOUGH!


May, 1989—UMRK re-wired

Don Menn, "Dave Dondorf In The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen: It Breaks, He Fixes," Zappa!, 1992, p. 79

"The level of connectivity in there is truly remarkable," Dave explains. "Everything is in sync. I went at this from the standpoint that I hated the way it had been wired. The original wiring may not have been bad, and I don't want to have anybody coming back and hitting me and saying, "You said I was bad." It's just that there's been a whole series of people who've worked for Frank, and each one had implemented their own ideas in various degrees. I wanted to start fresh, so I virtually yanked everything. The most difficult thing about rewiring was that I had to do it in a very short time. Frank took the family to Spain for a week. When he left there was one studio, when he came back it was a completely different studio, and everything was new."


UMRK Staff

June, 1989—Lewis Saul Audition

Lewis Saul, "How'd Ya Meet Frank?," 2000

[June 12, 1989]

Hi, this is Gail Zappa! [...] Frank wants to talk to you!

[...] He wanted to interview me for the position of "personal assistant." What did this entail, I asked? Well, he wanted someone to be able to set him up on the Synclavier so patch X was loaded and patch Y was filed correctly and he was impressed with my secretarial skills and wanted someone who could help him handle his new company, WhyNot, which was going to do business in Eastern Europe and Russia.

[June 14, 1989]

I'm ushered into the house and into the living room where Frank is talking with a business type. [...] And then finally it was my turn. [...] We meandered our way through a few rooms and ended up at a piano (not in the studio). He says, "sit down and play something." [...]

Then we went to the studio. [...] He introduces me to Bob Stone and we sit over in the corner, he on a couch and me on a chair. He's got my resume with him and wants to get down to details. The music is going on and off as Stone mixes away. [...] He did the standard job interview thing with me for quite some time—maybe 45 minutes. [...] The whole time was really intense, and my amazement at his routine grew moment by moment when—in the middle of a long threaded discussion about the work and my abilities, etc.—he would, without changing the tone of his voice, give Stone an order or suggestion about the mix. "Sweeten that applause" came at one point—"bring up that bari sax"—etc. etc.

[...] Then he excused himself and eventually Stone took a break and I was in that studio all by myself for quite a long time. [...] Bob Rice came in and we talked for awhile. He was there to "clean out his desk." He tried to assure me that even with my minute MIDI knowledge, I could "pick it up." He was really nice and gave me his phone number and offered to help.

[...] Eventually Frank returned. I'm afraid I had made up my mind that this wasn't going to work—mainly because, as I said previously, in my heart I knew I wasn't capable of the long demanding hours—and there was the whole matter of moving to Los Angeles from our longtime home here in Tucson. My wife is a settled professional and our oldest was just starting school, and it would have been a tough move. In any case, I ended up having back surgery in November. [...]

Todd Yvega

Todd Yvega, Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison (2011), liner notes

I started working with Frank in 1989.


Leaving The Music Business

FZ, interviewed by Deborah Parisi, Rhythm, July, 1989

For 25 years I have tried to do something more than wonderful in the United States. And I have eaten shit. I can't get my music played on the radio. I do a series of sold-out concerts and lose $400,000. I wind up with musicians who feel they can do it all without me. Now what is this?

I have been offered opportunities to move into another type of life. Another type of work. And I'm gonna do it. [...] You'll read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

[...] I figure that there are other places in the world where large-scale interesting projects can work, and will work. Even if businessmen and politicians in the United States are too stupid to do them. And they must be done. So if I can't do them here, I'll do them somewhere else. What are you supposed to do? At this point, the whole idea of being a composer is, 'Well, that's a nice hobby.' So long as it doesn't cost me too much to do. If I can squeeze it in with the rest of the stuff, OK, I'll do it.

But I'm negotiating to sell all the 'P' copyrights to all of my masters, and trying to basically move away from the music business. Because, really, it's too depressing. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with a broken heart, eating shit. You know what I mean? I don't need this. And you wouldn't either.

[...] There's still plenty of stuff that's either completed or near completion that I will finish off, so there will be more product coming out. But I must say that my whole desire to function in the world of music has severely diminished. How long can you wait? How much can you do? How much can you lose before you look in the mirror and say, 'You're out of your fuckin' mind'?



FZ, interviewed by Rick and Suds, WIOD, Miami, FL

It was just an accident. I was invited over there with a guy who was thinking about opening a guitar factory and when I looked around I saw opportunities [...] and I told people about it.

Patrice Apodaca, "Zappa Keeps Eye Now On Bottom Line," Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1989

Like any other businessman, he's worked at cutting his overhead and he looks for new business opportunities where he can find them, some as distant as the Soviet Union. [...] After four trips to the Soviet Union in recent years, Zappa has a variety of non-music deals he's trying to put together. He's already set up an agreement for a Chatsworth company to receive amber for jewelry-making from the Soviets, for which he received a 10% commission.

He is also working on starting a satellite-linked television show that would feature Soviet and American business and legal experts exchanging ideas and information. He says cable channel Financial News Network is interested in the concept, and he has another working trip to the Soviet Union planned for January. Other joint U.S.-Soviet deals in the works include the possible manufacture of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the Soviet Union.


Additional informant: Javier Marcote

Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2020-02-14