Wonderful Wino

(FZ aka Lamarr Bruister & Jeff Simmons)

Original version(s)


FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



Strange Days, September 11-25, 1970

Frank Zappa Warner Bros. (Preview)

Finishing [...] is "Wonderful Wino", also recorded at Trident. Vocals ring of Captain Beefheart in "Willie the Pimp", interspliced around ripping guitar pieces.

Rip Rense, The Lost Episodes (1996) liner notes

This song grew from a Jeff Simmons instrumental appearing on his 1969 FZ-sponsored Bizarre album, Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up. Simmons (...) and guitarist Craig Tarwater (late of an L.A. band, Sons of Adam) had cut two instrumentals for the album at the old Del-Fi Studios in Hollywood. Simmons remembered: "One of the instrumentals was basically Craig Tarwater's rhythm track—a backwards guitar, Les Paul crunch that we did. Frank, who stepped in and helped salvage [produce] the album when it bogged down, heard it and said, 'I think I've got some lyrics for that.' Hence was born 'Wonderful Wino.' Ostensibly, Frank and I are responsible for that song coming to fruition. He wrote the lyrics on the spot. I had a sax that I was honking on; I didn't know how to play it." He laughed, and added: "Maybe he thought I sounded like a wino on this horn."

Chris Maxfield

I think Zappa's (sheaves) reference in that song is more to the Rescue Mission
where winos might go for a bowl of soup and subsequently be forced to listen to
preaching and even the singing of songs like "Bringing In the Sheaves" by some
members of an organization like the Salvation Army. A sheave, for those who
don't know, is one of those upright bundles of cut oats or wheat that stand
looking so picturesque in old-time paintings of fields. Modern agriculture has
eliminated the need for sheaves, but I suppose they still exist someplace.

Foggy G, "The Songs That Were Played," We're Only In It For The Touring

1970 (Jun-Dec): Another tune that simply rocks. With Simmons on vocals, Dunbar frantically thrashing away in the background, Flo 'n' Eddie relegated to background vocals, and Frank playing the role of rock 'n' roll guitar player, this song infuses a high dose of energy into the nightly proceedings. It is essentially performed as on "Freaks and Motherfu*#@%!" from Beat the Boots Volume I, with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. The Dr. John routine is not a nightly event, however, even though it manages to successfully entertain in its single occurrence.

1971: Essentially performed as on "Playground Psychotics", with the awesome "Bringing in the Sheaves" introduction setting up Frank's ferocious opening chords and riffs. This is simply one of Frank's better straightforward rock songs, and I have always been a fan of this tour simply for this tune (and the one reason why I continually dig up my "Playground Psychotics" album). Another case of a potentially big mainstream hit sabotaged by Frank's lyrics.

1976-77: This tune only rears its head several times on this tour, and while it is nice to hear, it makes us long for the more energetic Flo 'n' Eddie performances (say it isn't so). It is essentially performed as on "Zoot Allures", though at a slightly more upbeat tempo, and with the standard deviation coming in the song-ending guitar solo. Frank's vocals are weak, his "I-can't-play-and-sing-at-the-same-time" limitations lend the song an unwanted staccato effect, and Bianca's backing vocals only serve to remind you of what a real singer sounds like. Again, it is a welcome treat amidst the otherwise limited setlists, but sadly, not as successful as it could have been.. [Jon Naurin has this to say- "FZ delivers the guitar riff very powerfully, which is more than can be said about the vocals. Now that we've become spoilt by Lancelotti's treatment, FZ's sounds rather lame. For the chorus, Bianca adds some flavour, making you wish that the song would be about a Wino Girl instead. A short and not too exciting solo concludes the song."]


Conceptual Continuity


Site maintained by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2020-01-22