If a person’s life can be studied and the conclusion be that they did exactly what they wanted in every area of expression, when they wanted to and never had regrets then you only begin to absorb the man named Frank Zappa one of the true guitar greats.

Composer, conductor, filmmaker, songwriter, artist, Satirical comedy genius, well studied, unafraid, a relentless voice that said what many wanted to in the theater of politics and human rights Zappa took on the world. Then there was also Zappa the Guitarist.

There was never before or since been as unique a player, there will never be. Dweezil Zappa will attest to the fact that not only does preparing to go play his father’s music require intense work, he can adapt many of the nuances his father had but his dad had a thing of his own.

Frank Zappa Black Napkins Frank Zappa “A Life In Six Strings”

Frank on guitar could be delicate and melodic, or downright nasty on some blues. He might kick on a Phaser and launch into some otherworldly improvisation. He sometimes had the guitar as a tool, and sometimes as a soloist, he crawled inside the guitar and became the instrument. No matter the application, he was one of the greatest ever. 

Frank Zappa – Black Napkins Oct.28, 1976

Dweezil Zappa Teaches Frank Zappa’s Improvisation Techniques | Reverb Interview

It didn’t matter the guitar, be it a Gibson SG, Les Paul, or a Fender Strat, it was still that sound inside the man.

The cannon of his original works is a staggering study. He would also take a classic by other artists and adopt them at the moment. 

Frank Zappa – whipping post

His time working with the Mothers of Invention was often avant-garde and turn on a dime to perfect orchestral movements. 

The Mothers Of Invention – Live In London 1968

In the avant-garde and free thought as art area, many benefitted, included high school mate Don Van Vliet “Captain Beefheart” who Zappa brought to the world’s attention and they would work together in different times and situations from Beefheart’s  “Trout Mask Replica” Through Franks own albums such as “Hot Rats” and the live gem “Bongo Fury”.

Frank Zappa Captain Beefheart: The Early Years

ZAPPA/BEEFHEART/MOTHERS – Bongo Fury LP 1975 Full Album

The release of “Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar” Is a landmark. I’ve found some alternative versions with some moments of “Wow Factor” 

Frank Zappa …and Play Yer Guitar (at UMRK) (unpublished material) 

The Mothers are set to be revisited this year with the news we found via Guitar World Magazine.

“ The entirety of Frank Zappa and the Mothers’ legendary June 1971 run at New York City’s Fillmore East will be released on a massive new 8-CD box set, The Mothers 1971.

Set for a March 18 release via Zappa Records/UMe, the collection notably features Zappa’s June 6, 1971 encore jam at the Fillmore with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa archivist Joe Travers.

The Mothers 1971 also contains Zappa’s infamous December 10, 1971 show at the Rainbow Theatre in London, during which – after a rendition of The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand – Zappa was attacked by a deranged fan, suffering serious injuries that left him wheelchair-bound for almost a year.”

My Birthday is March 29….hint a hint inserts an evil grin here.

Zappa And The Mothers “200 Motels” – Mystery Roach / Magic Fingers (Bizu Mix)

The one hit of “Valley Girl” with Daughter Moon, or the humor of “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” is nothing within one thousand miles of his defining moments musical or otherwise. The Songs of Frank Zappa are so widely varied from Satire to the Orchestral. This man in 1963 appeared on the Steve Allen show and played a Bicycle.

The man who when asked how he wanted to be remembered replied “It’s not important.” Pushed further about the music “ It’s not important to even be remembered. I mean the people who worry about being remembered are people like Reagan, Bush, these people want to be remembered, and these guys will spend a lot of money and a lot of work so that remembrance is just terrific.” final question “And for Frank Zappa?”. “I don’t care.” 

Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster brought in by Dweezil Zappa at Norman’s Rare Guitars

However, his wish became anything but true. Love him or hate him for various reasons, it is undeniable that The Work lasts. Just one part of his remembrance is the fact he was one of the best Guitarists in History and will never be forgotten.

While we are speaking of guitarists called Frank why not check out this post about Frank Marinos Illness and farewell tour.

By Jimmy Flemming

Jimmy Fleming is a Dystonia advocate and Guitarist from Ohio. He authored and co wrote interviews on over 100 articles about guitar and bands on Guitardoor Listen to his latest music and full biography on his website.

One thought on “Frank Zappa “A Life In Six Strings””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.