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September 17, 2010

Share your Frank Zappa memories

 

Sarah K.K. here, pinch-hitting with a Friday-night request. As you know if you've read Erik's coverage from this week, this weekend marks the unveiling of a statue celebrating legendary, Baltimore-born musician Frank Zappa.

Are you going to this weekend's events? Did you ever see him live? What was the first record of his you bought? What did you really think of "Valley Girl?" Tell us - How will you remember the eccentric musical genius?

Sun photo by Monica Lopossay


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Posted by Sarah Kickler Kelber at 7:01 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Local music
        

Comments

I remember they built a statue of him and unveiled it this week...that's about where it starts and stops for me. Back to you!

Saw Zappa with the Mothers a number of time. First time was at the Atlantic City Pop Festival in 69. Over the years I saw them at the Lyric [both the afternoon and evening shows] , Constitution Hall and a concert at McGonicles Park near Annapolis. Somehow I got backstage for that one, met a few band members.
First took a chance on a Mothers album when I was 15. Hated it. Revisited it about a year later and played Absolutely Free about 10 times in a row. Went out and bought both Freak Out and Lumpy Gravy. Have been a fan ever since. His fan club, which I belonged to was United Mutations. He definitely had a sense of humor.

First saw Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show when I was 13. Went out and bought the Mothermania album, the perfect introduction. It made me a lifelong fan. Zappa was my real introduction to the world of music, people like Eric Dolphy, Edgard Varese and many others that were new to me. Saw him live several times including once in Baltimore with Captain Beefheart (another genius). Will be at the unveiling for sure.

I was introduced to the first "Mothers of Invention" album, "Freak Out" by a classmate at Towson High School (1968). I also remember a great radio documentary about Frank Zappa by Baltimore composer Dawn Culbertson (broadcast over the Towson State carrier current radio station in 1974).
Zappa's bands were made up of superb musicians whose performances were professional, well rehearsed, and always memorable. His bands frequently played venues in this area (I remember concerts at the old Lyric Theater and at College Park in the 70's).
We should all also remember that we owe Frank a debt of gratitude for his front-line battles in the war against government censorship.

My father shared a few of his Zappa tapes back when I was in middle school... less explicit stuff, mostly, but I was the only kid listening to "Apostrophe" on his walkman while waiting for the bus. Wish I were there for the unveiling!

My first Zappa show was Halloween 1977 at the Palladium in NYC. Still one of the greatest concerts I ever saw. Baby Snakes was being filmed. I was a fan before then but that blew me away I remained a big fan ever since. Much of the stuff he was doing in the 80's seemed over the top when it came to Republicans and the Religious right but by the time the 2000's and Bush came along he seemed more Prophetic than over the top.

I remember the day he died. I was in North Carolina driving around listen to a talk radio show. The host talked about how when he came in that morning the people in his office were all upset. So this guy who knew nothing about Frank Zappa beyond "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" opened his lines to Zappa fans to talk about him. By the end of the show the host was dumbstruck about Zappa's career, orchestral work and other accomplishments. He kept repeating "Why didn't anybody know about all this".

I'm so glad that he left such a legacy behind and thanks to the Zappa Family for keeping it alive. Enjoy the Day.

My first Zappa show was Halloween 1977 at the Palladium in NYC. Still one of the greatest concerts I ever saw. Baby Snakes was being filmed. I was a fan before then but that blew me away I remained a big fan ever since. Much of the stuff he was doing in the 80's seemed over the top when it came to Republicans and the Religious right but by the time the 2000's and Bush came along he seemed more Prophetic than over the top.

I remember the day he died. I was in North Carolina driving around listen to a talk radio show. The host talked about how when he came in that morning the people in his office were all upset. So this guy who knew nothing about Frank Zappa beyond "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" opened his lines to Zappa fans to talk about him. By the end of the show the host was dumbstruck about Zappa's career, orchestral work and other accomplishments. He kept repeating "Why didn't anybody know about all this".

I'm so glad that he left such a legacy behind and thanks to the Zappa Family for keeping it alive. Enjoy the Day.

I saw him twice in Germany, once in Wiesbaden in 1979 and once in Frankfurt at the old opera house in 1982. I actually got him to sign a record at the Frankfurt gig, and it was a record that Reprise released without his permission - he was totally cool about signing it, although he did give me a little grief (I was only 17). I kind of lost interest in his non-early-Mothers music in the 80s (still play the early records from time to time), although I always respected his freedom of expression activities.

Broadway The Hardway Tour 1988, Springfield, Mass. Me and my friend had to get individual seats far apart but that didn't take anything away from the quality of the show. Long story short, it was brilliant. You know a band has got their shi* together when the percussionist has their vibes MIDI'd to play upright bass on cue and they busted through a full side of Joe's Garage perfectly. Probably one of the top five concerts in my lifetime.

Music Is The Best.

My brother, me, and a couple other guys went down the Inner Harbor one Saturday night sometime in the early 80's; the day before we were going out to Painters Mill to See Zappa in concert. While standing in line waiting to quench our thirst, Frank comes walking by me wearing a wild purple jacket, yellow pants and bright, ruby red, platform shoes. I said hi and the 5 of us tood there talking for about 5 minutes. He was very cool about the whole thing and even made mention of us on stage the next night. It was a true highlight because My brother and I are huge Zappa fans

I remember my first ZAPPA concert it was a Capital Center. ZAPPA was great and other concerts like Owings Mills Music Fair was the best which you can touch him from the crowd...
Zappa was true experience for all fans of Music... His great style of guitar was GREAT~~!!
If Frank Zappa was still ALIVE I would find a way to get tickets to see him once again...I even gave a fan tear when he pass away years ago...
I recently got a old LP called ZAPPED~~!!
which had a good cut of Frank's collection...I wish he was still alive today to wake up the world and be President of the United States to show the people the right way of the US Government problems...

I first saw him at the Felt Forum in NYC on Hallloween night 1974. Every member of the band was a virtuoso and the music was mind bogglingly complex, blending jazz, shimmering progressive rock, classical...and satirical humor!!! I saw the same band a week later at the Capitol Theater and their set and vibe was very different. Each Zappa concert I went to was a unique event with different songs, musicians, and themes -- but always of a super high caliber of musicianship and improvisation.

The last band he had in 1988 was a ten piece ensemble that had memorized around 200 songs. Some of them were orchestrally complex; it was all off the charts virtuosity. On top of all the original stuff, they messed around with hits of the times, like "Ring of Fire," "Stairway to Heaven," "Whipping Post," and "I Am the Walrus" -- wonderful renditions!

At that time, Frank was lambasting the hypocritcial televangelical preachers of the day like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker -- improvising hilarious and pornographic/satirical diatribes about them at unexpected interludes within his songs. I loved the way he was able to put a merciless spotlight on liars and cheats and hypocrites. And he really made fun of the Republicans and political process, but didn't spare the Democrats either.

At a show I went to In Rochester, NY in 1988, he got a medal from the Mayor of Rochester and the League of Women's voters for his work in registering people to vote -- tables were set up in the concert lobby and people could register during intermission. That was the last time he ever toured.

My friends and I were hugely influenced by Frank's independence of thought and spirit, his unrelenting creativity and artistic integrity. He was honest down to the fine details of artistry, and an unfathomably hard-working producer, composer and entrepreneur -- as well as a dedicated family man with a great wife and children who had creative spirits of their own.

Back in the 1970s it made a huge impression on me that he had made fun of stuff you weren't supposed to make fun of -- like the hippy movement ("oh look, my hair is getting good in the back"); he didn't allow the musicians in his band to do drugs, and poked fun at people who displayed the herd instinct of conformity at a time when such conformity was supposed to be "counterculture."

And he was a great guitarist, as influential as Santana and Hendrix and Clapton and others of that time. Dweezil has really taken it on to a new level. The "Zappa Plays Zappa" band really floored me at the celebration in Baltimore! Our world needs music and quality like this kept alive.

Frank Zappa changed my life both with his music and is album cover art. I remember in '68 I traded a Bob Dylan LP for Absolutely Free. All changed from that point on! Freedom of Speech! Social Commentary! Parody! Humor! Incredible Guitar Work! Intricate Compositions and alway a super array of sidemen! Zappa was BEYOND IMMENSE!! He has left behind an enormous body of work!! A what a FUNNY Guy he was, if he didn't make you laugh, you missed it!! And thanks for his family being there to carry it all on to others.

"Watch out where the Huskies go, don't you eat that yellow snow.' A most profound directive given to us by Frank Zappa.

Most definately the first memory of Frank was from the Phi Zappa Crappa poster. w/ Frank on the commode. It all went south from there!! Remember all the Zappa rumors about where he lived and went to school, etc.

Everyone, thanks for the comments. I've put together a round-up of some of them: http://bit.ly/dmK9eC

My first concert was Frank Zappa. It was 1981 and I was 14 years old. It was at Painters Mill but originally scheduled for the Baltimore Civic Center...which evidently was double booked that night. We didn't find out until we walked up to the door. Thankfully, they put on 2 shows and we got seats for they 10:30pm showing...way past my bedtime I might add. Saw him 7 times in all. The world is a more interesting and rich place because of Frank. Music is the best! Zappacheers!

I first heard the music of Frank Zappa in 1969 in the cafeteria at my high school during lunch. At that time, students would bring in records to play over the P.A. system while we ate. When the Freak Out album was put on to play, I listened intently. At the time, I was totally unaware of Zappa's music. At age 14, I became a fan. The first Zappa album I purchased was "Just Another Band From L.A.". Through the years, I have purchaseed all of Zappa's recorded works. I saw him in concert at The Baltimore Civic Center, University of Maryland, Painters Mill, Capital Center, Towson State University, Merriweather Post Pavilion and Warner Theater. Every Zappa show was fantastic! Truly one of a kind. I've had the opportunity to hear Dweezil's band twice. Outstanding performances by Dweezil and his band. I will continue to attend Dweezil's concerts as often as possible. They're the next best thing to the real thing.

My brother in law is a concert promoter, I first saw Zappa at Shriver Hall, I had been into his music for years, and at that concert, I remember just being blown away by his music, all the arrangements, his cigarette he would place at the top of his guitar strings.. His band was so tight, the vocals were mind blowing... Truly an experience... his music was a constant journey!

ZAPPA & BALTIMORE
I've been a FZ-fan for several years but I didn't know, intil 1992, he was born in Baltimore. March 1992 I visited Baltimore and my friend David knew FZ was born there. He still sents me articles from the Baltimore Sun whenever there's news.

I saw FZ two times in Rotterdam, in 1980 and 1988. My brother found the 1980 concert, the 1988 concert was special. You can find more of it on the TBBYNH album including the Bolero.

Good to know that two beautiful things are related in my memories

I was introduced to Frank Zappa at 16 yrs old by my best friend's (older) boyfriend. Only got to see him once in concert about 2 yrs later, though- Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. (circa 1974-75?)

I hate to say it, but I will:
Frank was AWFUL. I can't remember who opened for him that night, but they were really darn good. Had the place rockin'.

Then Frank hit the stage and spent most of his stage time tuning up his guitar, adjusting his amps and mic, rambling on about this or that, and generally seeming out of sorts.
I think he may have actually played three songs... that's it. Everyone was bummed.

I was also very disappointed. I never got to see him again to enjoy a good concert of his, but I remain a fan just the same.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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