If affluence and power is the Great American Dream, Frank Zappa is the Great American Nightmare.
Zappa leads the Mothers Of Invention. The Mothers arrive in Britain in September. September could well prove to be an interesting, if not explosive, month.
"It's difficult to evaluate the impact we'll have on British audiences. As I've only just landed I can only go on the bare minimum of facts that I've gathered, reports I've read, and things people have told me," said Zappa quietly last week in his London hotel. (read more)
1969 May 3
The Mothers Are Coming!
Six-city tour planned
The Mothers Of Invention – the most controversial group in the world today – are to tour Britain from May 30.
This will be the first time that the group has been seen in Britain outside London. They first came here from America in 1967 for a concert at the Royal Albert Hall and, in 1968, appeared at the Royal festival Hall. Both concerts drew mixed reviews, ranging from adulation to denegration.
The tour opens on May 30 at Birmingham Town Hall and continues at the City Hall, Newcastle (31), Palace Theatre, Manchester (June 1), Colston Hall, Bristol (3), Guildhall, Portsmouth (5), and London's Royal Albert Hall (6).
The Mothers will play the whole of each concert, with no supporting acts.
A new album "Mothermania," subtitled "The Best Of The Mothers," was released this week by Verve.
The group, led by Frank Zappa, are expected to arrive in Britain two or three days before the first show.
1969 June 7
The Truth Is – They're Not As Ugly As Their Pictures
By Chris Welch, p 11
An Explosion Of Non-Communication
By Chris Welch, p 11
FRANK Zappa and the Mothers of Invention took the aware youth of Britain by storm last week and – perhaps – made them just a bit more aware.
Within a few days of their arrival they upset a dozen preconceived ideas about their views and music.
Zappa took on students at the London School of Economics and found himself being lectured on student unrest. (read more)
1969 October 25
Mothers Split Up
The Mothers Are Dead, But Zappa's Still Very Much Alive
By Richard Williams, p 31
THE MOTHERS are dead. Killed by a public apathy towards a style of music which the rest of the world will catch up with maybe around 1975.
After Frank Zappa had announced that he and his loveable bunch of freaks were no longer together, the MM rang him at his Los Angeles home to ask about the reasons for the break-up.
" I don't like to say that we're breaking up – we're just not performing any more," he replied enigmatically.
"We're not getting across, and if we'd continued to progress at the rate we've been doing for the last year and a half, we wouldn't have any audience left at all.
"We were heading towards concert music – electronic chamber music. We performed it several times in America and had horrible reviews and an unpleasant audience response.
"The reviews we got were so simplistic, and I don't want to go on having to put up with all that bullshit. (read more)
Frank Zappa breezed into London last week in an orange tee-shirt. His aim was to launch the British end of his record label, Straight, who are to be distributed in this country by CBS. With him was the wondrous Captain Beefheart, star of one of Straight's first releases: the double-album "Trout Mask Replica." Braving Zappa's sharp and accurate wit, the amiable enigma that is Beefheart, and the full might of CBS's top brass, Melody Maker's RICHARD WILLIAMS spoke to both gentlemen. (read more)
1970 March 21
Hot Rats is hot stuff!
By Chris Welch, p 20
1970 April 11
IOW Bid For Zappa
Frank Zappa may re-form his original Mothers Of Invention group for this year's Isle of Wight festival.
festival organizer Ronald Foulk told the MM on Monday: "It is true that we have approached the Mothers to re-form for the Isle of Wight. We think they would be a very good act for the Festival this year."
No further details could be obtained at press time, but it is understood that, if Ronald Foulk cannot clinch the Mothers' booking, he would welcome the appearance of Zappa's new group, Hot Rats, whose first album was voted MM LP Of The Month.
Although plans for Zappa to perform at London's Royal Albert Hall this month have been postponed, he definitely plans to re-form his original Mothers of Invention for two concerts in the States.
They appear at new York's Fillmore East on May 8 – America's national Mother's Day. They also give a concert with a 100-piece orchestra at the University of California in Los Angeles on May 15.
They will perform Zappa's ballet "200 Motels," described as a "love triangle involving a boy, a girl and an industrial vacuum cleaner."
The line-up of Hot Rats includes British drummer Aynsley Dunbar, plus Zappa (lead guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Ian Underwood (keyboards and reeds) and Sugar Cane Harris (violin).
1970 May 23
Zappa For Britain
Joins Bath Festival, with Floyd
FRANK ZAPPA, leader of the famous Mothers Of Invention, is coming back to Britain! He has been booked for next month's mammoth Bath Festival – and he's bringing some of the original Mothers over with him.
Bath promoter Frederick Bannister clinched Zappa's appearance at the weekend. He's also added American rock outfit STEPPENWOLF and Britain's own JACK BRUCE and the PINK FLOYD to the impressive list of top American and British talent appearing on the weekend of June 27 and 28.
Bannister is also negotiating for Neil Young from the Crosby, Stills and Nash aggregation to appear.
Mothers coming with Zappa are Motorhead Sherwood (saxes), Ian Underwood (saxes and keyboards), Don Preston (keyboards) and Ray Collins (vocals). Completing Zappa's outfit is another new musician named Scalas.
Already appearing at Bath – as exclusively reported in MM last week – are Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter, Flock, Santana, It's A Beautiful Day, Byrds, Country Joe, Dr. John, Led Zeppelin, Fairport Convention, Colosseum, Keef Hartley, John Mayall, Moody Blues and the Maynard Ferguson big band.
1970 December 5
TELL ME, Mr. Zappa, what do you think of the critical reaction to your work over the past five years? Well, he said, writers write for two reasons: either they like writing or they need the money. “They make assumptions about my music which are far from reality.” (read more)
1971 February 6
1971 February 13
HIS Unique Hand Signals: I developed them in '67. It just occurred to me one day that, like, you're playing away and the rhythm section is dragging, so it's natural to reach over and beat time and speed 'em up, so you would take that and extrapolate on that. (read more)
1971 December 11
Mother's lose gear in fire
HIS ARMS AROUND a red-haired girl whose ample chest was covered with a Mighty Thor t-shirt, debonair Frank Zappa (32) sank deeper into the couch, flexed his bare bronzed torso, refused a Gitane ? "Too strong for me" ? and concentrated
his mind on the latest edition of the Mothers of Invention. (read more)
1972 September 2
Zappa At Oval
FRANK ZAPPA is to headline the rock concert at London’s Oval Cricket Ground on September 16. It will be Zappa’s first appearance in Britain since he was knocked from the stage of the Rainbow Theatre, London. last December. The fall resulted in Zappa breaking a leg and, at a subsequent court appearance, a man was jailed for assaulting the guitarist. As a result of the incident, three shows by Zappa arid the Mothers Of Invention, were cancelled. Zappa is anxious to play again in Britain following this and a separate incident — the Albert Hall ban which occurred earlier last year — to show he bears no ill-feeling towards Britain. It will be his only British concert during a quick visit to Europe. One show in Holland and another in Germany are also scheduled during the visit.
The Oval rock concert, promoted by Ron and Ray Foulk. will be run on similar lines to the Who/Faces event at the venue last year. There will be at least six other groups, mostly British, on the bill. The only difference will be that the entry is restricted to 15,000. Last year the crowd was estimated at well over 30,000 for the one-day event. Ticket prices will be £2 both from the usual agencies and on the door.
At press time it was not certain whether Zappa would be bringing the Mothers of Invention on this trip, or a reported new group called Hot Rats.
1972 September 16
YOU once said " I was never a hippie. Always a freak, but never a hippie." What made you a freak and not a hippie?
Because there is a generic difference. You see the origins of hippies as per "San Francisco flower power Haight Ashbury", is quite a different evolution from the Los Angeles "freak movement," of which I was a part and there was just a difference in the concept of it.
I was never a hippie. I never bought the flower power ethic. (read more)
The Mothers are on a North American tour, constantly being hassled for interviews now "Apostrophe" is making it big here, and Zappa is due to finish a TV special as soon as he gets back to LA.
Hectic or not, he was taking time out to think about his schedule for when all this was over – his European tour coming up in September. And that brought him onto the subject of England.
"Well," he recalled with a sigh, " sometimes it's fun, and sometimes you end up in hospital."
Apparently, he didn't rate the National Health Service. (read more)
"DO YOU u need any more from Chester? Have you got the tom-toms... They haven't got the tom-toms, Chester. Have you got any bass... HAVE YOU GOT ANY BASS ON THAT BOARD? No... THEN WHAT HAVE YOU GOT? "
Jeez, Zappa looks so peeved it makes you wince. He lays a really morose stare on the sound crew. One of his specials, reserved for unfortunate individuals who don't quite measure up to the moment, designed to reduce those individuals to total insignificance and cause them to wish they were well out of the line of fire. (read more)
That’s FZ I say, pointing to the guy with the gypsy hairdo, hook nose and the sneer of a mouth fringed by the drooping black moustache. Because Zappa’s in court – right now they’ve got him as far as the witness box – Estelle is convinced he’s up on some charge. "Is he gonna get the chair?" (read more)
FRANK ZAPPA – self-appointed master of the bizarre, musical innovator, puppeteer and chief iconoclast, has, out of necessity, created his own light in the form of the Mothers of Invention.
Though battered and bruised somewhat in his time, the scars do not show as he sits in the lobby of the Hotel Australia, hair clean and long, eyes healthily alert; maintaining, as always, an aristocratic coolness. (read more)
FRANK ZAPPA's hero, the French avant garde composer Edgar Varèse, once gave up composing for a quarter of a century because the New York musical establishment was giving him a hard time. Now, thanks to a dispute between Zappa and his record company Warner Brothers, it may be five or six years before any new Zappa records come into the shops.
But Zappa intends to continue composing, to carry on recording, even if the work never ever sees the light of day.
"I like to make music, you see," he explained. "I get my jollies from hearing what I write.
"I don't think Varèse did the right thing. I've never met the man, but everything I read about him led me to believe that he had a very strong, individualistic personality.
"And I think that not composing for 25 years means he took an awful lot of s--- from somebody and he shouldn't have done it. In 25 years he could have written a lot of works and his total catalogue isn't that big. I just wish there was more of it.
"I feel bad that America is the kind of place that forced that situation on a man like Varèse." (read more)
1993 December 18
Frank Zappa R.I.P.
By David Stubbs, pp 5