I first heard Frank Zappa’s music way back when I was about 16 years old. A true musical innovator, his band the Mothers Of Invention just really turned my head, so to speak. A Quincy store had many of his early albums in cut-out bins and I bought them for little money. Zappa gathered together a really fine team of musicians in the LA area; his horn players were great,including Ian Underwood,and Ruth Underwood on the xylophone and other instruments was stellar.
Here’s an example:
“Holiday In Berlin”
There is an Erik Satie influence towards the end of the piece, I think. Take notice of the meter changes in the track; it wasn’t some off-the-cuff improvisation, but a very composed and worked-out piece of music. Also notice the tone of Zappa’s guitar; Frank Zappa was one of the few electric guitarists to make effective musical use of the wah-wah pedal; he was a devotee and heir of Jimi Hendrix.
Before he died Frank Zappa got involved in politics, testifying before Congress in defense of free speech. I’m right with him; here’s an interesting Crossfire episode during which Zappa crossed swords with an annoying Washington Post writer named John Loftus. Loftus was promoting more governmental control, while Zappa was defending the idea that people can choose for themselves. Loftus was fired from the Fox Network some years ago; quite an honor! The show was back in 1987: