Barking Pumpkin Records

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Barking Pumpkin Records is an independent record label based in California that specialized in mail order releases. The label was founded in 1981 by Frank Zappa.


After leaving Warner Bros. Records, Zappa founded the label Zappa Records in 1977, and formed a deal with Phonogram Records, which distributed the label's releases in the United States.[1] Its first release was the live album Sheik Yerbouti, followed by the dystopian rock opera Joe's Garage.[1] After Phonogram refused to release the single "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted", which criticized Jimmy Carter's reintroduction of the military draft,[1] Zappa founded Barking Pumpkin. After spending most of 1980 on the road, Zappa released Tinsel Town Rebellion in 1981, his first release on Barking Pumpkin.[2] The label specialized in mail order releases.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The label was initially distributed by CBS Records.[9] In 1984, Barking Pumpkin prepared to release the album Thing-Fish and MCA produced a test pressing.[10][11] However, MCA later withdrew their distribution after a woman in their quality control department became offended and upset by the album's content.[11] A deal was quickly made with EMI Records, which would allow Them Or Us and Thing-Fish to be distributed by Capitol Records in the United States.[10][11] Zappa wrote a "warning" which appeared on the inner sleeves of these albums, as well as Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention, which stated that the albums contained content "which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress", and a "guarantee" which stated that the lyrics would not "cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business."[10][11]

Dweezil Zappa released his debut album Havin' a Bad Day on Barking Pumpkin in 1986. After an album on another label, he released Confessions on Barking Pumpkin in 1991, and formed the group Z, with Ahmet Zappa, releasing Shampoohorn on Barking Pumpkin.

Two compilations, Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute and Quaudiophiliac, were released posthumously by Barking Pumpkin in 1996 and 2004, along with the previously unreleased album Everything Is Healing Nicely in 1999.

In 2012, the Zappa Family Trust regained control of Frank Zappa's recorded music catalogue and made a distribution arrangement with Universal Music Enterprises to reissue the Zappa catalogue on the Zappa and Barking Pumpkin labels.[12]


Artist Year(s) signed Albums released on Barking Pumpkin Notes
Frank Zappa  — 21 Died December 4, 1993 (aged 52), due to prostate cancer.
Dweezil Zappa 1986–1988; 1991–1994 2 Son of Frank Zappa. Has since released albums on Chrysalis, Favored Nations and Zappa Records.
Z 1994 1 Consists of Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa, sons of Frank Zappa. Released one more album on Zappa Records.


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