Portal:Frank Zappa

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Frank Vincent Zappa (/ˈzæpə/; December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.

In his teens, he acquired a taste for percussion-based avant-garde composers such as Edgard Varèse and 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands—he later switched to electric guitar. He was a self-taught composer and performer, and his diverse musical influences led him to create music that was often impossible to categorize. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. He wrote the lyrics to all his songs, which—often humorously—reflected his iconoclastic view of established social and political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship.

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The Mothers of Invention was an American band active from 1964 to 1975. They mainly performed works by and were the original recording group of US composer and guitarist Frank Zappa (1940-1993), although other members have had occasional writing credit. The band's first album, in 1966, was a double LP named Freak Out!, In 1969, Zappa disbanded the original group. In 1970, Zappa created a new group under the same name. In that same year, Zappa did an ambitious concept film/album project 200 Motels, but the group disbanded in late 1971 after Zappa was attacked onstage during a London concert. In the 1970s, Zappa released albums as "Zappa/Mothers" (Roxy & Elsewhere, 1974) or "Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention" (One Size Fits All, 1975) until he permanently dropped the "Mothers of Invention" moniker in 1976.

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"Billy the Mountain" is a Frank Zappa song, first made available on the album Just Another Band from L.A. in 1972. The original recording of this song, which took a complete half-hour to perform, was from a live tour performance on August 7, 1971 in Los Angeles during the Flo & Eddie days of Frank Zappa's band. The album recording had to be reduced to 24 minutes and 47 seconds in order to fit on one side. An alternate recording of the song was featured on the 1992 album Playground Psychotics.

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Fillmore East LIVE was a live concept-like album. It was a quick peek behind the curtain of the life of a rock band on the road as narrated by Frank Zappa, and contains many thematic elements that, because of time and budget constraints, couldn't be included on the similar movie 200 Motels. The most famous part of the album is "The Mud Shark", a telling of a story told to Mother Don Preston by some members of Vanilla Fudge about a hotel, Seattle's Edgewater Inn, where guests could fish from their rooms.

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Frank and Gail Zappa, in their Hollywood Hills home, 1988


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