Bunk Gardner

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Bunk Gardner
The Mothers of Invention (1968).jpg
Bunk Gardner (down right) w. Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention (1968)
Background information
Birth nameJohn Leon Guarnera
Born (1933-05-02) May 2, 1933 (age 86)
Cleveland, Ohio
InstrumentsFlute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone
Associated actsThe Mothers of Invention

John Leon Guarnera, professionally known as "Bunk" Gardner (born May 2, 1933, Cleveland, Ohio, United States) is an American musician who most notably played for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention until the group disbanded in 1969. He plays woodwinds and tenor sax.


Gardner started playing music at the age of seven by taking piano lessons. When he was a teenager he started playing the tenor sax. In 1959 he played with Bud Wattles & his Orchestra's album Themes from the Hip. Later he played with Joanna & the Playboys in 1962. By late 1966 Gardner had joined Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, playing woodwinds and tenor sax. The Mothers found success, with Absolutely Free and We're Only in It for the Money entering the charts. In late 1968 his brother Buzz Gardner joined the Mothers, staying until the group disbanded a year later. Gardner played with Menage A Trois with Buzz and John Balkin. Later he recorded with Geronimo Black and the Grandmothers.

In 1980 Gardner and other members from the Mothers of Invention reunited to form the Grandmothers, recording a few albums and reuniting again in 2002. Gardner has done a few projects with Don Preston, a member of the Mothers, making a few albums and touring with him.

Gardner also plays flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, and bass and soprano saxes.

Don Preston remains Gardners' close friend. In 2010 he recorded Gardner's autobiography (audiobook) "The Bunk Gardner Story" (featuring Don Preston), in Arthur Barrow's lotek studio, produced by Jon Larsen for Zonic Entertainment.

Personal life[edit]

Gardner married his wife Bonnie in 1977; the couple have two daughters.


With Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention[edit]

With The Grandmothers[edit]

  • The Grandmothers (1981)
  • Fan Club Talk (1981)
  • Lookin Up Granny's Dress (1983)
  • A Mother of Anthology (1993)
  • Who Could Imagine? (1994)
  • Eating The Astoria (2000)

With Geronimo Black[edit]

Bunk Gardner solo releases[edit]