Frank Zappa in popular culture

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This is a list of tributes and references to the American composer, guitarist, singer, film director, and satirist, Frank Zappa.

Appearances in media[edit]

  • Zappa made an appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1963. This appearance featured Frank demonstrating the wide scope of percussion by playing the spokes of a spinning bicycle wheel with drum sticks.[1]
  • He made a cameo appearance in the 1968 film starring the Monkees, Head, with a talking cow. He also made a cameo appearance on an episode of the Monkees' TV series entitled "The Monkees Blow Their Minds" (air date: 3/11/68). Here, he was shown "playing" a car by beating it into submission. This is done in a Monkees-style montage to the Zappa song "Mother People" after being interviewed by Monkee Michael Nesmith. Zappa agreed to appear on the show provided he could "be" Nesmith; Nesmith, in turn, liked the idea, so long as he could "be" Zappa. The two wore cheap, exaggerated disguises and the interview was performed as if Mike was Frank and Frank was Mike, in a manner analogous to Ringo Starr's appearance as "Larry the Dwarf, dressed up like Frank Zappa" in 200 Motels.
  • He appeared on What's My Line? in 1971, during the show's syndicated run, as a mystery guest.
  • Zappa was the host and musical guest of a Season Four episode of Saturday Night Live in October 1978. His odd sense of humor and constant mugging to the camera once led Lorne Michaels to ban this episode.[citation needed] This, however, proved to be temporary as the Zappa episode has been rerun a few times on NBC. In the same show he portrayed Connie Conehead's date. He was also part of another skit, entitled "Night of Freak Mountain", in which Zappa met with a couple of hippies who offered various drugs to him, which he declined, stating "I don't do drugs." The hippies regarded his statement in awe and surprise. As part of the musical performance of "I'm the Slime" (on an earlier episode hosted by Candice Bergen), the transparent screen of a fake television monitor fills up with a slimy green goo.
  • He played Attilla the Hunchback in Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, in the episode titled "The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers" (1984).[citation needed]
  • He played drug dealer Mario Fuente in episode 19, "Payback" of the TV show Miami Vice first broadcast 14 March 1986.[citation needed]
  • Zappa was the voice of the Pope in the 1992 Ren and Stimpy episode "Powdered Toast Man".[citation needed]


Frank Zappa-statue by Vaclav Cesak in Bad Doberan
  • In 2008 a cast of Zappa was installed in Baltimore created by Konstantinas Bogdanas, the Lithuanian sculptor.
Frank Zappa Baltimore.jpg
  • In 1995 a cast of Zappa was installed in the center of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Zappa was immortalized by Konstantinas Bogdanas, the Lithuanian sculptor who had previously cast portraits of Vladimir Lenin.
  • In 2002, a bronze bust was installed in a square in Bad Doberan, a small town in the north of Germany, where, since 1990, there has been an annual international festival celebrating the music of Frank Zappa, the "Zappanale".[2]

Things named after Zappa[edit]

In the 1980s, biologist Ed Murdy named a genus of gobiid fishes of New Guinea Zappa after Zappa, stating that he liked "his music... his politics and principles" and that "the name itself is a good one for scientific nomenclature."[3]

Biologist Ferdinando Boero named a phialellid jellyfish Phialella zappai[4] in order to get the chance to meet the musician. A Zappa concert in Genoa focused largely on the jellyfish and on Dr. Boero. A small portion of this concert was released on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore: Vol. 6 as "Lonesome Cowboy Nando".[5] Zappa stated, "There is nothing I'd like better than to have a jellyfish named after me."[6]

Other species named after Zappa include a fossil snail named Amaurotoma zappa and the Cameroonese spider Pachygnatha zappa, so named because a marking on the female's ventral surface resembles the Zappa mustache.[7] A gene of the bacterium Proteus mirabilis that causes urinary tract infection is named zapA (others are named zapB through zapE).[8]

After his death, an internet campaign to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center led to an asteroid being named in his honor: 3834 Zappafrank, the asteroid having been discovered by Czech astronomers in 1980.[9][10]

  • A playable character from the video game Guilty Gear XX, Zappa, is named after Frank Zappa.
  • The main character of the 2013 video game Killer Is Dead, Mondo Zappa, is also named after Frank Zappa.
  • In late July, 2007, the city of Berlin, at the urging of the MUSIKFABRIK ORWOhaus (musicians community), renamed Street 13 in the Marzahn district (part of the former East Berlin) the "Frank-Zappa-Straße."[11]
  • "Frank Zappa and the Mothers" are mentioned in the lyrics of the well known Deep Purple track "Smoke on the Water", which is about the 1971 Montreux, Switzerland fire at a Zappa concert.
  • Gov't Mule recorded a song entitled "Left Coast Groovies (For FZ)", included on their debut album released in 1995. The introductory riff is followed by a voice in the background saying "what the fuck", a frequent expression of Zappa's. The song was often introduced in concert with a monologue about Zappa, concluding with the band telling audience members "If you don't like Frank Zappa, get the fuck out".


  1. ^ Slaven, 1996, Electric Don Quixote, pp. 35–36.
  2. ^ See Zappanale website.
  3. ^ Andy Murkin. "A fish called Zappa". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  4. ^ Phialella zappai
  5. ^ Román García Albertos. "Information Is Not Knowledge". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  6. ^ Andy Murkin. "Here's your jelly, Frank!". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  7. ^ Spider of Destiny
  8. ^ ZapA (Proteus mirabilis)
  9. ^ (03834) Minor Planet Name
  10. ^ Zappafrank
  11. ^ "Berlin Names Street After Frank Zappa"


  • Slaven, Neil (2003). Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story of Frank Zappa. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9436-6.