Frank Zappa died in 1993.
Composer, iconoclast, mainstream counter-cultural icon.
From Beginnings to Endings he maintained a concrete sense of his public persona.
See here one of his first public appearances in which he plays the bicycle on national television. It’s a long clip but it’s worth watching in its entirety. There are many things to be enjoyed – The patronizing host Steve Allen, the charming Zappa taking the artifice of television in his stride and some excellent bicycle musicianship.
In the interview he mentions that his first job is the composer of the score to the film The World’s Greatest Sinner. I include, for the sake of completeness, the trailer and also a musical sequence for that film.
Here is some of the music:
We rejoin Mr. Zappa several years later when this, now successful artist, appears on What’s My Line? Not as surreal as Salvador Dali’s appearance because Zappa was as much a part of the pop culture that he often critiqued, yet still a wonderful collision between the nominally “dangerous” world of rock music and the formal structures and polite exchanges of a light entertainment show.
Years later, here we can see him owning the Arena when he appears on the discussion show Crossfire:
This next clip is the one that started me on this current Zappa Journey. A rare glimpse of the truth of the music industry from one who had the eloquence and the experience to talk about it. Still relevant today, even as the Industry struggles to remain afloat in a world of piracy and self-starters.
Then finally, his final interview, talking about the composer Nicolas Slonimsky and how well dressed he was:
How many millions of moments existed between the ones that I happened to pick, pretty much at random, where he loved, cried, sang, lived, laughed?
A lot of moments.
A human life is so many things.
Let us not end sadly though. Let us end gladly and with this upbeat sentiment:
I hope that this gives you a flavour of the man and a desire to explore his work further.