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Frank Zappa Biography

Prabhakar Pillai May 13, 2019
Frank Zappa was a famous musician and composer, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Read on to know more about his life...
Francis Vincent Zappa, Jr., was born on December 21,1940, in Baltimore. His father was Francis Vincent, a metallurgist and meteorologist. His mother was Rose Marie, a librarian. He became interested in music quite early in his life. At the age of twelve, he started learning orchestral percussion.
He had a six-month stint at Chaffey College in Alta Loma, California. In the early sixties, he played at nightclubs and bars. He produced music for a couple of low-budget films, like The World's Greatest Sinner. In 1964, he joined a band known as the Soul Giants. After bagging a record contract, the Soul Giants renamed themselves as the Mothers of Invention.
They recorded the double album 'Freak Out', which was released in 1966. Zappa satired on the 1960s' hippie movement, especially in the 1968 album 'We're Only in It for the Money'. In the 1970s, he continued producing music with various artists. He also began developing solo works.
In 1970, he reassembled a new edition of the Mothers, with former Turtles lead singers Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan as frontmen. The lineup moved the group more in the direction of X-rated comedy, particularly on the live album 'Fillmore East - June 1971'.
During a performance at the Rainbow Theatre in London, Zappa was pushed from the stage by a delirious fan, and was seriously injured. While he recovered, he released several albums, re-established the Mothers with himself as lead singer, and made pop/rock albums such as 'Over-nite Sensation', which ranked among his best-selling records ever.
By the end of the '70s, he was recording on his own labels. He had attracted a consistent cult following for both his humor and his complex music. Between 1970 and 1971, he released 'Chunga's revenge' and his double album soundtrack to the film '200 Motels'.
In 1972, he released two Jazz-oriented singles―'Waka/Jawaka' and 'The Grand Wazoo'. His first movie, Baby Snakes, premiered on December 21, 1979. He got a Grammy award nomination for best rock instrumental in 1979 for 'Rat Tomago'. In 1979 he released his masterpiece double album, 'Joe's Garage'. It was released on his own label, Zappa Records.
In 1980, he released 'Tinseltown Rebellion', a mixture of complex instrumentals. In 1981, he released three instrumental albums―'Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar', 'Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar Some More', and 'The Return of the Son of Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar'. In 1987, he won a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, for the album Jazz From Hell.

Personal Life

He married Kathryn 'Kay' Sherman in 1960. They divorced in 1964. In 1967, he married Adelaide Gail Sloatman. They had four children―Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
In 1991 it was revealed that he was afflicted with cancer. He died in December 1993 of prostate cancer. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.