Frank Zappa

Musician + Songwriter + Composer + Conductor + Record Producer
Born Dec 21, 1940

Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, recording engineer, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, 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 The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Frank Zappa.


1940 Birth Born on December 21, 1940.
1950 9 Years Old Zappa grew up influenced by avant-garde composers such as Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern; 1950's blues artists Guitar Slim, Johnny Guitar Watson, and B.B. King; R&B and doo-wop groups (particularly local pachuco groups); and modern jazz. … Read More


1956 - 1957 2 More Events
1958 17 Years Old Zappa's interest in composing and arranging flourished in his last high-school years. By his final year, he was writing, arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra. He graduated from Antelope Valley High School in 1958, and later acknowledged two of his music teachers on the sleeve of the 1966 album Freak Out! … Read More
1959 18 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1959, he attended Chaffey College but left after one semester, and maintained thereafter a disdain for formal education, taking his children out of school at age 15 and refusing to pay for their college.
1960 19 Years Old Zappa was married to Kathryn J. "Kay" Sherman from 1960-64.


1963 22 Years Old 1 More Event
The latter soundtrack was recorded in 1963 after the film was completed, but it was commissioned by one of Zappa's former high school teachers in 1959 and Zappa may have worked on it before the film was shot. … Read More
1964 23 Years Old In 1964, after his marriage started to break up, he moved into the Pal studio and began routinely working 12 hours or more per day recording and experimenting with overdubbing and audio tape manipulation. … Read More
1965 24 Years Old 1 More Event
An article in the local press describing Zappa as "the Movie King of Cucamonga" prompted the local police to suspect that he was making pornographic films. In March 1965, Zappa was approached by a vice squad undercover officer, and accepted an offer of $100 to produce a suggestive audio tape for an alleged stag party. … Read More
1966 25 Years Old …  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. … Read More
…  In a surviving 1967 radio interview, Zappa explained that the album's outlandish 11-minute closing track, "Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" was in fact an unfinished piece. … Read More
1968 27 Years Old Zappa and the Mothers of Invention returned to Los Angeles in the summer of 1968, and the Zappas moved into a house on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, only to move again to one on Woodrow Wilson Drive in the autumn. … Read More
1969 28 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1969 there were nine band members and Zappa was supporting the group himself from his publishing royalties whether they played or not. 1969 was also the year Zappa, fed up with MGM Records' interference, left them for Warner Bros. … Read More
1970 29 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1970 Zappa met conductor Zubin Mehta. … Read More


1971 - 1976 7 More Events
1978 37 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1978, Zappa served both as host and musical act on the show, and as an actor in various sketches. … Read More
1979 38 Years Old 1 More Event
Resolving the lawsuits successfully, Zappa ended the 1970s "stronger than ever", by releasing two of his most successful albums in 1979: the best selling album of his career, Sheik Yerbouti, and in Kelley Lowe's opinion the "bona fide masterpiece", Joe's Garage. … Read More
In 1980, Zappa cut his ties with Mercury Records after the label refused to release his song "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted". … Read More


1981 - 1982 2 More Events
In 1984 Zappa teamed again with Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra for a live performance of A Zappa Affair with augmented orchestra, life-size puppets, and moving stage sets. … Read More
1985 44 Years Old On September 19, 1985, Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC, a music organization co-founded by Tipper Gore, wife of then-senator Al Gore. … Read More
1986 45 Years Old 1 More Event
Around 1986, Zappa undertook a comprehensive re-release program of his earlier vinyl recordings. … Read More
1988 47 Years Old Zappa's last tour in a rock and jazz band format took place in 1988 with a 12-piece group which had a repertoire of over 100 (mostly Zappa) compositions, but which split under acrimonious circumstances before the tour was completed. … Read More
1990 49 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1990, Zappa was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. … Read More


1991 50 Years Old In 1991, Zappa was chosen to be one of four featured composers at the Frankfurt Festival in 1992 (the others were John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Alexander Knaifel). … Read More
In September 1992, the concerts went ahead as scheduled, but Zappa could only appear at two in Frankfurt due to illness.
1993 52 Years Old 1 More Event
Zappa died on December 4, 1993, in his home with his wife and children by his side. … Read More
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