"Frank Zappa: The Biography" by Barry Miles
30 October 2009
I'm a huge Frank Zappa fan and have been for more than a decade. It's probably the most listened to artist ever in my life in terms of number of listened to songs. Actually not probably; definitely. I adore his music and his personality and this is the second book I read about him. The other book I read was Real Frank Zappa Book written by Peter Occhiogrosso based on biography interviews with Frank for the purpose of writing this book. That book was much more bland and emphasized particularly his early political work and also very much emphasizes on his work as a orchestral conductor/business man.
The detail work in this book is really fantastic. It's thanks to Barry's in-depth understanding of music and the music industry that you get deep down to the nitty-gritty details of Zappa's work. As always with books like this, it's not till you read about the lyrics that you fully understand the lyrics even if you have listened to them many a times. Some of these lyrics I'm actually kind of sad to have understood now as of reading about them in this book. For example, I now understand that the song We're Turning Again which is an up-yours to his old band members Mothers of Invention.
If anything bad can be said about the book it's that it sort of ends on a bad note (no pun intended), as it ends on the sad last few years when Frank was really sick and up to the point of his death. And also, I would have liked to find out more about Barry's own personal relationship with Frank because he couldn't possibly have written this book had he not admired the guy too.
There is no doubt in my mind that Frank Zappa is one of the most innovative and inspirational characters in twentieth-century music history. And probably show-biz too for that matter. Even though the book reveals some truths about Frank as a bit of "douche bag" I'm still firmly one of his biggest fans. If you wanna find out more about Frank Zappa this is most like the book to get.
Following is an extract from a quoted interview by Gail Sloatman who later became Gail Zappa:
"And I remember thinking, Oh my God! Here's this guy, I think he's extraordinary, it's such a different sensation! I know he hasn't taken a bath in four months and his moustache smells like peanut butter..."
She sums it up nicely in her own very personal words so well. There is something amazing about this guy beyond the less appealing facade.