Available on Amazon.com I've just read Frank Zappa: The Biography by Barry Miles. It's a detailed book on 380 pages about virtually every year of Frank Zappa's life. From his parents to his death.

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.

Bg Porter - 30 October 2009 [«« Reply to this]
I think you mean '20th century music history'.
Peter Bengtsson - 31 October 2009 [«« Reply to this]
Oops. My bad.
Michael Casey - 09 November 2009 [«« Reply to this]
Check out inca roads on youtube - the one with what looks like high school aged players (vibraphone and a true to one size fits all vocal rendirion)
We're Turning Again is also my other favorites. They're all my favorite.
And, yes I must read the books.
Robert Bobo - 30 January 2010 [«« Reply to this]
I am 1/2 way through the book, and I agree it is packed with facts and very interesting details. But, I must say, That while I am a huge Zappa Fan; the more I Read, the less I like him as a person.
Musically, Zappa Was A Genius Of The First Degree. Personally, he seems to have been a real Schmuck. His Wife Gail is Kind Of Proof Of That. He Screwed around on her with teenage groupies while she was pregnant whit his first child. I Love The Music, But have reservations about Zappa The Man.
Robert Bobo - 30 January 2010 [«« Reply to this]
I am 1/2 way through the book, and I agree it is packed with facts and very interesting details. But, I must say, That while I am a huge Zappa Fan; the more I Read, the less I like him as a person.
Musically, Zappa Was A Genius Of The First Degree. Personally, he seems to have been a real Schmuck. His Wife Gail is Kind Of Proof Of That. He Screwed around on her with teenage groupies while she was pregnant with his first child. I Love The Music, But have reservations about Zappa The Man.
Mark Fraser - 29 April 2012 [«« Reply to this]
I thought Miles was a little tough on We're Turning Again, even if it was not one of FZ's better tunes. While the author suggests that he poo poos on everyone from the sixties - from Janis Joplin (who he purportedly screwed) and Jim Morrison to Keith Moon (who had a part in 200 Motels) - the closing lyrics indicate something else:

"Everybody come back - no one can do it like you used to.
If you listen to the radio and what they play today, you can tell right away all those arseholes really need you."

In his autobiography FZ berates nostalga. But in this song, which came out at the end of 1985 on FZ Meets the Mothers of Prevention, he seems to be exposing a slight (albeit cynical) nostalgic streak by suggesting that the musical stuff coming out in the second half of the 60s was way better than the mid 1980s muck.

Even if I'm wrong, it highlights the contradiction that was Zappa. Sure he had high standards, but after reading Miles' book it becomes apparent that some of these standards were profoundly double edged.
Anonymous - 06 February 2013 [«« Reply to this]
As Frank would say...don't believe all the garbage that is written down. Barry Miles is entitled to his own interpetation of the meaning of any peticular song. Does that mean it's correct? He has alot of his own interpetations and Ideas of what may have been in Franks head, but he has many obvious errors in real facts from the beginning to the end of his "book". Frank was human even if he himself didn't want to in that classification. He is one of the most interesting and musically talented artists that I know of...just as much as he was disturbed and alienated to the "norm" of society and the human race. He could see humour and make us laugh at our stupid selves and maybe even provoke us to try and change. He did it his way and I love him for what contributed. But as he said after he knew he was dying soon....."it's not neccessary to be remembered at all". That says it all. Nobody but Frank. The Best.


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