Frank Zappa

(1940—1993) American rock singer, musician, and songwriter

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b. Frank Vincent Zappa, 21 December 1940, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, d. 4 December 1993, Los Angeles, California, USA. Zappa’s parents were second-generation Sicilian Greeks; his father played ‘strolling crooner’ guitar. At the age of 12 Frank, who had relocated to California with his family, became interested in drums, learning orchestral percussion at summer school in Monterey. He played drums in a local R&B band called the Ramblers, and after moving to Lancaster formed the racially-integrated Black-Outs. Early exposure to a record of Ionisation by avant garde classical composer Edgard Varèse instilled an interest in advanced rhythmic experimentation that never left him. The electric guitar also became a fascination, and he began collecting R&B records that featured guitar solos: Howlin’ Wolf with Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown were special favourites. A school friend, Don Vliet (later to become Captain Beefheart), shared his interest.


From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.

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