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Being Frank. My Time with Frank Zappa. Lennon, Nigey.
California Classics Books, Los Angeles
ISBN: 1-879395-55-X
Pages: 154
Language: English Category: About


From: (OnTheCornr) the memoir of a woman who claims that as a teenager she was FZ's lover and even toured as a part-time member of the Mothers in 1971. Not much real info on Frank here, the veracity of the whole affair (so to speak) has been hotly debated on this board [aff-z], and it's a real short book--you can get through it in an hour or two.

From: Charles Ulrich <>
  According to her book, Nigey Lennon toured with Zappa in 1971 as sort of an understudy guitarist and sexual partner. She played on stage a few times during this tour. She hung around rehearsals for Grand Wazoo, Apostrophe ('), and Over-Nite Sensation. She had a falling-out with FZ during the One Size Fits All era. She says that the songs "Andy" and "Muffin Man" are addressed to her, with the title character of the latter being Ray Collins.
  Nigey Lennon says she wrote and sang the backing vocal lines to "Dirty Love", but that she sounded too white, so they were re-recorded by "Mrs. Ex-Big R&B Singer". She never reveals this singer's name, but she does mention that "A few years later, Mrs. Ex-Big R&B Singer left her husband, struck out on her own, and became a household name singing Top 40 pop. A feature film was even made about her life and struggles."
  Let's see, who could it be? She also writes about "Mr. Dip", whom I assume is Ricky Lancelotti. One case where she provides a name that FZ omitted is when she reveals that Ray Collins was the Mother who said that Zappa should go to Big Sur and take acid with someone who believes in God.
  I was fairly skeptical when I started reading the book. "How come I've never heard of her before?" But by the end I figured she must be real. While I'd take some of what she says with a grain of salt, that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. (The same goes for Watson's Negative Dialects of Poodle Play.) It's nice to read something by someone who knew FZ personally, though inevitably it suffers to a certain degree from the "He was great when I knew him, but he was never as good afterwards" syndrome. (The opposite, of course, is the "Everything he ever did was flawless" fan mentality.) I just wish someone would write a book who was still on good terms with FZ until the end. Did I read somewhere that Matt Groening was working on a book?

From: (Gregory J. Sandell)
  According to Nigey's book...and I believe 1970 or so she was a Zappa-struck 16-year old who boldly approached Zappa to produce her music. Zappa was apparantly intrigued by the lass, either sexually or musically or personally (or a mixture of all three) and eventually invited her to be an understudy musician for the Mothers (i.e. to stand in if someone was too stoned to play) for a particular tour. On this tour she became Zappa's mistress/girlfriend. They also remained friends and were occasionally intimite for some years after.
  The detail on hidden aspects of Zappa's personality, sexual life, and most interestingly, seduction technique, are given an unprecedented exposition...nothing I've ever read before goes into this stuff. It's written all lovingly and respectfully, I think (although still not enough to keep Zappa's widow from getting pissed off, I'm guessing). She's a hell of a good writer, too. Perhaps her style and expressions are a bit
pretty well. Most importantly, she is a musician herself with enough background to talk very effectively about the nature of Zappa's musical genious.

From: (Gregory J. Sandell)
  Nigey's book is written respectfully and has the insight of a musician who really understands the genius of Zappa's music. Okay, sure, there's a slightly prurient flavor to the few passages that describe the moments of intimacy. But Nigey's aim is not sensationalism.
  One thing I really like about the book is its candidness and intelligence. It does not sink into blind fan worship and follow some "company line" of presenting the status quo image of Zappa (as in Victor Bokris' book on Keith Richards). Anyone who was a fan of Zappa's in the early 70's will recognize that stamp of authenticity in her description of the scene at that time. Admittedly there's not much in there for those readers who admire Zappa's later period (say post 1980) primarily, since the book covers only the period of the seventies and the author has a preference for Zappa's music of that period. There are few fans out there, I think, who fully appreciate the totality of Zappa's output, so the book should not be dismissed on that basis.
  Being a Zappa fan in the early 70's was a statement in itself; to openly like Zappa's music really set you apart as a non-conformist and made you a little odd. Nigey's book really captures that feeling dead-on, I think. What's more, she writes extremely well.
  So, while I honor your right to think of Nigey's book as an "ugly kiss and tell book", I'm surprised that that's all you see in it.

From: Charles Ulrich <> :
  After Nigey Lennon's book Being Frank was published, several posters expressed skepticism about her identity and her relationship with Frank. I professed faith in most of her claims, and John Scialli verified that she really did have untorn ticket stubs from the Mothers concert allegedly dedicated to her.
  Anyway, today I asked Ray Collins about her. He remembers her. He knew of the book but hadn't read it yet. He imagined (wrongly) that the book goes into sensationalistic details of their (NL & FZ's) physical relationship. So I don't think there can be any doubt that Nigey Lennon was involved with FZ in more or less the way she claims to have been. Whether "Andy" is about her or not remains open to debate.

From: Doug Grose <>
 Date: Wed, 02 Apr 1997 06:40:05 -0500
 I asked Howard Kaylan what he... ....
 On the subject of Nigey he said that he vaguely remembers her, but not in the context of a musician. He does not remember her ever being on stage with The Mothers and that her connection with Zappa was more social than musical.

From: "Andrew Fignar Jr." <>
 I have talked to her, and she told me the venues, so this is incorrect.
August 25, Community Theater, Berkeley
August 26, Convention Center (?), Seattle
August 27 or 28, Spokane
August 30, Seattle
September 1 or 2, Portland
October 1, Memorial Auditorium, Sacremento

 "In addition "The Tour also hit Chicago and Denver, and a few more midwest cities as well as Miami and, I think, Atlanta. I left the tour in New York on Oct.12 and the next stop was Toronto, followed by several other Canadian venues, and then to Europe (and fire 'n chains)..."

From: Ken Walter <>
 I was at a Carnegie Hall concert in October, 1971. The band was the same as "Just Another Band From LA" and the 1971 European tour (the one with the fire and Zappa getting thrown off the stage). I remember it well because it was my first teenage rock and roll show. Frank came out and the first thing he said was, "Carnegie Hall! What the fuck are we doing here?" The band played lots of stuff from 200 Motels and the various live albums and boots from the Flo and Eddie years. Great show.
 And Mark Volman played rhythm guitar.
 The lead-on act was the Persuasions, who were on Straight at the time. I don't remember any dedication, but I was sixteen at the time.

From: (Biffyshrew)
 If you doubt that Nigey, er, CONSORTED with FZ, doubt no more. Several FZ associates who were around at the time have confirmed that much of her story. However, her book IS riddled with suspicious inaccuracies, and the part about her actually playing onstage as part of the Mothers is bullshit, at least according to one of the 1971 band members (who, incidentally, has not read the book, but did remember Nigey putting on a backstage "show" with a shoe...he said she was really a very intelligent person and wondered why she debased herself like that).
  Make no mistake: I'm convinced that Lennon WAS around and she DID have a personal/sexual relationship with Zappa. But I *suspect* that her book greatly exaggerates her *musical* relationship with FZ.

From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  I think you're basically right, Biffy. I only want to add one technical detail about truth. Well, let anyone of you who accused Nigey, try to do the simple test.
  Sit and write about something that happened with you fifteen or twenty years ago. After you made your best show the story to people with whom you parted that experience and I'm sure 9 against 1 that the common reaction would be

  - God, you put EVERYTHING wrong, buddy.

  It's just a way the memory works. So without diaries, letters, long cross-inteviews with the witnesses (and often very unpleasent discoveries:-)) etc all you could produce would be sort of FICTION no matter what your real intentions were.
  And as with any fiction the only thing that's count is

- style
- emotions authenticity

  I would give Nigey A+ for both. And if you want something else, well take Walley, Slaven, and if you could filter Carlo-Marlo prols shit as easy as me Watson is also one of the best.

From: (Tom Tuerff)
 I have the book. She's apparently legit, since Don Preston has said (in the Zappa Folder on AOL) that he remembers her being around.
 If I remember correctly, Zappa ostensibly hired her as a substitute guitarist in the event that one of the other band members (Mark Volman, I guess) was ever too stoned to play. She never says in the book that she actually got on stage with them, I don't think (it's been at least a year since i read the book)
 It's fairly common knowledge now that the girls singing on "Overnite Sensation" were Tina Turner and the Ikettes. Why Nigey doesn't mention them by name baffles me. The girls remained anonymous on the album because Ike Turner hated the songs and didn't want to be associated with them. Now he's playing gigs in casinos in New Mexico. Serves him right.
 >Why did FZ make no mention of her in TRFZB?
 Zappa makes almost no mention of any aspect of his personal life in that book, except in very general terms.
 Personally, I thought the book (Nigey's) needed to go through the typewriter one more time. It raises as many questions as it answers and is confusing in parts. And I really don't understand why she attempts to hide the identity of a lot of the people in the book, yet she talks about others with little regard to what they might think.
 When Nigey's writing about someone other than herself, she's actually pretty good. She wrote a decent book about Mark Twain.

From: (Gregory J. Sandell)
Her complete list of book publications is:

Mark Twain in California (1982, Chronicle Books)

Alfred Jarry: The Man with the Axe (illustrated by Bill Griffith)
(1984, Panjandrum Books; reprinted 1990, Last Gasp)

Bread and Hyacinths: The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles (with
Paul Greenstein and Lionel Rolfe) (1992, California Classics Books)

The Sagebrush Bohemian: Mark Twain in California (Paragon House,
1990; paperback published 1993, Marlowe and Co.)

Being Frank: My Time with Frank Zappa (California Classics Books, 1995)

From: "David G. Walley" <>
 for whatever it's worth to this discussion, I have a copy of the piece that Nigey did with the Mothers called "Statement of Earnings" recorded August 18, 1972. It's real, it's ragged, and it's the real item.

Reviews from The Wire(UK) December 1996 #154, p.68 by BEN WATSON!! ( on Being Frank: My Time With Nigey Lennon
  "Nigey Lennon, on the other hand, has plenty to say. There might not be definitive books, but there are certainly irreplaceable ones, which is the word to describe Being Frank. Nigey Lennon is a guitarist, songwriter and composer, and still keeps the Los Angeles freak flame burning. She had an affair with Zappa in the early 70s and toured with The Mothers. She looks like Joan Jett, and her memoir is both spiky and musically literate. Her descriptions of rehearsals got the heart of Zappa's freaky West Coast arranging the bizarre eclecticism and the strange purple power. Lennon's previous books were on Mark Twain and Alfred Jarry which indicates the kind of cultural perspective required to get a grip on Zappa, something brighter than rock-journo pedantry."

From: Vladimir Sovetov
  Mea culpa. I should put it here much earlier, I mean at last this (2001) February or March but it's better to be late than never do it at all.
  So Ms. Nigey Lennon, released at last the CD of her own music - Reinventing The Wheel. And three songs of the total 15 on the aforementioned artifact were sung by Frank's own youngest sister Patricia 'Candy' Zappa, Any Way The Wind Blows including. That's right, you heard it right. Patricia 'Candy' Zappa!
  All details can be found here

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