C O M M E N T S
From: email@example.com (OnTheCornr)
...is 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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: email@example.com (Gregory J. Sandell)
According to Nigey's book...and I believe her...in 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
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 <email@example.com> :
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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." <email@example.com>
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
cities as well as Miami and, I think, Atlanta. I left the tour in New
on Oct.12 and the next stop was Toronto, followed by several other
venues, and then to Europe (and fire 'n chains)..."
From: Ken Walter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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: email@example.com (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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
- 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
And as with any fiction the only thing that's count is
- 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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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" <email@example.com>
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 http://www.nigeylennon.com