C O M M E N T S
From: email@example.com (David Smith)
1. Let's Make The Water Turn Black: 11
Zappa's Childhood & Adolescence In
2. We Got This Car, When It Hits The Wall: 36
Early Attempts At Self-Promotion,
Selling Jingles & Earning Money From Music
3. Goodnight Ruben & the Jets: 52
The Metamorphosis Into The Mothers Of Invention
4. Freak Out/Overnight Sensation: 73
Into The International Rock Scene, Smelling
Bad And Armed With Vegatables
5. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?/ 103
Would You Go All the Way?:
More Of The Frank Zappa
& The Mothers Chronology
6. Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget 136
Orchestra/The Duke Loses And Regains His Chops:
The End Of The Frank Zappa
& The Mothers Chronology
7. None Of The Above/The Ocean Is The 171
The S.S. Zappa Sails Alone
8. Pedro's Dowry/The March To Dupree's Paradise: 188
Orchestral Favorites, Porn Wars & The End
Of The Road
9. You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore?: 211
More Trouble Every Day, Bamboozled By Love
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Markus Ringner)
There's a new edition from 92 or 93 with a couple of extra pages and a
picture from a Yellow Shark performance.
From: email@example.com (David Smith)
"Revised and updated 1994"
Plexus Publishing Ltd.
256 pages, including index
_Mother!_ includes many stories, anecdotes (many of which have been questioned
by others in this newsgroup) and photos that I haven't seen elsewhere.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Caj Zell)
It is a *critical* biography, so towards the end the author lets you know
that he's not enirely happy with how FZ treats his friends and relatives.
Though I'm not the kind of guy that supports everything FZ have said and done,
I do not agree with Gray on this point (at least not on his comments on
Zappa's treatment of his wife). I think that two persons emotional
relationship should not be judged by people outside this relationship as long
as there is no risk of physical/ psychological harm (which is hard to imagine
in this case).(What's your professional opinion, John S.?)
Ehummmm......back to the book. Well, I definitely consider it worth reading.
I haven't found any other *straight* biography on Zappa.
From: email@example.com (John V. Scialli)
Good point about judging relationships. Sounds like this guy got dissed by
Zappa and decided to dump on him in the book. Regarding Frank being
emotionally retarded, we all know (and love and depend on the fact that) Frank
was a nerd. So what? Ringo Starr said he was the nicest person in show biz.
This also points out that Frank was afterall an actor playing the part of an
aloof eccentric. I bet Diva sees him differently but her view is not
newsworthy so who would include it in a unauthorized bibliog-rape?
Michael Gray's Mother! The Frank Zappa Story is a piece of shit. I can't
believe how bad it is. As an example: "For eldest son Dweezil, being his own
person has meant growing up to be just like dad. Not only a
rock-musician/composer: that would be no more nor less understandable than if
he'd become a sociology professor. But Dweezil Zappa is a
rock-musician/composer who plays lead guitar, who records with his dad's
musos, who got his father to produce the debut album that should have been
saying, 'This is me!', and who gives his own songs titles that sound like
no-one else in the world but his father. If your Frank Zappa Junior, there's
not much idependent spirit about calling your songs 'You Can't Judge A Girl
By The Panties She Wears' and (the admittedly canny) 'I Can't Fuck Without
Falling In Love'" (Page 236). Gray somehow concludes that Dweezil's choice
to become a musician like his father was forced upon him by his father. If
Gray had done any serious work for this book, he would have discovered that
Dweezil was very much interested in becoming a professional baseball player
until High School (I forget why he changed his mind).
The whole conclusion of the book is that Zappa was a complete control
freak with no friends and a wife who didn't like him very much (this is based
on a single interview Gail gave to Victoria Balfour): "The only kind of freak
Frank Zappa ever was was a control-freak" (Page 239). This might be true to
a certain extent, but I also know that Frank liked his musicians to put their
own personal stamp on his music and that he encouraged them to bring out their
own musical personality. To base an entire conclusion of a book on one
interview that Gail gave is bad scholarship (if he based it on other sources
there is no indication). Which brings up another interesting feature about
this book, Gray never footnotes anything. Even though he uses extensive
quotes throughout the book, you can never check his sources because he doesn't
Why does Frank have to suffer from such shabby scholarship? If I had the
time I would like to research and write a bio myself, but I guess this will
have to wait until I get my PhD.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anders Uhl Pedersen)
How about this: On page 94 Gail and FZ's wedding at the New York City Hall
is described and the paragraph ends thusly: "The proceedings were rushed
through just before closing-time by an official who punched in their card on
a time-clock sitting on top of what Zappa decribed as 'a cheesoid Formica
replica-pulprit'. Two days later, Moon Unit was born."
Hmm. I thought I read in The *REAL* FZ Book that he was in Europe when she
was born... I continued to struggle my way through this here book and on page
100 it says: "Next day, The Mothers and the entourage flew on to Copenhagen
while Tom Wilson and Zappa darted out for a brief visit to Italy, to
investigate the possiblilty of being commissioned to write the music for
Vadim's movie, Barbarella. Frank flew back to Copenhagen for the third European
After that concert, news came through from New York that Gail had given
birth." I might have misunderstood something, but this would make Gail a
pretty special woman since the time span between the time that "Moon Unit was
born" and the time she "gives birth" again is a great deal below 9 months.
But, obviously, when Moon was born was probably not a very significant event
in Frank's life, so why worry about when it was?
So much for accuracy...
From: email@example.com (Jeff Olson)
I thought this was an informative book that went into a lot of detail about
Franks' early career. It spent a little too much time talking about the
legendary suzie creamcheese but I found it a good source of information on
Franks' early life and times. It also gave some insight into the loyalty of
the musicians in the bands to Frank, and some insight into the break-up of
the '88 band (or '84?).
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Bitts)
Yeah, I bought Gray's book in 1986, I had been listening to FZ for a couple
of years, and I knew next to nothing about his life when I first picked it up.
Thank goodness the writing was so poor that I just had to think "Now wait a
minute". His rag is just so full of mis-information. I can't believe it's
still in print and UPDATED!
What I would *really* like to see is Matt Groenig finish his FZ bio. I read
an interview where he said he had written down 500 pages of notes,
supplemented by 1,500 pages of research material, during the time before
_Life in Hell_. Sure would like to see him finish it.
From: email@example.com (OnTheCornr)
MOTHER! THE FRANK ZAPPA STORY by Michael Gray is full of biographical
detail--sometimes too much, like tour itineraries--although it gets a little
sketchy after 1975, which I guess is when Gray interviewed FZ. Not totally
factually accurate, includes some gratuitously hateful remarks from Suzy
Creamcheese (e.g., expressing a desire to kick the pregnant Gail Z. in the
stomach) and the current post-mortem edition (this book has been around in
two or three previous incarnations) adds this puzzling, bitter little coda
about what a scumbag FZ was. Unfortunately, this piece of crap is the best
overview of FZ's whole life on the market. God help us.
From: Vladimir Sovetov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Just would like to correct couple of Michael's russian errors
1. (1985 edition, p.214) Zappa cited:
"On my first trip to Moscow I went to this place called Stosonomic
Center in Gorky Park"
In fact the place was called Stas Namin Center after the notorious
russian producer Stas Namin (the grand-son of even more notorious
bolshevik and Stalin's side-kick Anastas Mikoian).
In commie's days (I hope you could imagin why:-)) he enjoyed a great
lot of carefully controlled freedom and in the early 70s was even
allowed to forme the most western-oriented offical rock-group
After declaring of The Perestroika by M.Gorbachov Stas was naturally
first to use the advantages of the new more losely controlled freedom.
So out of the blue came his producer's studio Stas Namin Center and
Stas Namin Center Records company (SNC). To the last FZ gave license
to issue The Man From Utopia album (the only offical release of Frank works
in Russia) both in CD and Vinyl formats.
And that's almost the end of Stas Namin history because this protected
partisan of commie's musical desert turned to be too weak and lazy for the
real and ugly world of new Russia pop industry.
2. (1985 edition. p.225) Footnote dealing with the name of 'Prazsky Vyber -
Live - Adieu CA' Czech LP.
"On AP Records of Prague, catalogue no. 0001-2311, 'CA' was Czech's
abreviated name for the Soviet army."
Well, it isn't Czech's abbreviaton at all (which would be SV - Sovietsko
Vojsko in fact).
CA is a russian abbreviation
for Soviet Army (Советская Армия - СА), but even more important here
that this two golden letters were on shoulder-straps of every soviet
private at home and in Czechoslovakia too. So the Adieu to CA was
very graphical for the people of that country.