Ramble On: Zappa on the Jukebox, And Other Mysteries of Life

barSo I was in this little tavern the other night. It wasn’t much of anything special, just a little room on the ground floor of some old apartment building, not even on a main street, and without much signage. It had about 10 or 12 mismatched stools arranged around a well-worn little bar, and one barkeep serving beers out of a portable cooler filled with ice. It had a bathroom, a jukebox, and not much more.

After I had sat there for only a few minutes, I looked at the other patrons, and had to ask out loud, rather incredulously, “Is someone playing Frank Zappa on the jukebox?”

And they were.

I quickly requested “Zombie Woof,” but was told “Hey now! This is a family establishment.”

Honestly, when was the last time you were in a bar and they had Frank Zappa playing on the jukebox? I can remember the last time for me. And it wasn’t in this Century.

Now I was fortunate enough to sit in the front row of a Frank Zappa concert, once -- way, way back in my youth. And it wasn’t because of some privileged upbringing or record company connections either.

No, it was ‘cause I was a die-hard Frank Zappa fan from my teens, and I had waited outside the ticket office through the dark hours of the night to get those front row tickets. And this was in an era when Frank Zappa was still headlining -- and filling -- 18,000 seat hockey arenas like the one I was to see him in.

Frank ZappaSo I’m sitting in the front row at this Frank Zappa concert, and he locks eyes with me, points at me, and says something about me to the crowd, referencing another popular rock star in the process.

I don’t want to get into exactly what it was -- that’ll be in my book some day -- but I did have the opportunity to tell his son, Dweezil, about it many years later, and he got a big laugh about it, particularly because it also involved Peter Frampton, who happened to be standing with Dweezil and I as I told the story, and who also laughed out loud.

It is still one of my proudest moments. Both the fact that Frank noticed me, and the fact that I then had the one-in-a-gazillion chance years later to tell the story to both Dweezil and Frampton -- and at the same time.

Laura Victoria Bustillos of LA VelvetBut I digress. So I’m sittin’ in the bar there, and my friend Laura and I get into a discussion about how great Dweezil’s tribute to his father is.

So today I happened to be searching through the InterGoogle for something, like how to get the ick off the back of my pet turtle’s shell without getting any of it on my hands, or something like that, when -- lo and behold -- I come across a full length, pro video recording of an entire “Zappa Plays Zappa” concert.

Right away I thought to myself, “Self, you’ve just GOT to share this with the Guitar.com community.”

So here it is. Enjoy.

Watch Dweezil Zappa and Friends Perform “Zappa Plays Zappa.”


About this Blog: Adam St. James is the Editor of Guitar.com, the author of a bunch of music instructional books and DVDs, and a guitar player with a wandering, rock-addled mind, probably better-suited to a slow, solitary drive through the desert than an ongoing battle with a stringed instrument. If much of what he writes seems the ramblings of an incoherent mind, you might want to see a doctor.

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