Stop The Presses! - Archives

Frank Zappa: Still Being S’Talked About

Stop The Presses!

Just as his longtime musical idol Edgard Varèse once noted, "The present day composer refuses to die," Frank Zappa--the enormously talented musician whose classic works as a solo artist and with his earlier band the Mothers Of Invention--lives on well past his untimely death.

Zappa, who would have turned 70 last Dec. 21, was commemorated memorably at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles Thursday night by a trio of associates that knew him extremely well--drawing a crowd of longtime fans and younger acolytes who were eager to hear more about the man and the wealth of inspirational music he created and left behind.

Central speaker of the night --officially billed "S'Talking Zappa"--was his longtime wife Gail Zappa, whose obvious regard for her late husband surfaced repeatedly during her emotional recollections of his legacy through the course of the night. Onstage with her at the intimate gathering were Zappa associates Todd Yvega, a computer music specialist who worked at length with the late icon during his later years, as well as Joe Travers, so-called "vaultmeister," who oversees Zappa's amazing treasure trove of recordings, both released and unreleased, that date back to the early '60s.

During the course of the 90-minute presentation, the trio presented some memorable video clips, Travers--a drummer who has played with Zappa's son Dweezil for 18 years--performed a Zappa-penned percussion piece, and an excerpt from Zappa's unreleased recording of his Varèse tribute made its official American debut.

The deep warmth and admiration the trio felt for Zappa was palpable throughout the night, as was that of the audience--who had a wealth of questions to offer during the Q&A part of the presentation and, one suspects, would have been happy discussing Zappa's works until, as Zappa himself once had it, the cows came home.

A wonderful night for Zappa fans, a great booking for LA's burgeoning Grammy Museum, and one more of many honors to come for the musical legend that is Frank Zappa.

View Comments