Monday, December 21, 2009

It’s Frank Zappa Day.

That’s right. Today is officially “Frank Zappa Day” in the city of Baltimore, where Zappa was born on December 21, 1940.

To honor this American original, I’ve embedded a 16½-minute video clip of Frank Zappa on “The Steve Allen Show” in the early 1960s.

Zappa wasn’t brought on the show for any serious purpose. He was there to perform a sort of Stupid Human Trick: playing the bicycle as a musical instrument.

Even then, the boy wasn’t quite normal. But Allen had fun with it. And Zappa’s dry sense of humor was in full effect.

The video ends with a full-on avant-garde improvisation by Zappa with Allen and the show’s band. It is one of the coolest things on the internets.

Steve Allen was a musician himself, you know. Big-time jazz aficionado. It is often said that Mr. Allen composed more than 10,000 songs. (As a wise guy once remarked: “Name two.”)


junebug said...

I remember reading that Steve Allen, although featuring numerous Rock and Roll acts on his show, absolutely HATED Rock & Roll music! There's a famous appearance by Elvis where Allen presented him with "the signatures of 15,000 fans" or something like that...on a roll of toilet paper. Funny, 'cause if Allen didn't like ELVIS, I can hardly imaging what he thought of ZAPPA'S music! I can picture him watching 200 Motels and his head exploding mid-way through.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Yeah, he didn't like the rock 'n' roll... but Steve Allen was known for giving national TV exposure to jazz artists such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins and Earl "Fatha" Hines. So he gets lifetime props.

phx said...

Smock smock, how's your fern?
Zappa was very cool - this just shows he was cool before we all got to know him (little before my time). Not just the musical avant gardism, but he was just born to challenge people's attitudes.
He came up the same time as the counterculture and hippies, and they loved him, yet he was very anti-dope and writing stuff like "Think I'll just drop out/ I'll buy a wig, go to Frisco / sleep on Owsley's floor / I'm really just a phony but forgive me cause I'm stoned."
Then there was "Trouble Comin' Every Day" about the Watts riots - man that just gave me so much to think about when I was like twelve.
Sorry to ramble, you hit a nerve - and I appreciate it! Viva Zappa. Thx UBM.

Undercover Black Man said...

Hey, phx. On top of everything else, Zappa was a direct influence on Pedro Bell's highly conceptualized album-cover art for Funkadelic. Most old-school funkateers have mad respect for Zappa.

papasean said...

Frank was the coolest...I saw this clip years ago on the internets, while researching Zappa, this blew me away.

Davis Rogan said...

Zappa is from Baltimore. And has a December birthday. Actually Zappa wrote a ton of very strange non-rock music that Allen would have appreciated. Thanks for putting this up.