1990—Chronology Sources, Notes & Comments

January 1990—Russia & Czechoslovakia

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms, Eric Buxton & Rob Samler (December 22, 1989), Society Pages, June 1990

ERIC BUXTON: You're going back to Russia on the 15th of January?

FRANK ZAPPA: Yeah, and Cousteau is going to be over there at the same time, and I'm taking a television crew with me. I'm hoping to interview him while I'm there. I'm going to get video coverage of all that weird stuff that I've seen in Moscow, and even if I never get any of it on television, it'll certainly make an interesting Honker product, because I'll show people a view of the Soviet Union they never dreamed about before.

DEN SIMMS: What sort of weird stuff have you seen?

FRANK ZAPPA: Well, usually when you see stuff about Russia on TV in the United States, it's pictures of Red Square with tanks, y'know, and all that kind of stuff. It ain't like that. There's, like, regular people doing regular stuff. There's musicians, and painters, and film directors, and all different kinds of stuff there, and they're nice people. So, I hope to do some interviews with all different kinds of guys, and just take the camera around the places I've been, some of the art galleries, and let you know what the US media has not shown you all these years.

FZ, interviewed by World Of Music/Mir Musiky, Russia, 1990 (English translation by Vladimir Sovetov)

WM: Mr. Zappa, why are you here?

FZ: This is my fifth visit and for this time I'm just business agent. I was hired by Financial News Net to help make here an agreement on holding in Russia joint bisiness-show.

WM: Why does your efforts here seems to be dedicated only to the technical side of this show?

FZ: Why not? I'm interesting in soviet culture and I also want international relations to be strong and dynamic. I believe that business contacts are shortest way to make peoples relations really good. Anyway, they are much more effective than that on the official level. As for the money I was paid for it, it's really modest sum, not enough in fact even to buy me an airplane tickets.

FZ, interviewed by Drew Wheeler, Billboard, 1990

BILLBOARD: Why is the democratization of Eastern Europe a big issue to you?

ZAPPA: I've always thought that democracy was a good idea. I've always thought that if you're going to have a political system, that's the one that's the most in phase with how people actually think and how they want to live their lives if government would leave them alone. And so I think that it's something that's worth supporting.

BILLBOARD: And you met with Czechoslovakian president Vaclav Havel. What did he say?

ZAPPA: He said that he likes my records, especially the one I made with Captain Beefheart.

BILLBOARD: Your records were never distributed in these countries.

ZAPPA: No, they've always been illegal. Also, the people that purchased them, or acquired them, or even possessed transcripts of the lyrics were beaten by the secret police. On one of the occasions, when we were doing kind of a question-and-answer thing in a club in Prague, there were two guys who said that they had been grabbed by the secret police and before they were beaten, the guy said "WE ARE NOW GOING TO BEAT THE ZAPPA MUSIC OUT OF YOU." And nobody in the audience seemed too surprised about it, because apparently it has happened to a lot of people. And then there was another statement that was made in Czech by one of the guys in the audience at that same time and I had it translated. And what it said was that when the secret police would arrest you, they would question you and the two biggest enemies of the state at that time—which apparently was in the '70s—were Jimmy Carter and Frank Zappa. And I'm going "WHAT THE FUCK AM I HEARING HERE?" And then NPR ran a little thing in the middle of the week—an interview with an East German guy who talked about how if you owned my records in East Germany your phone got tapped and they followed you around. So, let's ask ourselves this question: If I'm such a menace to THOSE kinds of systems, then why the fuck aren't they playing my records on the air in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Could it be that there's not much difference between one authoritarian regime and another?

BILLBOARD: I thought we were supposed to be "kinder and gentler"?

ZAPPA: I think we're just more prudent and number.

BILLBOARD: How do you feel about the Bush administration's reaction to what's going on in Eastern Europe?

ZAPPA: It's totally unacceptable. I think that in the face of such major world events, to have a guy sitting there saying "Well, we must be prudent", and just making those mincing little motions with his hands and pursing his lips and kind of looking glum when the Berlin Wall comes down. All it shows me is they got no forward thinking, they got no real foreign policy, and this is something that shouldn't be in a country that has such a superiority complex. A superiority complex is OK if you really are superior and you can back it up with something, but I haven't seen any evidence that the big talk coming out of Washington is backed up by anything. Certainly not by logic.

BILLBOARD: Does your interest in Eastern Europe have anything to do with musical or business projects?

ZAPPA: Well, when I first went there it didn't, but I think it's turned into something that could probably be worthwhile. For one thing, I've made a record contract, I have made arrangements to have five titles distributed legally in Czechoslovakia for the first time. And the company that's doing it also has the right to distribute them in Hungary, Poland and East Germany. So, what remains of a secret police in each of those states is really gonna get a snootful.

Bob Guccione, Jr., "Signs Of The Times," Spin Magazine, July 1991

SPIN: You've gotten involved in doing business in Czechoslovakia. What has failed in Eastern Europe?

Zappa: The United States Government.

SPIN: What do you mean by that?

Zappa: Because after all these years of saying "We'd love to be rid of Communism," and then we built up these weapons to destroy Communism, and this huge army, it rots before your very eyes, and you've got this opportunity to go in and spread democracy, which all the Presidents have talked about. "This is democracy, it's good, everyone should have it, our way is the best," and all it would have taken is a couple of bucks, and some advisers to say, "Here's how a free-market system works" and a little friendly help. And that just wasn't there.

Don Menn, "Van Carlson," Zappa!, 1992, p. 93

The trip to the Soviet bloc was a high point in [Van] Carlson' relationship with Frank. "It's what I imagine it was like to have been in New York when the Beatles arrived," Van recalls. "In Czechoslovakia, as the airplane was pulling in to the gate, you could hear voices growing louder and louder shouting 'Zappa, Zappa!' And we looked out the window, and there were huge crowds of people holding up signs saying 'Welcome Frank.' Even the baggage handlers were standing on top of the airport waving. From the moment we stepped out of that plane, for the next four or five days, it was just nonstop fans."

Only Carlson and Dave Dondorf accompanied Zappa on the trip, and they both worried for Frank's well-being, since he was swept away by the crowds. As a guest of a member of the government, eventually Zappa was afforded some rudimentary security. [...] "Havel was very nervous about meeting Frank, because he was a fan," Van states. "I overheard him saying to Frank, 'Oh, you know, my most favorite record was Bongo Fury with Captain Beefheart.' It was one of those moments of 'Pinch me—what am I doing here!'"

The stop in Moscow had its share of odd encounters as well. Carlson had visited there years before and expected the same strict monitoring of activity that characterized pre-perestroika Russia. "We were staying at a nasty hotel by the Kremlin," he recalls, "and St. Basil's was all lit up in the snow. So without any permission, we just stopped to get a hot of it at like two in the morning. It would have been impossible to do that in Washington, D.C.—to just drive, in a private car, up to the steps of the White House without having a security check. But there we were in Red Square, already rolling before a guard came over. Our driver said, 'Zappa.' The guard said, 'Fine.'"

Meeting Vaclav Havel In Czechoslovakia

FZ, interviewed by Humo, December 1993

I had a meeting with one Michael Kocab, a pianist who played in a rock group, but also composed classical music. He wanted to perform a number of my compositions in Prague, and asked if I could send him some sheet-music. Which I did. By the time they got to Prague, it appeared that Kocab had suddenly been chosen as a member of parliament! A little later I met Vaclav Havel himself.

David Corn, "Frank Zappa—Trading Partner," The Nation, March 19, 1990

DC: How did you make your first contact with President Vaclav Havel?

FZ: I called Michael Kocab, who is both a famous Czechoslovak rock-and-roll musician and—now here's progress—a member of Parliament. We had met in Los Angeles last year, and now all of a sudden he's in the middle of a democratic revolution. "Could I possibly have an interview with Havel?" I asked. No problem, he said. Thousands of fans greeted me when I arrived in Prague with my video crew. For twenty years, my albums have been smuggled into the country. After spending a day or so just looking about at life in Czechoslovakia, I went to Hradcany Castle to meet President Havel. The President told me he especially likes my early records with the Mothers of Invention and the Bongo Fury album I made with Captain Beefheart. He asked me to play at a concert honoring him during his state visit to the United States. He was hoping that the Rolling Stones and Joan Baez would also perform. [But the final result would be quite different. Instead, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Dizzy Gillespie played at the New York concert for Havel.]

DC: But you were there to discuss business as well.

FZ: Right. I stated to talk to him on behalf of FNN. "What sort of foreign investment is Czechoslovakia looking for? Why should foreign investors put their money into Czechoslovakia?" These questions, Havel said, should be addressed to his financial ministers. Then at a small lunch with Havel, his wife, Olga, Richard Wagner, Vice Minister and adviser for economy and ecology, and Valtr Komarek, a deputy prime minister and leader of their new economic team, we discussed how the country could increase its income, and the conversation continued later that day at dinner in a villa near the castle. At my request, Milan Lukes, the Czech Minister of Culture, was present. Havel and his ministers know they need some Western investment, but they don't want all the ugliness that often invades a country with Western investment. The easiest way to keep the lid on that is to have someone involved whose primary concern is culture, who can reject or modify a project if it is going to have a negative impact on society. Hence my request for the involvement of the Minister of Culture. After dinner, Lukes went on television and announced that I would be representing Czechoslovakia on trade, tourism and cultural matters. The next morning I received a letter from Komarek, which began, "Dear Sir, may I entrust you [with] leading negotiations with foreign partners for preparation of preliminary projects, possibly drafts of trade agreements?"

FZ, interviewed by Libby Purvis & Brian Hayes, Midweek, Radio 4, London, UK, July 3, 1991

I was visited at my house by a man who at that time was a famous Czech rock musician. His name was Michael Kocab and he invited me to Prague to have some of my orchestral music played. Then a few months later, there was a revolution and he was not only a rock musician but a Member of Parliament. I was on my way to Moscow to videotape some interviews for Financial News Network, and I wanted to route my trip back through Prague on the way back to LA. I contacted him and asked whether he could arrange for me to meet President Havel, to see some of what was going on in Prague. He did, and I spent four days there, and had very interesting results.

[...] I will just say that I had no official title with the Czech government, and leave it at that. When I originally made the deal with them, I was supposed to represent them for trade, tourism and culture. I actually filed as an agent of a foreign power with the US government in order to do this. You're obliged to do that but there was some interference in the situation by the American government.

Jack Anderson, "Zappa Shot Down By Baker," ROC, 1992

In the case we have uncovered, [James] Baker diplomatically used his surrogates to ace an American rock 'n' roll icon out of a job as the trade representative from Czechoslovakia because the rocker had publicly insulted Baker's wife Susan.

This tale of international intrigue was told to our associate Dale Van Atta by sources in Prague and Washington. Incredible, but true, is the fact that Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel did offer the job of special ambassador to the West on trade, culture and tourism to Frank Zappa. [...] Havel, a playwright known for absurd satire, met Zappa in Prague in January 1990, and the two men hit it off immediately. Havel had long been a fan of Zappa's music genius and even credited his music as part of the inspiration for the anti-communist revolution. [...]

So Havel had plenty to thank Zappa for. He was so grateful, in fact, that he impetuously created the special ambassadorship for Zappa. The musician left town with Havel's praise in his ears and the adulation of hundreds of fans who treated him as a Czech national hero. He was even talking about applying for citizenship.

Two weeks later, Baker came to town carrying an old grudge. It dated from 1985, when Susan Baker and other well-connected Washington wives, including Tipper Gore, wife of Sen. Albert Gore, D-Tenn., formed Parents Music Resource Center. The group's objective was a music ratings system similar to the movie ratings, based on sex, obscenity and violence.

Zappa, the purveyor of all three in his lyrics, came to Washington for a showdown before the Senate Commerce Committee. He was unrelenting in his criticism of the ratings idea. He ridiculed Susan Baker and the others, calling them "a group of bored Washington housewives," and said they wanted to "housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few."

Zappa even mimicked Susan Baker's Southern accent. This was too much for Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., who snapped at Zappa during the hearing, calling him "boorish, incredibly and insensibly insulting."

James Baker remembered the insult. When he arrived in Prague, on the heels of Zappa's appointment as trade representative, Baker had his surrogates convey his displeasure to Havel. It was delicately phrased as "advice," suggesting that "an American should not serve as a trade representative for Czechoslovakia." Baker's real objection was apparently twofold—he was still piqued over the insult to his wife, and he thought the appointment made Havel look amateurish.

So the Czechs, anxious to please the foreign minister of the world's biggest superpower, cooled on the Zappa appointment. They dragged their feet, explaining to Zappa that bureaucratic red tape was getting in the way. Several months later, Zappa was appointed unofficial cultural ambassador.

The successful conclusion of a duel is not something gentlemen boast about. So Baker was unavailable for comment and Havel declined to discuss it. Zappa, who is battling prostate cancer, was also unavailable for comment, but his confidantes report that he blames Baker.

Never mind the setback. Zappa is still a busy and successful musician, making videos under the label Honker Home Video (named after his nose), and selling memorabilia under a company he calls Barfko-Swill. And, he continues to fight the establishment. He hasn't driven since 1969 because he refuses to stand in line for a license. He rails against big government and taxes. He even hired two political consultants to do a "feasibility study" on a Zappa bid for president. Then James Baker would be out of a job.

FZ, quoted by Neil Slaven, Record Hunter, July 1992

That was scuffled by James Baker. He was on his way to Moscow and took a side trip to Prague. I can't prove this, but two people have told me that they saw the meeting and they heard what he said. One of them almost did a television interview. From the day that the guy told me what had happened to the next day when I got the crew, somebody had gotten hold of him and he refused to talk when the camera crew was there. He absolutely verified that pressure was applied to the Czech government for them not to do business with me.

FZ, interviewed by David Sheff, Playboy, April 1993

You tried to book Czechoslovakia's president Vaclav Havel as a guest, right?

I knew a guy who had been a rock-and-roll musician who, after the revolution, was a ranking member of the Czech parliament. I asked him whether or not he could arrange for me to meet Havel so that I could interview him about the country's economy for FNN. I met with Havel and found that the minute I started talking with him about economics, he turned me over to his advisors; he didn't know anything about it. We didn't do the interview, but it was great meeting with him.

Why Havel?

I happen to think that the Velvet Revolution was a little bit of a miracle. Since he was kind of the focal point of the whole thing, I thought he'd be a nice guy to talk with. He was. In the middle of everything, he mentioned that Dan Quayle was coming to visit. I expressed my condolences. I told him I was sorry that he was going to be forced to have a conversation with anyone that stupid. It eventually must have gotten back to the U.S. embassy. Instead of sending Quayle, Jim Baker—who was on his way to Moscow—rerouted his trip and went to Prague.

What do you think of the breakup of Czechoslovakia?

It's a big mistake. The crash program for economic reform is part of what led to the breakup of the country. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who was the advocate of the fast economic reform a la Poland, is a person who is well respected by Western financial people because he talks their language. This has a tendency to assure potential Western backers, who are not comfortable with a guy who wants to go slowly. But there, are factors that make it necessary to go slowly.

Now there is no intellectual core in charge of the revolution, and the country has divided up, which is a mistake. Smaller entities tend to be less efficient; every small country has to reinvent the wheel. They have to set up a new constitution, a legislature, currency. It's happening in every one of the small breakaway republics. It gives the people personal gratification as a nationality, but the price is chaos.

GZ Sez, zappa.com, January 3, 2012

Q: Did Frank still like and respect Václav Havel despite the unfortunate results of Frank's dealings with the Czech government (thanks to James Baker III)? Did Frank still keep in contact with President Havel?

A: Love and Respect and it was mutual. FZ resigned his Czech appointment so as not to cause problems for President Havel. And yes, they did see each other again in the U.S.


February 21, 1990—32nd Annual Grammy Awards (1989)

"Frank Zappa," Recording Academy Grammy Awards

Best Musical Cast Show Album
Broadway The Hard Way (Album)


May 1990—International Music & Media Conference

"Zappa Set For IM&MC," Music & Media, March 10, 1990, p. 4

Frank Zappa and Al Teller, chairman of MCA Music, are two of the major speakers already lined-up for this year's International Music & Media Conference (IM&MC). The conference will take place in Amsterdam from May 27-30.

"IM&MC Conference Topics," Music & Media, April 21, 1990, p. 14

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Frank Zappa, "Rock Around The Bloc"

"News, Views And Previews Of The IM&MC," Music & Media, April 21, 1990, p. 15

[...] Key Notes: Our Keynote line-up promises some unusual and controversial material, including Al Teller (chairman, MCA Music Entertainment Group) on "World Radio: Mirror image Of America—Or An Original Statement; Frank Zappa on developing music industry relations & opportunities in 'Rock Around The Bloc' and Colin Walters (MD, Laurel Benedict Ltd/Walters and Pollack) who will discuss European radio developments in the coming decade in 'Radio Europe 2000'.


The Russians Are Coming The IM&MC will welcome the largest and most varied delegation ever from the Soviet Union to this year's conference. [...] Although Western companies are rushing to invest in Eastern Europe, the actual opportunities for investment and co-operation are still far from clear. Distinguishing between vague promise and true potential will be the focus of 'A World Full Of Eastern Promise'. Chaired by Tony Hollingsworth (MD, Tribute Productions), participants will include Holger Mueller (MD EMI Austria), Martin Brisac (director-general, Europe 2), Armen Oganesyan (editor-in-chief English Language Service, Radio Moscow), entrepreneur and performer Frank Zappa, who last year formed a consulting firm to set up joint ventures in the USSR and Marialina Marcucchi (president, Super Channel).

"IM&MC Keynote: Zappa Looks East From The West," Music & Media, June 2, 1990, p. 7

When Frank Zappa, who is better known for his anti-establishment views than entrepreneurial exploits, recently emerged as an East-West wheeler dealer, IM&MC decided to bring him aboard this year's conference as a keynote speaker. His topic, Rock Around The Bloc, promised to enlighten registrants with his experience in doing business in the East. Unfortunately, illness has forced Zappa to cancel his address. Unable to deliver the man himself, Music & Media interviewed him so that conference delegates will not be denied his thoughts on the subject.


Informant: Javier Marcote

Prostate Cancer

FZ, interviewed by David Sheff, Playboy, April 1993

How long have you known about your cancer?

I found out about it in the spring of 1990.

It hit out of the blue?

I'd been feeling sick for a number of years, but nobody diagnosed it. Then I got really ill and had to go to the hospital in an emergency. While I was in there, they did some tests and found out it had been there for anywhere from eight to ten years, growing undetected by any of my previous doctors. By the time they found it, it was inoperable.

How about other treatments?

I went through radiation and that fucked me up pretty good. They were supposed to give me twelve shots of that, but I got to number eleven and I was so sick that I said I couldn't go back.

Was it helping?

I don't want to dwell on all the morbid details of what happened to me, but I'll summarize it. When I went into the hospital, the cancer had grown to where I could no longer take a piss. In order for me just to survive, they had to poke a hole in my bladder. I spent more than a year with a hose coming out of my bladder and a bag tied to my leg. That'll keep you from traveling. The result of the radiation was that the tumor was shrunken to the point where I could get rid of the bag and could piss again, but there were bad side effects. I don't want to talk about it. It's not a picnic.

Patrice "Candy" Zappa, My Brother Was A Mother, 2003, p. 78

On Mother's Day, [May 14,] 1989, Frank called Mom to wish her a happy day and added, "Oh, by the way, I have cancer."

Co de Kloet, Frank & Co, 2020, p. 174-175

1989 [...] Frank was scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the International Music and Media Conference in Amsterdam that May. I was looking forward to seeing him, and so it was disappointing to hear that he'd been fored to cancel his appearance. [...]

We spoke on the phone that summer [...]. Unfortunately I didn't record this rambling conversation, but I'll never forget how, as it wound to an end, he calmly said, Oh, by the way, I got cancer." For a moment I was speechless. Then I asked whether it was treatable, and Frank answered, "We will see," and that he actually felt alright, considering.

Michael Gray, Mother! The Frank Zappa Story, 1994, p. 220

Rumours started circulating in 1989 that Frank Zappa was ill—that he had either contracted cancer of the throat or of the prostate. One or two ex-Mothers dropped hints to this effect 'off the record' in interviews, and gradually the possibility of Frank having cancer, perhaps of his being seriously ill, became widespread in the music industry and around LA. The first indication that there was probably substance to some of this rumour came at the end of May 1990, when he had to cancel a visit to Czechoslovakia and back out of flying to Amsterdam to attend the Music Media Exhibition as a keynote speaker. Cancellation was due to illness.


Arf Society & Zappanale

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms & Rob Samler, Society Pages, June 1991

DS: We're really anxious to be able to pull into the fold, so to speak, these Eastern Europeans. We've been makin' a little bit of headway with some East Germans. There is this group called the East German Arf Society . . .

FZ: (laughs)

DS: and they have gotten together for a couple of annual meetings.

FZ: That's great!

DS: Actually, one of our friends took a trip to Europe, met with those people, went to one of their little meetings, and was really taken with the whole experience of it!

FZ: That's amazing!


September 20-25, 1990—Dancing Zappa, Biennale de la Danse, Lyon, France


Den Simms, Eric Buxton & Rob Samler, "They're Doing the Interview of the Century—Part 3," Society Pages (US), September 1990

RS: What about the project for Lyon, France, and the orchestra?

FZ: That's this June or July. They're gonna do it. They've got the scores.

RS: Are you gonna be there for it?

FZ: Yes, I'm supposed to go there to produce the recording, 'cause they're going to record 'Sinister Footwear'.

RS: Hmm. Great.

EB: Is there gonna be a public performance of it?

FZ: Yep, and the ballet will choreograph it, and then, the tapes will be used for this ballet company to tour with it. They'll dance to the tape.

Neil Slaven, Electric Don Quixote—The Definitive Story Of Frank Zappa, 2003, p. 375

The fourth Biennale de la Danse was held in Lyon between September 13 and October 6; Dancing Zappa was presented by the Orchestre de l'Opera de Lyon and the Lyon Opera Ballet at the Maurice Ravel Auditorium for five nights, beginning September 20. Robert Hughes conducted "The Perfect Stranger" and "Bogus Pomp." There were four pre-recorded songs, "Trouble Comin' Every Day," "Plastic People," "I'm The Slime" and "Why Don'tcha Do Me Right," and Kent Nagano took up the baton to conduct "Strictly Genteel."

Heiki Poroila, Compositions By Frank Zappa, Honkakirja, October 28, 2017, p. 69

Dancing Zappa

Title for a ballet concert with Frank Zappa's music at Maurice Ravel Auditorium September 20-25, 1990 in Lyon, France. KENT NAGANO and ROBERT HUGHES conducted L'Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon. Three works were performed live (The Perfect Stranger, Strictly Genteel and Bogus Pomp) and five rock numbers were heard from pre-recorded tapes. Nagano had planned to perform the whole Sinister Footwear as well, but that was in the end impossible for economical reasons.

Burt Supree, "Allons Danser," Village Voice, October 9, 1990

The Lyon Opera Ballet's "Dancing Zappa" started out as a project for several French choreographers to make pieces to music commissioned from Frank Zappa. But the choreographers approached found the resultant scores uncongenial for dancing and refused to participate. Ultimately the project fell to three Americans who were invited to make dances to existing Zappa music of their own choosing. The evening comes off better than you'd expect, considering how unsuitable the music really is. Lucinda Childs, still tagged as a minimalist, choreographed Perfect Stranger for the superb Jocelyne Mocogni and Pierre Advkatoff and 14 others to a 13-minute Zappa piece performed live by the Lyon Opera Orchestra, conducted by Robert Hughes. Childs chose not to have the dancers skate smoothly across the music's face but to obey its rhythms while resisting its strident drag. Surprisingly, she created a skillfully constructed, sculptural, neoclassical ballet—though one that's monumental, obstinate and excessively cold.

Karole Armitage's Strictly Genteel used four recorded Zappa songs (including "Plastic People" and "Slime") plus his Strictly Genteel conducted by Kent Nagano. What can I say? Armitage's pretentious dances rip off the cliches of popular culture. Her humorless parodies seem without perspective or sensibility. The assaultive manners, the rudeness and fraudulent sexuality of the punching, kicking, crotch-in-your-face movement is simply insulting. The costumes (by David Salle, Armitage and various couturiers) matter a lot. The black ribbons of the women's point shoes, for example, appear to bind their ankles with casual but fetishistic cruelty. Men in white jumpsuits, black boots and derbies, and giant stuffed crotch protectors pair with dizzy girls in flimsy dresses with maribou trim. There are gauchos, and cowboys and dance hall girls, and go-go girls in metal and fringe.

Armitage must be smarter than this shallow work indicates. But her pretentiousness still exceeds her abilities to an embarrassing degree. The music sounds too much like second-hand stuff to be satisfying, but Ralph Lemon did a first-rate job in Bogus Pomp, a Zappa opus 25 minutes long that's riddled with wrong turns, dead ends, and self-conscious musical wisecracks. Lemon made a moody, complex work for nine dancers in blue and purple hues, with both men and women appearing randomly and equally comfortable in pants or dresses. He sucks you into a world of loose and changeable emotions that are not conventional, casual, or reliable. At the beginning, seven dancers come onstage one at a time and stand modestly facing the audience. At the music's opening fanfare, they walk off. Later, three women are crouching; their male partners standing behind them go into frenzies of frantic stamps and flings. The women kiss them, soothe them, make it all better. Then they back off, take a moment, and run hard at them, knocking them straight to the floor. I like the veering emotions, the occasional sluggishness, the collapsing extravagances, the weight and fullness of the dancing, and the strange, offhand personal incidents—like little kisses—that heighten the colors of the work and add a curious taste of the commonplace.

You never know where you are in the emotional geography of Bogus Pomp, but the constellation of movement and feeling at a given moment seems perfectly true. Sometimes that truth is astonishing. For example, the orchestra begins to mutter and yell while Jocelyne Mocogni holds a balance for a very long time. Philippe Lormeau picks her up over his shoulder, sets her down, then takes her place on demi-point. Suddenly he explodes in a flashing tantrum of every-which-way leaps, flings himself, kicks, snatches and tosses his skirt while hardly moving from one spot. His initiative explodes the gathered tensions, restores the balance that Mocogni's cruelly extended balance steals. It's so unexpected, so unjustifiable, so right.



FZ, answering a phone call, WIOD, Miami, FL

Caller: Have you given up touring altogether?

FZ: Pretty much. Yeah.


October 1990—Morgan Ågren in L.A.

Morgan Ågren, "Meeting Mr. Zappa," Morgan Ågren

In October 1990 I went to Los Angeles hoping to connect with Frank, since we hadn't heard from him in 2 years. I was in contact with a guy named Gerald Fialka, who worked at Barking Pumpkin. He said I could stay at his place if I planned to come over. So I did. I called Mike Keneally the day after my arrival and said hello. Mike called Frank and told him I was in town. Frank had said: "Great, take him over so we can listen to some tapes!"

[...] Me, Mike & Frank listened through tapes for a couple of hours including our guest performance from the Stockholm '88 show. Just before it was time to go home Frank asked me were I was staying, and this particular night I wasn't suppose to stay at Gerald's house cause he had a date and I was going to spend the night in a youth hostel. Frank said I shouldn't have to stay in a youth hostel, and picked up the phone and asked somebody upstairs if the guestroom was vacant. It was and I could stay.

[...] Just before going back to Sweden, Frank was asked to put a band together for an orchestral kind of project in Japan, were he wanted to involve me and Mats. But it was turned down due to financial reasons.

Magnus Höglund and Peder Andersson, "Mats/Morgan Interview," PlanetZappa, October 2000

PZ: We know that you already have told the story about when you met Frank, but is there anything you can tell us that we haven't heard before?

Morgan: One thing I actually remember at this very moment, is a funny one! When I had stayed at Frank's house in 1990 and was about to leave for Sweden, I wanted to give Frank something. I used to paint T-shirts in those days and had made a couple at Gerald Fialka's house just a couple of days before, that I had in my luggage. So before I left Frank's house I told him 'Here is a couple of T-shirts that I have made myself, and I wanted him to pick one!' Frank looked at the T-shirts for a few seconds and took one, and then he said "Well, what do I know about art?" . . . That was actually what he said . . . (laughs!) I could not believe those worlds came from HIS mouth! . . . Frank put the T-shirt on and walked around in his kitchen looking for coffee or something . . . That was some sight! I actually gave a T-shirt to Moon as well, which had "Farbror Kött" written on it, which means Uncle Meat on Swedish, how krejsy of me huh? [...]

PZ: Was Frank recording any of your music when you were visiting his studio UMRK in LA?

Morgan: No recordings unfortunately. To me, being there was off course unreal, but it wouldn't have been more unreal to record something with him since I now was there. I was a little bit surprised he didn't get something on his mind worth doing. I mean it wouldn't have been unlike him . . . He was working with other stuff for sure, but we didn't record anything . . . I was there for 4-5 days.


The Mothers Of Invention Lawsuit

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 202-204

The whole lawsuit thing had started in 1985 but it didn't go to arbitration until 1990. Originally, the lawsuit was a Class Action Suit for $150,000. As the years went by, people started to drop out. I can't remember exactly how many of us there were at the beginning but at the end there was myself, Don, Bunk, Art Tripp, Ray Collins and Jim Fielder.

[...] That's actually the last time that I saw Frank. [...] He was in there for four hours and we were sitting right across the table from him and he never looked at any of us one time. [...] The arbitration lasted for three days but Frank was only there for one.

[...] So the settlement was made there and then, in November of 1990.

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms & Rob Samler, Society Pages, June 1991

RS: Can you tell us what happened with that, or would you rather not?

FZ: Uh I'd rather not. I just think that it was such a stupid thing to begin with, and even though it's all over, as far as I'm concerned, there's plenty of hard feelings on my side. I got a Christmas card from Jimmy Carl Black saying, "We'll always be friends," and all this kind of stuff, and I'm going, "What the fuck is this!?"

RS: (laughs)

FZ: And I got a phone call from Ray Collins. He wanted to come over and visit me, and I said, "Well, wait a minute! Why should I spend any time talking with you, y'know? You sued me."

RS: Right. That doesn't make for good friends.


FZ: Y'know, why should I have any good feelings at all toward people who were involved in such a travesty of justice?

markheckstuff, "Frank Zappa Signed Document Contract Autograph Rare Mothers Of Invention," Ebay, retrieved June 19, 2020


This Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release (hereinafter the "Agreement") is entered this 31st day of August, 1990 into by and between parties ("Parties"): Frank Zappa, Bizarre Records, Inc., Bizarre Production, Barking Pumpkin Records, Barfko Swill, Intercontinental Absurdities Ltd., and any predecessor or successor corporations (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Zappa"), on the one hand, and Don Preston ("Preston"), Jimmy Carl Black ("Black"), John "Bunk" Gardner ("Gardner"), James Fielder ("Fielder"), Ray Collins ("Collins"), and Arthur Tripp III ("Tripp") (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Plaintiffs"), on the other hand.

This Agreement is made with reference to the following facts:

1. On or about January 31, 1985 Plaintiffs commenced an action against Zappa and David Desalvo in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, designated Case No. CA 000910 (the "Action.") The Action asserted various causes of action against Zappa (as set forth in the Third Amended Complaint) and alleged the existence of certain agreements between Zappa and Plaintiffs. These alleged agreements ("Agreements") consisted of the following:

1.1. An "Agreement for Association With Musical Group" dated November 15, 1965 between [...].


[...] [par]agraphs 1.1. through 1.4 inclusive on pages 1 and 2 of this [Agr]eement; and b) a cashier's check in the amount of twenty-five [th]ousand ($25,000) plus interest from September 1, 1990 in [pa]yment for the Grant of Rights and settlement and release of all [...]er past and present claims and all future claims. Said checks [sha]ll be made payable to "The Abrams & Goldstein Client Trust [Ac]count" and delivered to the law firm of Abrams & Goldstein.

4. With the sole and exclusive exception of the [...]cepted Matters, specifically described in paragraph 6 [her]einbelow, upon execution of this Agreement, all prior [ag]reements between Zappa and Plaintiffs, including but not [...]mited to the Agreements enumerated in Paragraphs 1.1 through [1.]4 inclusive, on pages 1 and 2 of this Agreement shall be [te]rminated and any and all rights which Plaintiffs may have had [un]der any and all prior agreements with Zappa shall be [im]mediately extinguished.

5. Releases:

With the sole and exclusive exception of the [ac]cepted Matters, specifically described in paragraph 6 [he]reinbelow, Zappa on the one hand, and Plaintiffs, and each of [th]em, on the other hand, hereby fully and forever release and [dis]charge each other, without limitation and each of their [res]pective past and present spouses, administrators, executors, [hei]rs, assigns, attorneys, accountants, agents, employees, [par]tners, members, officers, directors, representatives, [sub]sidiaries, divisions, parents, affiliates, shareholders, [pre]decessors-in-interest and successors-in-interest, from any and [...]


[...] binding on all of the parties hereto, notwithstanding that all the parties are not asignatory to the original or same counterpart.

22. Each party represents that he or it has the right to execute this Agreement.

DATED AS OF ____________, 1990









By: Authorized Officer


By: Authorized Officer

David Allen, "Please Greet Ray Collins, Claremont's Own Mother," Daily Bulletin, May 30, 2009

[Ray Collins has] lived in Claremont since 1991 [...]. He moved to Claremont after a modest legal settlement with Zappa over his and other founding members' contributions to the band, he says.

JCB, on Where's The Beer And When Do We Get Paid? (2012)

I can't talk about it. The lawsuit. So there is no sense in even get into it. It's not allowed to for us to say what the settlement was or how much we made or anything.

And it's really nobody's business.

Wasn't that much, let's put it that way.


December 21, 1990—New Synclavier

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms & Rob Samler, Society Pages, June 1991

RS: So Frank, didja have a good birthday?

FZ: Yeah, it was nice.

RS: That's good. Get a lot of nice gifts?

FZ: Well, I got one nice gift. I got a brand new Synclavier.

DS: No shit?

RS: Oh, didja? A brand new one?

FZ: Yeah.

DS: What kind of capabilities is it gonna give you beyond the one that it's replacing?

FZ: It's twice as big, in terms of storage, and it also has a direct to disc system, so it can do a lot more than the old one.

DS: All right. When are we gonna get to hear somethin' from it?

FZ: Hopefully later this year. The other belated birthday present that I think I'm gonna be receiving is a new mixing console for the studio.

DS: All right.

RS: Great.

FZ: Since that will make a big difference in the sound quality, I'm going to postpone the mixing on the Synclavier stuff until after we get the new console.


Moving to Australia?

FZ, interviewed by Gary Steel [in 1990], T'Mershi Duween #20-21, July-September 1991

GS: With distribution of the records, what's the situation as far as Australasia goes?

FZ: Four members of my family just got back from Australia because Dweezil was playing some shows down there with an Australian star that I don't know. During that time, my wife had meetings with Festival and I don't know what they worked out. I'm waiting for a deal now with them. Let me tell you what else happened when my wife went to Australia. One of the things we were looking for was some property because I had considered moving my entire business to Australia. And while she was down there, I actually went to the Australian consulate in LA to find out if the government offered any incentives for new businesses, and to see what the general receptivity would be to moving our stuff down there. One of the things we discussed, besides moving the record business down there is . . .

Do you remember something in Germany called Bauhaus? [...] I started talking to this guy from the Australian consul about whether or not it would be feasible to do something like that in Australia. By the time he explained Australian unions to me, I said 'Thank you very much' and I was out of there in the blink of an eye. It was so depressing. He said 'You know you would have to get permission from the Unions for each different person that you would bring in there, and then the labour department would have to see whether there was somebody in Australia who could do the job' and it was totally depressing.


Tokyo Concert

FZ, interviewed by Gary Steel [in 1990], T'Mershi Duween #20-21, July-September 1991

GS: Did you enjoy working with the brass section in 1988?

FZ: Oh yeah. In fact, if I do the concert in Tokyo, I'll probably have a horn section.


Touch Therapy

Dean Kraft, A Touch Of Hope, 1998, p. 210-212

One late afternoon, Rochelle escorted in and introduced a lanky, limping, goateed man in his mid-forties. He was in a lot of pain—cancerous lesions had spread across his skeletal structure and throughout his body. The lesions were caused by prostate cancer, a condition I was working with more frequently, with enormous success. But now both of his kidneys were failing.

[...] Frank was so much in pain and depressed that at first it was difficult for me to talk to him and pull information from him. It seemed by this time he'd been hurt enough by biopsies and medical procedures and had finally reached his limit. He didn't want to do anything but die. He wanted to be left alone, but he was persuaded by his wife, Gail, to see me. Because he knew my treatment was noninvasive, he finally agreed.

[...] Within a few weeks of our working together, Frank's pain was substantially better. His doctor found that I had restimulated his failing kidneys—they were functioning again. [...] Before seing me, the tumors had gone ballistic throughout his body, but now more than half of the metastatic bone cancer lesions had disappeared and rest were definitively smaller. [...]

By Christmas Eve of 1991, it had been more than two years since Frank and I had begun working together on his struggle to get well. Rochelle and I were invited to spend this holiday night with him, his family, and a small group of friends at his home in the Hollywood Hills. [...] Frank felt well enough to resume spending most of the day recording new music in his home studio, and subsequently went on tour in Germany.

Gail Zappa, letter to Dr. Joe Jacobs, February 10, 1993

[...] I am very enthusiastic that the U.S. government has at long last chosen to examine alternative treatments and therapies. [...] The reason for my letter is to exhort you to take advantage of the considerable skills of Dean Kraft in your development and examination of the merits of touch therapy. It is my belief that any conclusions you may come to with regard to this extraordinary method of healing could not possibly be valid were he not included. I base this conviction on my own personal experience with Dean and on his efforts in my husband's behalf in his battle with prostate cancer.



Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2023-01-22