Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa played cosmic baseball for three seasons as an outfielder for the Delta Dragons and the Paradise Pisces. He retired in 1988. He is currently the owner of the Franklinton Zappas which play in CBA's Underleague.
Official Cosmic Record

Zappa, Age 2

The Zappa Family, 1953
Frank is 2nd from left

High School Graduate

The Mothers of Invention

Zappa Claus

Zappa, 1992

Guitar World, 1982

American Musician

December 21, 1940 - December 4, 1993

Before Freak Out

Frank Zappa was one of the most influential international rock musicians of his generation. He recorded and released over 50 albums and spent countless hours touring with his various bands, most notably, the notorious Mothers of Invention. Freak Out, the very first conceptual rock album was recorded in January 1966 and released the following July. Below is a brief review of Zappa's life and career prior to the release of his first album.

Zappa was born in 1940 into the Italian Catholic immigrant community in Baltimore, Maryland. He would be the oldest of four children. He was somewhat frail and so his family moved during World War 2 to Florida where the climate was better suited to their young asthmatic son. In 1951 the Zappas moved to California and in 1955 Frank attended Mission Bay High School in San Diego. His interest in music began developing at this time. His first instrument was drums. By 1956 the Zappas had moved from San Diego to Lancaster in California's Antelope Valley. Lancaster is 40 miles from Los Angeles, separated by the San Gabriel Mountains. For his fifteenth birthday, Zappa's mother let him place a call to the composer Edgar Varese who was then living and composing in New York City. Frank had been obsessively listening to Varese's experimental and innovative music and he was greatly influenced by the composer's work..

Frank organized his first band in 1956 while attending Antelope Valley Joint Union High School. The Blackouts were an eight-piece band with Zappa on the drums. The band played mostly rhythm and blues classics such as "Behind the Sun", "Bacon Fat" and Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You." It was also this year that Zappa met and became best friends with Don Van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart. The two inspired each other's love of music and would later work together professionally.

Zappa graduated from high school on June 13, 1958 and enrolled in the local community college ostensibly to meet girls. The following Spring, Zappa, at 18, moved by himself to the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, close to Hollywood. However, his health became tentative and in 1959 he moved back in with his family who had by now moved again to Claremont, California, east of Los Angeles.

It was during this time that Zappa met Kay Sherman. He and Kay lived together, got married and after five years eventually divorced. Frank worked for a time as a graphic designer at a greeting card company; Kay worked at a local bank. However, during this time, music was the single most important thing to Zappa.

In 1960 Zappa formed another band called The Boogie Men. By now Zappa had changed instruments, exchanging the drums for the electric lead guitar. The Boogie Men didn't fare too well and Zappa played guitar in a lounge band called Joe Perrino and The Mellotones. The Mellotones played the popular cocktail lounge tunes such as "Anniversary Waltz", "Happy Birthday", and "Green Dolphin Street." Zappa would later compose "America Drinks and Goes Home" (Absolutely Free, 1967) as a memorial to this experience.

In 1961, Zappa wrote a film score for the movie The world's Greatest Sinner by writer/producer/director Tim Carey. On December 17, 1961 the 55-piece Pomona Valley Symphony Orchestra recorded Zappa's film score. Zappa later on was critical of the piece; however part of the score appears as "Holiday in Berlin" on the Burnt Weenie Sandwich (1970) album.

The first record Zappa ever made was a single produced by Paul Buff at Studio PAL. Zappa played guitar, and the musicians were called The Masters (which included Zappa, Paul Buff and Ronnie Williams). Released in 1962 the songs on the single were called (A-Side) "Break Time" and (B-Side) "16 Tons." During 1962 and 1963 Zappa wrote and recorded a number of singles for Paul Buff and eventually Zappa took over Studio PAL and renamed it Studio Z. He also formed a couple more bands, one called The Soots included Captain Beefheart as lead vocalist. A three-piece combo called The Muthers played regularly at the Saints and Sinners, a local go-go bar in Ontario, California. In 1963 Zappa got busted by local law enforcement officials for making pornographic movies, in what he called a case of classical entrapment. He served 10 days in jail on a felony conviction. He also became ineligible for the draft.

The roots of Zappa's first legit band, The Mothers of Invention, have their source in 1964 just before Studio Z was torn down to make room for a wider road.

Zappa's friend, Ray Collins, was a lead vocalist for a band called the Soul Giants. The band had just lost their guitarist and Collins called Zappa to see if he wanted to play with the group. Collins was the lead vocalist, Roy Estrada played the bass, Jimmy Carl Black played drums and Dave Coranado blew the saxophone. Zappa accepted the offer and soon began to lead the group away from their traditional menu of tunes which included "The Midnight Hour", "Gloria" and "Louie, Louis". Zappa persuaded the group to do original songs. He also changed the group's name to Captain Glasspack and the Magic Mufflers. Coranado soon quit the band recognizing the Mufflers' future didn't look bright. Managers of clubs and lounges weren't interested in bands doing original or experimental music. After Studio Z was gone, Zappa and his band moved to Los Angeles.

By 1965 Zappa had changed the name of the band to The Mothers and the group began to attract some attention around the Los Angeles club circuit. The Mothers became known for their outlandish shows which featured strange costumes and stranger music. Zappa also had made contact with people in the record industry. These contacts eventually led to the signing of a November 1965 contract between Zappa's Mothers of Invention and MGM/Verve . The record company would stake $25,000 into the production of a first album: a unique two-record conceptual package to be called Freak Out. The material for the album was recorded at Sunset Highland Studios and at TT&G Studios, both in Los Angeles, during January 1996.. The album was released in July 1966, and represents the first of more than 50 albums by Zappa during an extraordinary musical career.

From the very beginning, Zappa was cutting edge.

Frank Zappa at the Cosmic Baseball Association

Frank Zappa Official Cosmic Batting Record
1981/82 Dragons of .328 64 11 4 1
1983 Pisces of .120 75 9 1 8
1988 Dragons lf .225 431 97 10 47
Total 3 Seasons .205 570 117 15 56
1997 Franklinton Zappas Team Owner

POS-Position, BA-Batting Average, AB-At Bats
H-Hits, HR-Homeruns, RBI-Runs Batted In

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CBA Special Plate: Frank Zappa Honored Cosmic Player
Published: August 29, 1997
Updated: March 17, 2000; August 24, 2000
Copyright © 1997 by the Cosmic Baseball Association