Gail Zappa died.

I wasn’t aware she was ill.


Very, very sad to hear this. She was the embodiment of the adage that behind every great man is a woman. RIP Pumpkin.

One of the saddest things I ever heard came from Gail: “Frank just didn’t do love.”

That explains a lot.

However he was clearly devoted to his family and their security. He was a difficult person, but then Gail had a tough as nails reputation as well. Despite all the flak she received over the years for being aggressively litigious and doggedly defending his trademarks against any and all, I’m sure she was following his own wishes to a “T”. And through it all she continued to release his archival music and actively manage his past catalog.

RIP. Whatever else you can say, she worked to keep Frank Zappa’s legacy from sliding into obscurity and tried her best to add to it.

It’s said that he was indeed a brilliant musician… but didn’t do people very well at all.

Frank Zappa: *I don’t have ‘friends.’ Anybody who is ‘the boss’ in a business does not get to have ‘friends’ – he gets to have employees and/or acquaintances – and no matter what he does, they will always dislike him because he has the nerve to sign their paychecks.

I don’t have any time for ‘social activities.’ I do, however, have a wonderful wife and four totally unbelievable children, and that, folks, is way better.*

I always felt a little sorry for him. To me he always came off ( at a distance obviously, I never knew the man ) less like an abusive asshole and more as a demanding obsessive. Which at the end of the day can probably be just as bad.

In the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, he didn’t come across well; he apparently showed up on day one giving orders, and continually shot down gag ideas he didn’t like. I remember seeing the episode, and noting a certain tension when he was on set. He made the list of “worst guest hosts,” and people Lorne Michaels would NOT have back on the show.

I can only wonder what it must have been like, living with the guy.

This year they finally released Dance Me This, one of the last recordings Frank worked on, and finally the Roxy movie. Two long promised, and long awaited releases. Almost as if she knew these were going to be her last projects.

In one of the retrospective books about SNL, somebody made the point that you can always tell how well or how poorly the guest host got on with the regular crew at the closing moments of the show: when everybody gets along well, the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time-Players are right up there with the guest host as s/he says “I had a wonderful time. Good night everybody!” and there’s a whole of lot of the shaking hands, hugging, “good job!” type stuff they show over the credits.

When the guest host is unpopular, the regulars hang back a little, not wanting to be near him or do the usual hugging and hand-shaking bit. During Zappa’s stint as guest host, the NRFPTP all stood at the VERY back of the stage, practically in the wings. Zappa basically stood there waving to the audience by himself.

Yeesh. He sounds difficult as hell. I am not very knowledgable about his work - it seems to favor listeners who really invest the time - but reading this thread crystallizes a vibe I have gotten from him which keeps me at a distance.

That’s not fair - there are many, many artists I love who behaved reprehensibly as humans. John Lennon immediately jumps to mind. But I guess I was drawn to the work first and encountered the difficulties as I was digging into the work.

Dude I know you are a big music fan… You are missing out.

I hear you. Too many people whose taste I respect like Zappa. But there’s so many artists I miss out on.