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Barry Miles knew Frank Zappa intimately and was present at the recording of some of his most important albums. This sparkling biography brings the Zappa the musician and composer, Zappa the controversialist and Zappa the family man (despite his love of groupies, he was married for more than 30 years) together for the first time.
Barry Miles' biography follows Zappa from his sickly Italian-American childhood in the 1940s (when his father, Frank senior, worked for the US military and was used to test the efficacy of new biological warfare agents) to his death from cancer in the 1990s. Miles shows how Zappa's goal had been to become a classical composer, until he realised that he would starve to death pursuing this ambition in post-war America. In an effort to make music people would actually listen to, in the mid-1960s he joined a noisy new band called 'The Mothers of Invention'. Before long, Zappa had taken over as singer, song writer and lead guitarist and together they exploded on to the San Francisco freak scene. Following the release of recordings such as Freak Out, Absolutely Free, We're Only In It For the Money and Hot Rats, Zappa's reputation in the United States and in Europe, especially the UK, Germany and Holland, took off. When the Berlin wall fell, Frank was surprised to learn that his extravagant music embodied sixties liberty for a generation of dissidents (including Vaclav Havel, who invited Zappa to be his minister for culture). Frank Zappa is an authoritative and hugely enjoyable portrait of a singular man and a vivid evocation of the West Coast scene.