Thursday, March 09, 2006


Frank Zappa in concert at MacArthur Court in Eugene, Oregon, March 27, 1980-- I was a senior at the University of Oregon when this picture was taken, I lived about a five-minute walk away from Mac Court, and I couldn't have cared less that I was missing this at the time. Of course now it's agonizing and annoying to think I was too dumb to take advantage of what would become an increasingly rare opportunity to see Zappa live. He quit touring with his rock band in 1988, and although I was lucky enough to see Banned from Utopia, a regrouping of key instrumentalists and vocalists from his touring bands, including Bruce Fowler, Albert Wing, Kurt McKendrick, Walt Fowler, Chad Wackerman and Ike Willis, several times in the late '90s, I never saw Zappa perform live. Thanks to the Web site Eugene Torrents for the great picture and for the set list from that March 1980 show.)

In the midst of putting together part 4 of “81 Candles of Robert Altman,” the last installment of my Robert Altman retrospective, I found my energy waning on this Thursday evening. It’s the third night in a row I haven’t had office work that I had to stay up late to finish, I feel some sort of cold or something coming on, there’s the possibility of a weekend of rain showers on the horizon, and it’s all conspired to make me feel very sleepy. So to a good night’s rest I go, and pledge I shall to finish and post Altman part four tomorrow night. But before I pull the covers up over my head, on to a little treat for some of you (and a major annoyance to others of you, I’m sure). Yesterday, my wife turned me on to the joys of, a video sharing site that seems to be a bottomless treasure chest of all sorts of video clips and short films, one of those sites you can spend far too much time mindlessly searching for every imaginable bit of minutiae, having pretty good luck unearthing lots of what you want and discovering lots of stuff you didn’t know existed. It was here tonight that I hit a mother lode of terrific Frank Zappa clips, including a piece from a spectacular short set that I originally saw (and taped on my trusty Betamax) on the old USA Network late-night weekend show Night Flight. It made me feel really good to see it again, and I wanted to post a link to it before gets too popular and ends up going the way of Napster and other free file-sharing services. So, without further ado, from 1981, Frank Zappa, with a band including Steve Vai, Ray White, Chad Wackerman and a host of others, and an excellent live rendition of "Montana", originally heard on the classic album Overnite Sensation.


Peter Nellhaus said...

I saw Zappa and his then current version of the Mothers in late May 1970 at the Fillmore East. I just remember that they were excellent on stage, and Zappa began by shooting a squirt gun at the audience. I was in the eighth row as I recall.

In September or October of 1970 I actually had a brief conversation with Zappa. At the time, some NYU students lived at the 1 Fifth Avenue Hotel, which is where musicians playing the Fillmore East would stay. My friends were shocked to see me having a one on one conversation with Frank Zappa in the lobby.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Dennis — We had a surprisingly similar experience. It might have been the same college tour. I was attending Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. in the early '80s and he played the basketball fieldhouse there. I thought, eh, I'll catch him some other time, and have regretted it ever since.

Brian said...

"Montana" is still my favorite Zappa song. What can I say, I'm one of those guys who gets suckered in by the smash hits.

Roscoe said...

Everyone must see the clip of Zappa on Crossfire. He's absolutely amazing in the line of fire, when they are blasting him about the morality of rock music. A true messiah of reason.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Roscoe: I'd actually considered posting that one as well, and I may do so in the near future. I remember seeing that episode of Crossfire when it aired and thinking, "You know, if this guy ever runs for president..."

p.saga said...

Thanks, Dennis, for some smashing Sunday morning entertainment! In between shots of caffe', I read your entry aloud to my guy, a huge Zappa fan and graduate of Zappa U, and then we bonded over the "Montana" video. I'd never seen Zappa perform/conduct/hold a microphone in poofy clothes before, and it was a precious learning experience!

But I totally agree with what's-his-face opposite Zappa on CROSSFIRE. (Weren't they all ganging up on him though? Wasn't he amazing? So heroically composed and eloquent. I'm adding that show to my burgeoning collection of First Amendment stuff.) I was 10 years old in 1986, and just look at how I turned out. "Hot for Teacher" and Twisted Sister certainly "warped my fragile little mind"!

YouTube: Yet another reason I'm not bothering to get a TV anytime soon. Take my DSL away though, and things will get ugly fast.