Unconventional and challenging, Frank Zappa pushed the musical envelope further than most of his contemporaries. Fusing blues, rock and experimental jazz with surreal and humorous lyrics, he set the bar for those who chose to follow in his footsteps, such as Alice Cooper, Funkadelic and the Butthole Surfers.
However, there’s much more to the man than his desire to think outside the box. His ability to charm a solo from a guitar is evident on countless Zappa songs, such as Dog Breath, Cosmik Debris and Muffin Man. Complex arrangements and experimental soundscapes created some fantastically-bizarre works, such as the 11-minute Return of the Son of Monster Magnet, from his debut album with The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!
Much of the ’70s saw Zappa confined to a wheelchair after he was thrown from the stage by a member of the audience, jealous of his girlfriend’s obsession with the musician. However, this didn’t hamper his creativity, and he went on to release a series of solo albums. The most notable, Apostrophe, was released in 1974 and went straight into the Top Ten. In typical Zappa style, it remains an eccentric work, with the first half of the album telling the tale of Nanook the Eskimo Boy, through songs such as Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.
An extraordinary musician, Zappa died in 1993