Self-taught American composer, electric guitarist, singer and songwriter Frank Zappa was born in Maryland on 21 December 1940 to parents of Italian and French descent. Whilst at school he became interested in the experimental percussion-based music of Edgard Varèse and also in 1950s rhythm and blues, and began writing classical music. This developed into an eclectic style which became difficult to categorize.
In the 1960s he was guitarist in the band The Mothers of Invention.
Zappa wrote his own lyrics to his songs, and these reflected his criticism of education, religion, the establishment and censorship.
He died in Los Angeles on 4 December 1993, aged 52, leaving a reputation as one of the most original composers and guitarists of his time, but remains as a strong influence on many contemporary composers and other musicians.
A selection of M&V articles about Frank Zappa
CD Spotlight. Zapped Fugues - Michael Kieran Harvey's tribute to Frank Zappa impresses Gordon Rumson. 'The virtuosity is astounding.'
Limitless Combinatorics - Eric Pettine postulates 'No Shortage of Melodies Anytime Soon', and offers some real hope for cynical musicians who think they've heard it all
CD Spotlight. New ears - The primeTime sublime Community Orchestra, reviewed by Robert Hugill. '... this whole disc is about horrifying purists.'