Barry Miles Frank Zappa

ISBN 13: 9781843540922

Frank Zappa

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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.

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About the Author:

Barry Miles is author of many seminal books on popular culture, including the authorised biography of Paul McCartney, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now; Ginsberg: A Biography; William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible; Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats and The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963.

From Publishers Weekly:

Pop culture biographer Miles (Paul McCartney; Ginsberg; etc.) paints an engrossing portrait of the troubled musical genius who died of prostate cancer in 1993 at age 52. Zappa endured a peripatetic youth and an early brush with the law that fueled his trademark anti-authoritarian strain; his musical brilliance eventually transformed him from class clown into one of rock's major icons, with such landmark records as We're Only in It for the Money and Joe's Garage. Miles skillfully weaves together the major beats and minor notes of Zappa's remarkable life, no small feat given the musician's many contradictions: he was a hard-rocking star, but also a meticulous, studious composer influenced by Varèse and Stravinsky; he despised drug use and the trappings of stardom, but he loved groupies (he partook of their favors freely, eventually marrying one and fathering...children). A virtuoso, a perfectionist and a shrewd businessman, Zappa alienated, sued or otherwise offended nearly everyone in his life at some point; he especially loved tormenting his audience. Miles hits the ups and downs of Zappa's life like a skilled composer in his own right, and he captures the contentious eras (from the late 1950s on) in which Zappa's genius emerged. The result is a penetrating look both at Zappa and at the social and political milieu in which popular rock music stepped to the fore.
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Miles, Barry
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