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April 16, 2006


David Ocker

------I am also seeking confirmation that Zapaa really did ask for, as a childhood birthday present, a phone call to the avant-garde composer Edgard Varese.-----

In Frank's home recording studio UMRK was a framed, hand-written letter to Frank from Varèse, dated sometime in the 50s. I don't remember the exact words but Varèse was saying that he regretted not getting the chance to speak with Frank.

Frank tells the story in his biography "The Real Frank Zappa Book" on page 33. Frank says he was 15 years old and when he called Varèse was in Brussels working on Poème électronique.

So, yeah, probably that story is true.

However -- do not ever believe that Frank went to Darmstadt. That's pure hokum.


Zappa and Beefheart intersected in the early 60's, and then formed their bands after that intersection. Beefheart's "Safe As Milk" and the Mirror Man Sessions showed a heavy blues base - while Zappa was more grounded in doo-wop. Take a listen to two albums preceding "Trout Mask" then try to find "Lick The Decals off Me" and the growth is staggering, yet on cuts like "Electricity" you can tell where Beefheart was going to go.

Zappa, I think, was a convenient friend to have when Beefheart needed a producer...

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