Frank Zappa was a musician born December 21, 1940. He played guitar, keyboards, synclavier(synth/sampler), and vocals. He was born Frank Vincent Zappa in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up with interest in multiple genres of music. In 1965, Zappa joined the Mothers of Invention (previously the Soul Giants and later, simply the Mothers). Zappa greatly extended the range of rock, composing oratorios, symphonic pieces, ballets, digitized extravaganzas for the Synclavier keyboard, and satirical musicals. A brilliant guitar soloist who recruited similarly adventurous musicians, Zappa helped further the art of improvisation in a rock context. Over the years, his ensembles included such notable musicians as keyboardist George Duke and guitarist Steve Vai.
Zappa was one of rock and roll’s brightest musical mind and a very perceptive social critic. He was the most productive composer of his time. Zappa combined genres – rock, jazz, classical, avant-garde and even novelty music into beautiful compositions. During his career he recorded 60 albums worth of songs in 52 years. He was originally with the band "Mothers of Invention" and then his self titled band, Frank Zappa. Many albums or CDs where twice the size of normal ones, making the frequency of his work exceptional. Zappa was always composing, recording, editing and performing music. He helped produce and did collaborations with: Captain Beefheart, Jean-Luc Ponty, Grand Funk Railroad, Wild Man Fischer, the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin’s Ensemble Modern
Zappa’s work sold largely to a core audience who faithfully attended his concerts and bought his records. His popularity with a broader audience peaked in 1973-74 with the albums Over-nite Sensation and Apostrophe, which married crude humor and virtuoso playing; both went gold (500,000 copies sold). Zappa also went on to win a Grammy for his 1986 album Jazz from Hell.
Frank often objected with the way things were being handled by the government. He was known as a grouch and a difficult person. Zappa confronted the corrupt politics and lifestyles of his countrymen to unforgiving scrutiny. He founded the artist-run independent record label. In the Sixties, he made fun of middle-class morals in the song “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” and sang about the climate of racial inequality and discord on “Trouble Every Day”. In the Seventies, he riddiculued everything, from disco music to new-age movements. In the Eighties, he mixed his only Top Forty hit, “Valley Girl,”
In 1993, Frank Zappa died at age 52 of prostate cancer. Before he died however, he mixed and sequenced material from his archive to ensure the release of albums after his passing.