Blow Your Harmonica, Son!

I was working late shift one night in 1967; alone in the office, waiting for the clock to go round to quarter to the hour so I could go out for the next ob, and listening to Radio Caroline.  The DJ made some comment about “the weirdest thing you ever heard in your life” and then played this: –

I was smitten; the middle section was the coolest piece of chaos on vinyl.  A few weeks later I read that the Mothers were coming to London, so I went down to a travel agency in town and tried to persuade them to get me tickets for the concert on September 23rd.  They had no luck so me and my friend Michael drove up to town in my 1955 Morris Minor (just passed my driving test) and got scalped at the door for two tickets at 12/6 each (face value 7/6); and they were for seats behind the stage, too.

Definitely a night to remember; Don Preston galloping up the steps two at a time to play ‘Louie Louie’ on the famous organ, the guy in the audience who came up on stage to play the trumpet very badly, and one of the first public performances of King Kong.  Admittedly, there were a couple of times I wasn’t too sure about what I was hearing but I put that down to my taste being insufficiently extreme.  (The night was also memorable for the minor traffic accident I had on the way home, but no real damage done.  Thank heavens for proper steel bumpers.)

That was the start of a musical love story that is still going.  Yes, I know he could be (was) a cynical, misanthropic martinet whose creations sometimes bordered on the offensive.  But he was still one of the greatest composers (in any field) of the 20th century.

R.I.P. Frank Zappa, who died on this date in 1993 and would have been 70 years old on December 21st.  Hope they’ve got Gibson SG harps up there, Frank.

“The present day composer refuses to die!”


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