Frank Zappa (Dec. 21, 1940-Dec. 4, 1993)
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Zappa was a vocal opponent of censorship. He testified against the Parents Music Resource Center at the infamous Frankenchrist obscenity trial, in which the Dead Kennedys were brought to court for "distribution of harmful matter to minors." Zappa said that the PMRC's methods were equivalent to "treating dandruff with decapitation." (thanks, Andrew - Tucson, AZ)
He released at least 60 albums. Frank's album Apostrophe(') is his only album to puncture Billboard's Top 10. The title track on the album is an instrumental featuring drummer Jim Gordon and Cream bassist Jack Bruce. (thanks, Darrell - Kalkaska, MI)
He has daughters named Moon Unit and Diva and sons named Dweezil and Ahmet.
Lowell George was one of Zappa's musicians before he formed Little Feat.
Zappa produced albums for Alice Cooper, Captain Beefheart, and Grand Funk.
Most of his songs were parodies, but the musicianship was so good that radio stations played them anyway.
He played a crime boss named "Mr. Frankie" on an episode of Miami Vice in 1986.
Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991. He died 2 years later.
His album Jazz from Hell was the only instrumental album ever labeled with the PMRC's "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" label. (thanks, Adam - Dubois, IN)
While playing The Rainbow in London in 1971, a man named Trevor Howell jumped onstage and attacked Zappa, knocking him into the orchestra pit 15 feet below. Along with a number of cuts, bruises, and broken bones, Zappa's Larynx was crushed, lowering the pitch of his voice by one third for the rest of his life. (thanks, Bob - Tokyo, Japan, for above 2)
Zappa formed The Mothers of Invention in 1964. They released 3 albums before breaking up in 1969.
In one of Franks last interviews with Jamie Gangel from NBC, when asked how he wanted to be remembered, he responded that he didn't want to be remembered at all. (thanks, Tom - Marble Falls, AR)
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Brad Smith of Blind Melon
The Blind Melon bassist/songwriter tells the story of "No Rain," which he wrote before the band was formed.