Category Archives: Music

Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen Show

Wanna know something? When you search “Frank Zappa on Miami Vice,” You Tube starts showing you some weird-ass shit.  Here is a young Mr. Zappa on the Steve Allen Show in 1963, playing music on a bicycle. No, not “playing music while riding a bicycle,” but actually playing music on a bicycle. The way Einstürzende Neubauten would later play music on the side of a bridge, etc. Or the way John Cage played music on prepared piano. Zappa’s is weirder.

I should probably warn you that it’s also excruciatingly boring, as the Steve Allen Show tended to be. Watching variety TV from those days is a little like spending time with an assortment of your dullest friends and some interesting ones who have been drugged into a stupor.

Interestingly, both the announcer and Steve pronounce Frank Zappa’s name “Zoppa,” rhymes with “Papa.”

I guess that in 1963, being of Sicilian descent probably meant you got your name mispronounced all the time. (I’m looking at you, Michael Corleone.)

Perhaps this contributed to the title of Zappa’s legendary unreleased four-disc set for Warner Bros, “Läther” (pronounced “leather”). Yeah… or not.

Frank Zappa Deals “Weasel Dust” on Miami Vice

Here is Frank Zappa dealing “weasel dust” on Miami Vice. He looks roughly as high as Henry Hill toward the end of “Goodfellas,” but way less stressed-out. And why should he be stressed out? He’s Frank Zappa.

Herein, Mr. Zappa attempts to settle accounts with “Burnett, a two-bit player trying to get into the weasel dust industry.” Hilarity ensues, and naturally, things end as all Miami Vice scenes should. No, that’s not a spoiler… they ALL end that way, as I recall.

Zappa, by the way, did not do drugs, and did not really approve of them, but strenuously opposed the War on Drugs on political grounds.

From this clip, however, I’d say he must have been a method actor. This guy has definitely been snorting “weasel dust.”

Thanks to Dangerous Minds for conjuring this strange echo from my misspent youth.