Zappa Strasse

According to Gary Lucas in a 1996 interview for Seconds magazine, Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet’s last meeting was embarassing and distressing. Frank owned the rights to Bat Chain Puller, tracks from which Don wanted to use on Ice Cream for Crow. After some fruitless negotiation Don and Gary decided to confront Zappa face-to-face and ask for the use of the material. Zappa refused, saying, “Unless you buy all the masters back from me, it’s not worth it for me to split up the set. It won’t be worth that much out there in Beefheart-land.”

Frank Zappa is generally acknowledged to have been a shrewd businessman and none of Captain Beefheart’s Bat Chain Puller has yet been released. Nor has even more Captain Beefheart material which some people suspect is contained in the famous Zappa vaults. It is now, of course, to Frank Zappa’s widow that any question of permissions should be addressed and anyone having anything to do with Frank Zappa’s music is aware of this.

It is strange then, that when on Saturday a street in Berlin was renamed after Frank Zappa, the organisers of the accompanying festivities were in receipt of a letter from lawyers representing Mrs Zappa. Somehow it had escaped the organisers attention that there were protocols to be followed in dealing with the widow of a famous composer, as Ed Mann, former Frank Zappa stalwart, explained to Kill Ugly Radio.

I am told that the celebration of the street-naming was, however, a great success.

Photograph of Frank Zappa Strasse sign © Peter Laskie 2007

5 Comments »

  1. Dai w says:

    I think its very sad that there could be other Beefheart songs hidden away(besides bat chain puller)that we havent hered. If this is true why are they hanging on to them ? surely they could make a fast buck out of it,if thats what they are interested in and we could all have some new beefheart music to keep us going.Or is it the fact that any beefheart hidden gems would outshine any potential zappa material. Dont get me wrong I like Zappa but i love the captain !!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Get real – that’s not a real Frank Zappa quote… man “It won’t be worth that much out there in Beefheart-land.” Yeah, right… I don’t doubt that there was tension between the two, but that quote is just ridiculous and childish. This article is obviously written by a pro-Beefheart/con-Zappa extremist unless there actually is audio to confirm this quote…?

  3. Graham Johnston says:

    Before you accuse us of making up quotes in some kind of warped anti-Zappa propaganda war, I suggest that you a) follow the link to the eye-witness account which contains that quote and b) count the number of Zappa records in our collections. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but someone has to say it…
    Gail is a pain in the ass!

  5. joem says:

    Ok here's the thing. Zappa spent his entire life protecting his "brand" after being completely shafted by WB and various other record companies and their endless trough of leach attorney's Zappa won his material and copyrights. His legacy and genius now controlled by the Zappa family Trust. His family is now ensured the royalties of a lifetime of creativity the likes of which we may never see in our lifetime. Today artists are fighting everyday to protect their music and the internet and record companies have made it so tough that bands only make money touring. Piracy is rampant. Zappa saw this in the 60's. He controlled his musicians, his recordings and his compositions. He wanted full control over what was released in his name….his brand. So owning the master tapes of recordings he produced is still his brand. The Family Trust now has to decide what course to take. If you look at the vast body of work Zappa put out there and the complete lack of commercial relevancy its clear to me this ain't about the money. Not saying Zappa didn't care about money he clearly did but it was strictly on his terms and his work. If his work was a flop and no one paid to see him I'm sure he would have died in obscurity as a starving artist unknown to any of us. I don't think Zappa's work is fully realized yet. To listen to ZPZ play the compositions today put a tear in my eye. I'm sure the Beefheart stuff will be released. But I have to figure the Trust is very particular what they release and when. One day that vault will be open. The gems inside are priceless and they know it. I'm also positive the business sense Frank had has been imparted to Gale and the entire family. The legacy is a huge responsibility. Imagine being Beethoven's wife?

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