Yes, it’s real.

Don Vliet's graduation photograph

This is the graduation photograph listed for one Don Vliet in the high school yearbook at Antelope Valley High School, Lancaster, CA.

Having jokingly claimed to have only spent half a day at kindergarten, this photograph would suggest otherwise. However, it is still possible that he did drop out as claimed. When I asked one person who was actually at school with both Don and Frank Zappa about this photograph, she replied:

“Don dropped out sometime during his senior year and probably didn’t actually graduate. Knowing him, he probably found a way to don the cap and gown and get his picture taken just for chuckles.”

Alternatively, many schools take graduation pictures early and it is possible that Don dropped out in the time between having his photograph taken and when he would have actually graduated.

Anyway, whatever the story behind it, that’s definately Don in the picture. As a bonus here is the graduation photograph of Frank Zappa from the same school, a photograph which you may be more familar with:

Frank Zappa's graduation photograph

3 Comments »

  1. Jeff Holliman says:

    Did Don and frank go to school together? Did they hang out together while going to school?

  2. Abel Ashes says:

    Yes, they spent a lot of time together listening to blues records. The first ever recording of either of them making music is of the two of them together along with Frank’s brother Bobby doing an original song they came up with called Lost In A Whirlpool with Don on vocals and Frank and Bobby on guitars. It’s on the Frank Zappa album The Lost Episodes.

    • AJ says:

      A lost classic: Lost In A Whirlpool, but still available on the Cucamonga, Studio Z recordings if you can find it.

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