On many levels — creative, personal, and business-related — 1979 would go down as a banner year in the long and storied career of Frank Zappa. But perhaps nothing else accomplished during those significant 365 days left as large and lasting an impact as the double album cheekily named ‘Sheik Yerbouti,’ which arrived in stores on March 3.
Like much of the material that came out under Frank Zappa's name in the late '70s, 1979's 'Sleep Dirt' has a complicated history. Also like much of the work that ended the artist's most prolific decade, 'Sleep Dirt' had its roots in a shelved, four-LP set that Zappa's record company refused to release.
Frank Zappa's live shows, much like his studio albums, were regarded as much for their irreverent playfulness as their technical virtuosity: They were wildly unpredictable, genre-hopping musical sideshows that united freaks and misfits of all varieties. But on Dec. 10, 1971, that chaotic unpredictability turned ugly, when disgruntled fan Trevor Charles Howell pushed Zappa off the stage at London's Rainbow Theatre, inflicting multiple injuries upon the versatile guitarist and composer, ultimately leaving him bound to a wheelchair.
Frank Zappa was one of the most innovative and versatile rock musicians of his generation, creating a vast body of work that encompassed almost every genre of music -- but he wouldn't have wanted to hear it. The mercurial genius actively resisted those kinds of labels and effusive public praise, focusing instead on the work itself in a career that spanned more than three decades. He died on Dec. 4, 1993 at the age of 52 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
On Dec. 2, 1968, a mysterious group of pompadoured cartoon faces turned back the clock of music history to highlight the golden era of doo-wop with their self-referencing album ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets.’
If Frank Zappa was still alive, you can bet he'd be the last person who'd want to celebrate the anniversary of 'Studio Tan,' an album he didn't sanction, sequence, or even approve cover art for. He was caught in a legal battle with Warner Bros. Records and former manager Herb Cohen at the time. On top of that, none of the songs included on 'Studio Tan' were even recorded in 1978; most of the tracks allegedly date from sessions between 1974 and 1976, with a couple of cuts even going as far back as 1969.