How Frank Zappa Created ‘Resentment’ Among Bandmates
Alex Winter, director of the new Frank Zappa documentary Zappa, said the eccentric artist had left many of his musical collaborators with “resentment” or “unresolved issues.”
But the Bill & Ted star insisted it was important to explore the truth behind the “paradoxical” history of Zappa’s career. The movie features rare exclusive interviews with his widow, Gail, who knew she was dying when she spoke on camera in 2015, and it was made with the support of the Zappa estate, run by his children. It premieres online on Nov. 27 and a trailer can be seen below.
“I wasn’t interested in making a typical music documentary about some rock star guitar hero,” Winter told the Guardian. “I was interested in who Frank Zappa was as a man and his relationship to his art and the world around him. What were his values and struggles? And I wanted to be honest about his contradictions, of which there were many. In Zappa-land everything is paradoxical.”
The director said Zappa discovered early in his career “how much animosity there was towards someone like him, just for being him.” However, towards the end of his life, Winter argued, he’d begun to achieve a level of respect that was “very satisfying.” He added: ”The part of the music world that dismissed Frank the most in his lifetime is now the one that takes him the most seriously. Now, most of the classical world considers him one of the greatest 20th-century composers that America has produced. They did not think that when he was alive.”
Despite that, Zappa was capable of being a “martinet,” he continued. “All of the musicians had varying degrees of resentment or unresolved issues with the way he just dispatched people after working with them. At the same time, they all looked at the period when they worked with him as the most fruitful of their artistic lives.”
Winter noted: “People are human and it hurts, and [Gail] says so in the film. There’s no doubt he was a sexist.”