Frank Vincent Zappa (born December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States – December 4, 1993 in Los Angeles, California, United States) was an American composer, guitarist, singer, bandleader and producer. He was one of the most prolific musicians of his time, releasing over fifty albums of original material spanning over a thirty-five year career.
Zappa's earliest influences were 1950s pop and rock (such as doo-wop and rhythm and blues), and 20th-century classical composers including Igor Stravinsky and Edgard Varèse. His output was divided between adventurous instrumental compositions and succinct, catchy rock songs with ribald, satirical, or comically absurd lyrics. On stage he demanded virtuosity and spontaneity from his musicians, and employed many performers who would later go on to achieve fame in their own rights. He directed and released a number of films featuring himself, his musicians and entourage, including 200 Motels and Baby Snakes.
His career started in 1955. His earliest recordings date from the mid-1960s, and include collaborations with his school friend Captain Beefheart. In 1965 he joined a bar-band called The Soul Giants, quickly dominating its musical direction and rechristening it The Mothers. Their first release (as The Mothers of Invention; the name alteration requested by their record company) was the 1966 double album Freak Out!. The line-up of the Mothers gradually expanded to accommodate Zappa's increasingly ambitious and avant-garde music, but by 1969 he decided to work outside the band structure, focusing on his solo career, and effectively disbanding the Mothers in 1971.
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