Guitar Raven

Frank Zappa’s
70th Birthday

The self-taught guitar hero of Baltimore, who left his indelible watermark on rock, jazz and contemporary classical music, is also celebrated today in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the world for his stance on artistic freedom.
An accomplished musician, who recorded over 60 albums in a variety of styles, Zappa was also that rare bread of artist, the truly thinker, with highly articulated ideas about the popular culture’s role in society.
Way before being fully understood in the U.S., Zappa had already become an inspiration for generations of Eastern Europeans, and the Czech Republic’s first president, the poet Václav Havel, was a personal fan.
Zappa’s defense of freedom of speech took him to testify to the Senate, in 1985, against efforts to censure mainly rap lyrics deemed too violent or sexually explicit by a group of wives of politicians, including Al Gore’s former wife, Tipper Gore.
He outlived his famed group, the Mothers of Invention, and went on to produce and direct experimental movies, while still touring regularly. He died in 1993 of inoperable prostate cancer. Great part of his work is still to be remastered and released on the latest digital technology.
Now we know why Don Van Vliet, the Captain Beefheart, was in such a hurry to depart this world, which he did less than a week ago: he certainly didn’t want to miss the jam session up in heavens celebrating his high school buddy’s 70th birthday.

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