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Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  70 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews

In 1967, 21-year-old Pauline Butcher was working for a London secretarial agency when one evening a call came through from a Mr Frank Zappa asking for a typist to come to his hotel room. The assignment would change her life forever.

After this chance encounter with the charismatic musician, at Frank’s request Pauline moved with him, his family and his band the Mothers of I

Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Plexus Publishing (first published September 11th 2011)
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From BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama:
In 1967 Pauline Butcher, a conventional English secretary, was sent to a London hotel on a typing assignment. The client turned out to be avant-garde American musician Frank Zappa. Frank asked Pauline to type out the lyrics of his album, Absolutely Free, a task she found extremely baffling. Out of this chance encounter, and unlikely meeting of minds, a friendship quickly grew, and Pauline was invited to go and work for Frank in Los Angeles, where the regular vi
May 03, 2013 Spike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When All is said and done amongst the Canon (non-biblical) of books written about Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention there will be none to compare with Pauline Butcher's unique take on events at the Log Cabin (Frank's House) and happenings therein. Mrs. Butcher was hired to be FZ's secretariat from 1968 throughout 1972 but unlike the rest of the adulating hangers on she came to her job a proper British woman who only slowly learned who Frank was through meeting him, being there and livin ...more
Örn Leifsson
Mar 06, 2013 Örn Leifsson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is a great read and an absolute must for Zappa fans.
This is though not a Zappa biography but the story of Pauline and how her live changes when she became Zappa's secretary in the late 60's and early 70's. It's full of interesting stories about these times and the life around Zappa and The Mothers and all the interesting characters that were around Zappa in those days. Pauline describes Zappa very well and manages to bring to live the atmosphere of the late 60's and how the times were
Pauline  Butcher Bird
If you want to know what it was like to live at the log cabin, Frank Zappa's abode in 1968, where every rock star of the day dropped by along with a variety of freaks, then read this delightful book by a young, straight English girl who, by pure chance, found herself doing just that. Based on the letters she wrote home weekly, Pauline describes in great detail visits by Mick Jagger, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd and others, while Frank Zappa ploughed on regardless composing at his g ...more
Jan 20, 2012 Bert rated it liked it
It could've been shorter, but it was likeable enough and frothy and candid, an insider's coming-of-age tale, although Pauline makes an unlikely insider, prudish, and almost charmingly naive. Zappa himself is captured vividly, portrayed as ambitious, infuriating, warm, a bit of a shit, but genuinely enigmatic, you also get some GTO's, Jagger, Hollywood at the end of the 60's - my favourite bit; Noel Redding's 'in-depth' diary extracts - 'Went to gig, went down a bomb, Hendrix did a moody, may hav ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Tilden rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This was a quick enjoyable read with lots of details regarding the day-to-day lifestyle of FZ, the Mothers & peripheral characters. If you're looking for musical or technical information, this isn't a resource. But if you're interested in a naive British girl that's totally out her element coping with the freaks and rock'n'rollers, this should entertain you.
Dec 23, 2015 Brandon rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this behind the scenes look at FZ's life from his loyal secretary "Par-leen". Butcher's story focuses on the years 1967 to 1972 and without being trashy dishes some good dirt on what it was like to work for the musical genius Zappa.

Although the author was mesmerized by Frank's talent, she was not reserved about giving the boss some what for when necessary. Included are some interesting descriptions of encounters with other big stars of the time including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and
Aug 29, 2013 Eduardo rated it it was amazing
If you're a Frank Zappa fan and already read his official bio, 'The Real Frank Zappa Book,' and maybe a few other unofficial tomes penned by professional pundits or former band members, you won't find a fresher, more insightful and, unlike Nigey Lennon's questionable memoirs, BELIEVABLE account of this complicated musical genius than Pauline Butcher's 'Freak Out!' Here's a desperately needed FEMALE perspective of what made Frank so irresistible to so many people despite his innate chauvinism, di ...more
Nov 27, 2014 Dierregi rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies, rock
If you are interested in the 60's as a period of change, excitement, hope for the future and great music, this book might be for you. Even if you are not an hardcore Zappa fan, like me. I am not in the least an admirer of Zappa's music (I like some of his stuff, but on the whole, it's not my thing at all). However, I previously read a book by Pamela Des Barres and since she mentioned Zappa with great affection, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.
Besides, I thought that the time an location
Nov 04, 2013 Aimee rated it liked it
Shelves: autobios
A sweet memoir of how young, sheltered model-come-secretary Pauline Butcher, an English girl finding her way in the world, changes the course of her life by a chance meeting with Frank Zappa. Her descriptions of life at FZ's bohemian home in Laurel Canyon are very interesting. Although she is put off by how he seems to criticize everyone and everything, as well as his chauvinism and his occasional cold, calculating demeanor, she clearly is fond of him. Multiple times throughout the book Butcher ...more
Barry Hammond
Feb 28, 2013 Barry Hammond rated it liked it
Pauline Butcher, a British part-time typist and modelling teacher, through a chance meeting became Frank Zappa's secretary at a crucial time in his musical career: when the Mothers Of Invention were starting to become popular in the alternative music scene from 1968 to 1972. Her account of being an insider at a volatile time is fascinating with its honesty about the power struggles, back-biting, jealousies, and harsh reality behind the preceived glamour of the rock world. An interesting and insi ...more
Sean O'Brien
Jul 14, 2014 Sean O'Brien rated it really liked it
Funny, candid and revealing.
Tingsley Bloodbubble
If you'd like to know what I thought of this book, please contact me directly and I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

All the best,

- TB
Sep 08, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it
Never was a fan of his music, but a story of the crazy life in Laurel Canyon from an English perspective was enjoyable to read.
Monkey King
May 10, 2013 Monkey King rated it liked it
Nice insight on the life of FZ outside of the music stuff. Stories of living with FZ and family. Interesting info on the private life of FZ between 1968 and 1971. Connections with rock stars that I did not know Frank even knew or had met. Pauline is a Brit who gets thrown deep into the freaks world in Laurel Canyon. Nice to hear about the world of rock during those days. A good read for any FZ fan.
David Holtzclaw
Sep 12, 2013 David Holtzclaw rated it really liked it
Pauline's account of life with the Zappas is funny, poignant, & quite entertaining.It certainly shows a different side of the man himself, revealing a kindness, possibly not perceived by his fans.I particularly enjoyed the visits of various rock stars & wanderers, invading the Laurel Canyon
compound.It's a must read for Zappafiles & music nuts alike!
Dec 29, 2015 M. rated it really liked it
Pauline takes you to her life and somehow you're part of "Frank's Flying Circus" daylife.
She lived in a lot of people's dream for sure, but showed how the reality is. For real!
Great book.
Oct 11, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
It's great.
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