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The Real Frank Zappa Book

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  4,410 Ratings  ·  212 Reviews
The legendary Frank Zappa, one of the most influential, innovative and controversial musical artists for the past 20 years, takes us on a wild, funny trip through his life and times. Along the way, Zappa offers his inimitable views on many things such as art, politics and beer.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 3rd 1990 by Picador USA (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 27, 2015 Robin rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, music
I greatly enjoyed the first part of this book. Zappa’s humorous look at his early years and musical experiences is entertaining and somewhat informative. As the book progresses, though, it becomes more of a series of rants against his various critics and pet peeves. Several of Zappa’s associates have noted that this account is largely fictionalized, tending to reflect Zappa as a more just and generous character than he actually was. I recommend reading Barry Miles’ “Frank Zappa” first, to break ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Katie rated it it was amazing
Whether you like Frank Zappa's music or not (of course you do), I can't recommend this book is Hilarious (note the capital "H")...he had a terrific perspective on the world, and the most perfect sense of humor. I want to read it again just thinking about it.
East Bay J
I started paging through The Real Frank Zappa Book in an effort to generate band name ideas and ended up reading the entire thing cover to cover. I attribute this to three things; Zappa had an interesting life, he had interesting things to say and he was able to talk about things in an interesting manner.

TRFZB is part autobiography and part philosophical exploration, the exploration being of Zappa’s mind in the form of theories, beliefs and ideas. Frankly (HA HA HA HA… sorry, couldn’t help it),
Feb 10, 2014 HeavyReader rated it really liked it
Recommended to HeavyReader by: Michael Schneider
Shelves: funny, life-stories, music
I read this book so long ago.

It belonged to my boyfriend at the time, Michael Schneider. We were on a road trip from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where he grew up. We were going to visit his family. I was meeting his family for the first time. We had car trouble and ended up getting stuck in Effingham, Illinois. I read this book while we waited for car repairs. It was hilarious and I laughed out loud a lot. It saved my sanity.

Here's the poem i wrote about that trip, which includes a bit about this
Nov 01, 2012 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me say right off that I love Frank Zappa. His albums, especially 'Freak Out' and 'We're Only in it For the Money,' were part of the soundtrack of my youth. They added their own secret herbs to the olio of my musical personality. But this book is a disappointment. It's got way, way too much about his appearance before Congress and his disdain for organized religion (though God knows I love zingers against politicians and Jerry Falwell--but just because he's right doesn't make it not boring) ...more
Nov 09, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant and very funny book. It has great insights into the current state of America, music, politics, televangelism, and much more. The biography of Zappa is only a small part of the book. The rest is devoted to his thought on various issues, and deserves reading. An excellent read!
Jul 15, 2008 Josh rated it really liked it
Very important in my teenage years. Introduced me to a lot of important ideas, none so important as the John Cage bit: "If John Cage, for instance, says 'I'm putting a contact microphone on my throat, and I'm going to drink carrot juice, and that's my composition,' then his gurgling qualifies as his composition because he put a frame around it and said so. 'Take it or leave it, I now will this to be music.' After that, it's a matter of taste."
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
May 21, 2015 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as filmed
HERE's a REAL fake=Review ;; one that won't make you hurl.

Please listen as our Central Scrutinizer saves us from the dangers of Music ::

Welcome to

Joe's Garage -- the whole damn thing!!!

The White Zone is for loading and unloading only....
Barnaby Hazen
Jun 12, 2016 Barnaby Hazen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, down to earth. He's as much a movement as a composer. I didn't love all his musical work, didn't even love half of it but his revolutionary irreverence holds an importance to me I can't overstate.
Felix Zilich
Nov 24, 2012 Felix Zilich rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
В 1988 году издатели из ныне покойного Poseidon Press уломали Фрэнку Заппу написать книгу собственных мемуаров. Получив в качестве литературного негра журналиста Питера Оккиогроссо, Заппа пустился по волнам собственной памяти и породил море качественных и эффектных лулзов. История детства и юности Заппы – безупречная сага coming-of-age. Помесь Хогбенов и фильмов поколения “Бунтовщика без причины”.

Папа устроился метеорологом в Эджвудский арсенал. Во время Второй мировой войны там делали отравляю
May 13, 2015 Bradley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Published four years before his death in 1993, this autobiography explores various facets of Zappa’s life including his childhood, career as one of the weirdest musicians in rock music, and censorship battles against Washington legislators. Gifted with the ability to create a clever turn of phrase, Zappa utilizes his own brand of humor to tell his side of the story.

I am a huge fan of Zappa’s music. When I found out he had published a memoir, I immediately wanted to read it. However, I made the m
Mar 07, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Regarding my thoughts on Zappa and his excellent ouerve, see my review of Kelly Fisher Lowe's book.

This autobiography/polemic makes for a zestier read, although the last 50-90 pages of it descend rapidly through stages of acerbic wit from critical observation to rant to diatribe to screed. (You know there's trouble any time a writer begins moving from italics to boldface to BOTH IN ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! ) I'm guessing that Zappa lost interest in self-censoring (or the pro
May 07, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Zappa fans
Shelves: music
Music is the best, and Zappa's music is among the best. What a shame then that most people know him for his reputation for being outspoken, for defending the right to swear on a record and for recording smutty lyrics. That was just the day job. Zappa wasn't interested in fashion, and so he was not that interested in getting airplay on the record-industry controlled airwaves. What comes across clearly in this conversation with Peter Occhiogrosso (doesn't that sound like a name Zappa would invent ...more
Jan 16, 2008 Karl rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People with an interest in Zappa, who are overly squeamish
Not so much a book as a "conflicted document," perhaps. Zappa wasn't going to write an actual autobiography; nor did he necessarily have the patience to serve as a subject for a biographer (nor would his aims probably have consistently aligned with a proper biographer's). So this book has the curious characteristics of (a) often sounding like Zappa himself chit-chatting, (b) some actual biographical information (probably), (b1) some of that of actual interest, and (c) a paradigm shift from a ...more
Lisbeth Solberg
Jan 05, 2009 Lisbeth Solberg rated it liked it
Shelves: autobio-memoir
Made my way about a third through this years ago; finally picked it up and started over. Finished! Now it's out of my "stack."

Here's a quote:
I suggest we learn how to take anything bad that happens to us and polarize it. Instead of being overwhelmed by a negative event, dodge to the side like those t'ai chi guys and let it whizz by your pants. Maybe it makes a little breeze--big deal. (Please, don't mistake this for optimism.)

This is not a representative sample. As he admits, he is not an optimi
Stu Kesting
Sep 14, 2014 Stu Kesting rated it it was amazing
No one can express Frank Zappa's view of the world better than himself, and he did so in such an interesting and hilarious way in this autobiography. Whether you're a fanatic or this is your introduction, it's hard to not enjoy the life story of Frank Zappa, from his birth in 1940 and the adventures through his life up until 1989. The fast paced, but detailed stories take you on a journey through the mind and body Frank as he goes through life with twists and turns and turmoils that will make ...more
May 15, 2007 Matthew rated it really liked it
Though the last 1/4 of the book is nothing but a long tirade against the PMRC (among other things), the preceding text more than makes up for it. Though there's a picture of his family, he gives very little information about his parents and nothing (not even names) for his siblings. However, you will get (in great detail): how he got into music, his love of Varese, how he met his wife, how he almost got in a fight with John Wayne, what he does for a living, slightly disturbing tour stories, his ...more
Aug 13, 2008 catherine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poodles
Shelves: memoirs
i like zappa, but im not one of those freak-fans that you find out there. i enjoyed this book, however, because it wasnt a zappa bio, but a collection of his thoughts on various topics.

its a quick read, so anyone interested in music or the absurd can quickly check it out. the chapter on music was wonderful, and the one on the 1985 tipper gore pmrc bs is also quite interesting - reprinted are zappas officaily statements both to the us and MA govts during the attempts to limit freedom of speech.
Dec 15, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-story
An interesting book by and about Frank Zappa, telling some of the more interesting stories of his interesting life. I think his ideas on government (such as doing away with the income tax and generating government revenue from sales) were a little crazy. However, his music, his background, and his struggle against censorship are all in here and quite interesting.

This book is a good and accessible read for anyone looking for a little more about this awesome man.
Stephen Hines
Oct 07, 2013 Stephen Hines rated it it was amazing
Not only was Zappa an undisputed musical genius, he was a brilliant father, husband, inventor, and political analyst. By today's standards he'd probably be considered a Libertarian, but I would have voted for him any day of the week. He was a valiant warrior against censorship and for separation of church and state who suffered no bullshit from anyone.
Aug 12, 2008 Roland rated it really liked it
I wish this book went more into why studios took a risk on him, how he persuaded his band to switch from being a typical bar band into the strangest group of the 60s, and more of the history of his groups, but I can't complain too much. This is a fascinating, funny, and incredibly smart book from one of the most talented musicians of all time.
Jan 22, 2008 Waceted rated it it was amazing
From the man himself, an absolute must-have for any fans of pop culture and, especially, rock music. Told completely from FZ's point-of-view, he touches upon everything important in his life (from the absence of shit-eating tales to his disgust with religion and everything in between) and kept me captivated throughout. A quick, economical read that will make you laugh and make you think.
Feb 04, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it
I really think everyone should read this book. Mandatory reading for humans attempting to live in a society. Why? Because it's filled with useful tools for developing a sense of HUMOR, and how to create something novel. And regardless of what you think of Zappa's music, the man was a true genius.
Nov 28, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
Being a Zappa fan, I was excited to finally get my hands on this. And it's fantastic, pure Zappa, lots of great anecdotes and brilliant commentary... until towards the end. It felt as though Frank kinda ran out of story and starting ranting a bit. While I agreed with what he said for the most part, it was a tangent to all the great stuff before it. Still awesome, though.
Nov 13, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book thus far. Zappa was a musical master. The chapter 'All about music' is a -must- read for any musician out there, Zappa fan or not...

updated 11.13.2008
Finished this one on the way out to CA. What can I say? Zappa is dead, meanwhile Kid Rock lives on... There is no justice...

He will be sorely missed... A genius in many different ways, not just musically. This book proves that.
Jan 15, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This is what happen and this is how I feel about things and people. Strange set up but makes sense for Zappa. Could not get into many parts of it because of the lack of flow. Thoughts all over the place. If you a Zappa of the late Frank Zappa then you will love this book all others beware.
Feb 05, 2008 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, music
I've read this book several times over the years, and despite other reviewers comments about losing interest towards the end because of his obsession with the PMRC I loved hearing his side of the argument. Over all this book is an excellent dive into his life and what drove this eccentric musician.
Oct 15, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who love music
What a great book! Not a 'history' per se, more of a collection of remembrances by Frank a couple years before his untimely death. This is full of cool observations, as well as historic stories from someone who was there. You do not have to be a fan of Zappa's to enjoy the book.....
Humberto Hernandez
Aug 27, 2015 Humberto Hernandez rated it it was amazing
A unique insight into one of the greatest musical minds, events in his life are described through his unique clever and humorous language, we get to understand his views on music, life, freedom and politics.
May 17, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies, music
This was one of the funniest books I ever read. I'm not a big fan of his music but you don't have to be. He's one seriously funny guy.
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Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, musician, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa established himself as a prolific and highly distinctive composer, electric guitar player and band leader. He worked in almost every musical genre and wrote music for rock bands, jazz ensembles, synthesizers and symphony orchestra, as well as musique concrète works constructed ...more
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“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” 656 likes
“Definition of rock journalism: People who can't write, doing interviews with people who can't think, in order to prepare articles for people who can't read.” 603 likes
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