The Real Frank Zappa Book (Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso) - Simon & Schuster - 1989 - 352 pages

This is the real Frank Zappa (1941-1993) autobiography as dictated to writer Occhiogrosso with final edit by Zappa.  In the final chapter ("Last Words"), FZ admits that it is not the book he wanted it to be but "... this final material must be prepared in order to keep the 'recent history' part up-to-date and make the deadline."  Zappa was certainly the most important musician/composer of his era and, he inspired a generation of Boomers with his compositions, his ground-breaking music, and his blunt honesty about the music business, politics and the culture of the late 20th century.  He hated the policies of the Ronald Reagan Republicans but also despised the unions that preyed on touring performers.  The heart of the book is the 60-page chapter ("All About Music") that dwells on his love of the subject and hatred for "Monochromonotony" - that music-by-the-numbers style that dominates popular "radio" fare.  This is a long chapter with a lot of technical stuff, but it is worth plowing through to get to Zappa's 1984 keynote address ("Is 'New Music' Relevant in an Industrial Society?") to the American Society of University Composers.  He pulls no punches as he tells the group that composers of "modern music" add no value to the field and that they should "...take out a real estate license." 

Although Frank Zappa was the most-talented musical scientist of the rock era, he was less adept at his other passion - political commentary.  In Chapter 17 ("Political Conservatism"), Zappa takes shots at the world problems as they existed in 1988.  He calls for a national sales tax to replace the income tax.  He suggests that national defense is unnecessary as long as the economy is robust but then wants the U.S. to use force to end apartheid in South Africa.  He continues his mostly-serious solutions to world problems by concluding that the creation of a Palestinian state would resolve the problems in the Middle East.  While this chapter was doomed to suffer from the hindsight of 2015, his simplistic approach to complicated problems just proved that his time was better spent on the composing of work for one of the 98 albums released before and after his early death at the age of 51.  During the reading of this autobiography, it is evident that Zappa had little regard for doctors or the combined knowledge of human health that existed at the time.  His early departure from Earth was a great loss for lovers of the art of music.  [JAM 1/8/2015]