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Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa

Ron Case/Stringer, Getty Images
Ron Case/Stringer, Getty Images
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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa & the Mothers Of Invention Release ‘Uncle Meat’

Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention released 'Uncle Meat' on April 21, 1969.

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35 Years Ago: Frank Zappa’s ‘Sheik Yerbouti’ Released

On many levels — creative, personal, and business-related — 1979 would go down as a banner year in the long and storied career of Frank Zappa. But perhaps nothing else accomplished during those significant 365 days left as large and lasting an impact as the double album cheekily named ‘Sheik Yerbouti,’ which arrived in stores on March 3.

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Frank Zappa Sleep Dirt
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35 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Releases ‘Sleep Dirt’

Like much of the material that came out under Frank Zappa's name in the late '70s, 1979's 'Sleep Dirt' has a complicated history. Also like much of the work that ended the artist's most prolific decade, 'Sleep Dirt' had its roots in a shelved, four-LP set that Zappa's record company refused to release.

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Frank Zappa
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20 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Dies

Frank Zappa was one of the most innovative and versatile rock musicians of his generation, creating a vast body of work that encompassed almost every genre of music -- but he wouldn't have wanted to hear it. The mercurial genius actively resisted those kinds of labels and effusive public praise, focusing instead on the work itself in a career that spanned more than three decades. He died on Dec. 4, 1993 at the age of 52 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

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Smoke on the Water
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42 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Concert Fire Inspires ‘Smoke on the Water’

On Dec. 4, 1971, the small town of Montreux, Switzerland, became a place forever linked to rock history. A fire at the Montreux Casino during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention inspired Deep Purple's classic 'Smoke on the Water.'

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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention Release ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets’

On Dec. 2, 1968, a mysterious group of pompadoured cartoon faces turned back the clock of music history to highlight the golden era of doo-wop with their self-referencing album ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets.’

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Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
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35 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Releases ‘Studio Tan’

If Frank Zappa was still alive, you can bet he'd be the last person who'd want to celebrate the anniversary of 'Studio Tan,' an album he didn't sanction, sequence, or even approve cover art for. He was caught in a legal battle with Warner Bros. Records and former manager Herb Cohen at the time. On top of that, none of the songs included on 'Studio Tan' were even recorded in 1978; most of the tracks allegedly date from sessions between 1974 and 1976, with a couple of cuts even going as far back as 1969.

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George Duke
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George Duke of the Mothers of Invention Dies

Keyboard pioneer George Duke, whose long list of credits included a lengthy stint with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, has reportedly passed away at the age of 67.

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25 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Releases ‘You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1′

One of the most confounding musicians ever to grace the rock genre, Frank Zappa had a penchant for taking what essentially amounted to full-blown avant garde compositions and arranging them for rock ensemble playing. His bizarre, conceptual live performances were an astonishing mix of exceptional musicianship, onstage theatrics and pop culture satire. On May 16, 1988 Zappa showcased some of the standout live tracks from various eras of his development by releasing a career-spanning double live album titled 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol 1.'

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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Releases ‘Lumpy Gravy’

Frank Zappa is often regarded as one of the most brilliant, idiosyncratic musicians in rock music. But, looking back at his eclectic, monstrous body of work as a composer, guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader, Zappa really wasn't a "rock" musician. That fact is cemented on 'Lumpy Gravy,' Zappa's first official solo album, which was released 45 years ago today (May 13, 1968).

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Mothers of Invention
Evening Standard, Hulton Archive, Getty Images
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45 Years Ago: The Mothers of Invention’s ‘We’re Only in It for the Money’ Album Released

From the mocking cover art to the orchestral notes that grace the music to the loose thematic ties that link the songs, the Mothers of Invention’s ‘We’re Only in It for the Money’ turns ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ on its head. But it’s not so much the Beatles’ masterpiece -- which was released nine months before the Mothers album -- that Frank Zappa and his band of musical pranksters ruthlessly skewer; it’s the culture that fed and supported it.

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Frank Zappa
Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
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Frank Zappa’s ’200 Motels’ to Make Full-Length Live Orchestral Debut

More than 40 years after its initial release, Frank Zappa's '200 Motels' is scheduled to make its orchestral world premiere thanks to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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