I discovered FZ back in 1975 when I was a mere child at the age of 12. I shoplifted a cassette copy of “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” from the local Tower Records simply because I liked the cover. Twenty-five years later, I’m the proud owner of every FZ album, both vinyl and CD, along with an extensive collection of various other paraphernalia, such as posters, passes, books, mags, promos, you name it! “It’s a way of life!”
The first time I met Frank was back in 1984. He was playing July 17-22 at the Hollywood Palace. Being the Zappa freak that I am, I naturally bought tickets for every single night. The interesting thing about these concerts was the fact that I had just been offered, and accepted, a job in Saudi Arabia. The original plan was for me to start the job in Saudi on the First of July. With some quick thinking on my part while on the phone with my new employer, I said I was unable to arrive in Arabia until the 24th because I was to be the Best Man at my buddy’s wedding. Obviously, they fell for this transparent scam and I was thus able to attend the shows.
I took various friends and girlfriends to the first five shows but was very insistent on attending the finale by myself. Let’s face it, the very next day I was going to be on a plane to Saudi Arabia, possibly never to return again---who knew?
It was after the very last show, July 22nd, when I met Frank in all his splendor. As the crowds filed out of the theater, about 10-12 other guys and I made a beeline for the backstage exit which led to the parking lot. We had nothing on our minds other than to meet the man himself. Probably close to an hour later, Frank finally made his appearance. He was very gracious as he shook everyone’s hand and asked us all if we liked the shows. More than a few of us had been there every night so we made comparisons, at his request.
Eventually, I was able to tell him about my impending move to Saudi, and that’s when he really blew me away. He actually asked me more questions about my decision to move there than I was able to ask him about his twenty-some-odd years of recording! It was also the fact that he did so with such sincerity that I was completely taken aback. (That, and the fact that the bastard hit me up for two smokes as we talked!) He soon asked me when this whole move was to take place and, by that time, I was supposed to be on the plane in less than six hours. He then quickly shook my hand and told me not to miss out on the incredible opportunity I had before me.
Needless to say, I did in fact make the flight and I arrived in Saudi Arabia on the 24th of July. The clincher to this whole story is that on my second day of life in Arabia, I happened into a cassette store and was amazed to see a copy of “Sheik Yerbouti”! In the Arabic section, no less! (I guess the cover gave it away…) I snatched it up as fast as I could and thought, “How appropriate is this?”
I met Frank again several years later at a signing for the “Real” book, and he actually remembered me! He couldn’t recall my name, but he did remember the part about Saudi Arabia. I remember thinking, “This guy’s amazing!”
All I know is that I miss him terribly and I thoroughly believe the world needs him now more than ever. Good night Frank, wherever you are!
By Robert Kevorkian