Zappa Plays Zappa
Dweezil Zappa was born on September 5, 1969 -the son of Frank and Gail Zappa – and it was inevitable that from the moment of his birth his life would be filled wall-to wall with music (his father having listed his religion as “musician” on Dweezil’s birth certificate). At 6 years old he received his first guitar, a Fender Music Master from his dad.
Having primarily heard the music his father was working on or listening to at home was a child, Dweezil soon found himself exposed to some new sounds on the radio. He listened to their records for hours on end trying to figure out a way to translate what he was hearing in his head to his fingers at the other end of the guitar. Along the way, he had opportunities to ask his dad for some help. “I remember asking Frank to help me figure out the song ‘Revelation/Mother Earth’ from Blizzard Of Oz. Frank helped me learn the finger picking intro.” To gain more fundamental knowledge of technique and scales Dweezil was fortunate to have some assistance from one of the musicians in his father’s band at that time, Steve Vai. Dweezil became remarkably proficient in a very short amount of time due to his intense practicing sessions.
In 1982, at the age of 12 he made his first onstage appearance with his father’s band at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Later that year he recorded his first single, “My Mother Is A Space Cadet”, released on Frank Zappa’s label Barking Pumpkin. The amazing story behind that recording is that it was produced by Edward Van Halen. (On the sleeve it is credited as being produced by De Vards in order to avoid any contractual issues for Van Halen.)
1988 saw Dweezil sign a deal with Chrysalis Records, releasing his second album My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. The title track and video, a cover of the Frank Zappa single, found its way into the MTV rotation. With the release of his third album Confessions in 1991, Dweezil began to branch out musically, blending his heavy rock approach with touches of his father’s distinct compositional insignia.
There were a handful of live shows played to support the Confessions album. That tour saw the band develop a unique set of skills and usher in the birth of a remarkable non stop medley that grew to contain 200 songs performed in 20 minutes. Many different albums followed featuring various band configurations. 2000 saw Dweezil issue his first solo album since 1991’s Confessions with the release of Automatic. By this time, Dweezil’s musicianship had come full-circle as he showed off his guitar virtuosity with eclectic all guitar orchestrations of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Hawaii 5-0.”
The next several years saw Dweezil preparing to take on an extremely difficult challenge—bringing his father’s legendary music back to the concert stage. In 2006, some indication of what could be expected surfaced with Dweezil’s next solo album Go With What You Know. The album featured Dweezil’s most creative, advanced guitar work to date and he was aided by the propulsive brilliance of Joe Travers, as well as keyboardist Aaron Arntz and bassist Pete Griffin, who would soon become mainstays in the live band Dweezil was putting together.
Finally, in the spring of 2006, Dweezil’s new live band Zappa Plays Zappa hit the road for their first, tour. Playing a long, ambitious set of Frank Zappa favorites and obscure gems to big audiences of crazed Zappa fans, Dweezil proved that he could reach his goal to form a core band of previously unknown expert musicians capable of respectfully executing his father’s music. He was uniquely qualified to bring these compositions back to life with complete authenticity from the page to the stage. Helping to deliver the goods was his absolutely stellar band of first-rate musicians including Joe Travers, Pete Griffin, Aaron Arntz, brass/woodwinds/keyboards/obvious fan favorite Scheila Gonzales, percussionist Billy Hulting and guitarist Jamie Kime.
Constantly learning and evolving his guitar art, Dweezil Zappa is both the modern face of Zappa music and the person who can bring it fully-formed into the future. His own music has been sidelined for a while but is currently experiencing a resurgence. 2012 will see the debut of new releases of Dweezil’s own music and the continuation of his music boot camp Dweezilla. Dweezil’s proudest accomplishments are as father to his two daughters Zola Frank Zappa (born 2006) and Ceylon Indira Zappa (born 2008). In April of 2012, he married his fiance’ Megan Marsicano, now Megan Zappa. They live in Los Angeles.