YOU ARE WHAT YOU USE: The Drug-Free Life of Zappa
Today is already feeling good: We just passed $400,000.
That means we're now 80% of the way to our first Kickstarter goal, which would let us get to work!
But if we want to save a lot more of the Vault, or reach our "final goal" of $3 million, we've still got a long way to go, and just over three weeks left in the campaign. So, later this afternoon I'll be sending another update announcing a few killer new rewards, along with something a lot of Kickstarter-savvy backers have asked for: Add-On Rewards!
This morning, though, I've got something different for you.
Today, I want to share what I think is one of the most interesting – and, for people who don't know tons about Frank, most unexpected – things about FZ's life:
Frank Zappa was 100% drug-free.
Frank was a paradox in so many areas of his life and work:
- He was a satirical rock star... who was also a serious classical composer.
- He was a sexually liberated wild man... who was also a devoted husband and father
- He coined the term "Freaks"... but wasn't a fan of hippies and didn’t identify with their movement.
- He was a tripped-out visionary... but he never used, or allowed, drugs.
Yep: Frank Zappa did no drugs, ever, and was so against them that he actually had a zero tolerance drug policy with his bandmates.
Like I said on Monday, I'm guessing his hardline position against drugs was probably one of the points of tension between FZ and the cast of Saturday Night Live. Or, for that matter, between FZ and basically every other cultural icon of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
But Frank wasn't being moral... he was being practical. He didn’t want drugs to hamper his creativity, slow down his prodigious output, or impair his sharp intellect. And he demanded the same of his bandmates, because he wanted everyone around him to be just as sharp, present, and truly "in the now."
(He also wanted his band un-incarcerated, as he once explained to Bill Boggs.)
Frank’s keyboardist Tommy Mars has some great reflections on all of this, and if you haven't seen it, check out Frank's tough and complete rejection of the ‘60s movement. (This is one of my all-time favorite interviews FZ did.)
Given that Zappa was largely a product of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, this attitude was more radical than most radicals. Basically, Frank was so counter-culture that he was counter-counter-culture!
You are a person who is high class
You are a person not in my class
And the cocaine decision that you make today
Will mean nothing later on
When you get nose decay.
- Cocaine Decisions
Zappa’s desire to avoid drugs also extended to an aversion towards other fads and movements. Famously, when Bill Graham – a huge Zappa fan – invited Frank to move up to San Francisco and join the exploding music community in the Bay area, Zappa refused on the grounds that San Francisco was full of hippies. (I’m sure Graham must have wondered why that was a bad thing!)
Also – because I want to share some of the rarer stuff I've been able to find at the house, and not just the regular interviews and videos on YouTube, here's something that I think it truly dope:
When we were shooting the Kickstarter video in Frank's office and the UMRK, we uncovered a dusty roll of these awesome stickers that Frank designed back in 1984.
I was already planning to throw some of the originals into the MYSTERY BAG reward (at Track 100 and up!), but let me know if you guys dig them, because I'm trying to figure out what else we can do with them. Suggestions?
Look for another update this afternoon with some big announcements about new stuff we've got planned to help keep the Kickstarter moving.
In the meantime, don't be a dope:
Keep Rallying the Troops,
WANT TO HELP EVEN MORE?
Now you can, from the comfort of your own keyboard. Just share this post on your social media, or print it out and mail it to your friends and enemies:
Did you know #Zappa didn’t do drugs? Check out @zappamovie's fave things about FZ: zappamovie.com/update6 #WTFIFZ