The life and times of Frank Zappa – composer, satirist and towering giant of the electric guitar

Frank Zappa performs on stage at Ahoy on 15th May 1982 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
(Image credit: Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

The following is an excerpt from the February 1999 issue of Guitar World.

“There’s no single ideal listener out there who likes my orchestral music, my guitar albums and songs like Dyna-Moe-Hum,” Frank Zappa told me in 1988. “That’s why sometimes I’ll do an orchestral album, and the people who like guitar stuff can’t stand it. And then a guitar album comes out, and the people who liked the orchestral album can’t stand that. But you know, they’re all my friends in their own way. So why not accommodate them all?”

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, and He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.