When Frank Zappa shut up ’n’ stopped playing guitar

Frank Zappa
(Image credit: Tom Hill/Getty Images)

The opening frame of Alex Winter’s 2020 intimate-portrait “biopic” documentary, Zappa, shows Frank Zappa onstage at the Sports Hall in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1991 holding the Stratocaster you see on the cover of The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa, a 34-minute collection of rare Zappa solos on an audio cassette that Guitar World released in 1987. 

“This is the first time I’ve had a reason to play my guitar in three years – and now I will try and tune my guitar,” he says. It was to be his penultimate recorded guitar performance. (The Prague date was June 24, 1991, followed by his performance in Budapest at the “Farewell Festival,” celebrating the withdrawal of Russian troops from Hungary, June 30, 1991.)

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Noë Gold was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine.