From writer/director Alex Winter (starring in Bill & Ted Face the Music, director of HBO Max’s documentary Showbiz Kids) and produced by Frank Zappa’s son, Ahmet Zappa, Zappa offers an exclusive look at the life of the innovative artist and musician through unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and archival footage.
Frank Zappa’s footprint on Los Angeles has left a lasting mark. After moving to LA at 18 years old, Zappa began to build a name for himself and his band, the Mothers, in Los Angeles’ underground music scene while playing at classic landmarks such as the Cheetah Club and The Whiskey. From alternative rock to the classics, LA played a major role in Zappa’s career: the KROQ radio station helped to bring the song “Valley Girl” to popularity and, in later years, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra worked with Zappa to perform his classical music of “200 Motels.” Beyond his own career, Zappa was influential throughout LA’s culture with his house in Laurel Canyon functioning as the central meeting place for many LA musicians including Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Rod Stewart.
With an impressive score combining Frank Zappa’s well known songs with his later classical compositions, Zappa comprehensively chronicles the life and career of an eccentric musical genius.
The documentary also looks at the many other areas where Zappa left a lasting mark, including his political involvement as an advocate against music censorship that even led him to the halls of congress.
Winter sits down with many of Zappa’s musical collaborators such as Ian Underwood (woodwind and keyboards player in Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention), three-time Grammy Award winner and fifteen-time nominee Steve Vai, Pamela Des Barres (a member of the GTOs, an all-girl groupie “musical” group sponsored by Frank Zappa), Bunk Gardner (a member of Zappa’s original version of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention), Ray White (soul vocalist and rock and blues guitarist in Zappa’s touring ensemble) and others along with appearances by Zappa’s widow Gail and previously recorded interviews from Zappa himself.
Distribution | Magnolia Pictures