Although it’s been nearly twelve years since Frank Zappa’s death, his influence is heard in the music of artists ranging from System of a Down to Trey Anastasio. This fall, Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa will pay tribute to their late father by performing his music across Europe on the Zappa Plays Zappa tour. The Zappa family is also assembling the first full-length documentary about the legendary musical iconoclast, which they plan to release by early next year. They will debut a condensed version of the film on the tour.
The documentary spans the guitarist/bandleader/composer’s diverse career, from early performance footage of songs such as “Inca Roads” and “Call Any Vegetable” through sessions for his final project, 1993’s The Yellow Shark. Zappa died of prostate cancer that same year.
The film shows the private side of one of rock’s greatest satirists. “He had a very cynical, sarcastic sense of humor,” Dweezil says, “so there’s a lot of stuff talking about how difficult it is to get your music played and how expensive it is.”
But the focus of the documentary will be Zappa’s role as a composer. “It gives you a lot of insight into the way he worked,” says Dweezil. “He was always using classical themes in his music: Whenever he wrote a new part he’d stick it into a song, and then you’d hear it later as a whole other work of its own . . . And he was an amazing arranger, so his music was always evolving.”
The Zappa Plays Zappa tour kicks off October 25th in Barcelona.