Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa

22 Dec

Frank Zappa

Today would’ve been Frank Zappa’s 71st birthday. Because he was so bizarre and unconventional for his time, many people don’t realize he was quite a savvy entrepreneur.

Frank Zappa is perhaps the epitome of the rock star as businessman. The touchstone of his philosophy has always been to read the small print and, preferably, help to draft it himself. Zappa, right from the start of his career, has been careful to ensure that he knows what’s going on around his musical activities. — “Frank Zappa: Portrait of an Artist as Businessman,” Cream Magazine, January 1972

Zappa sold encyclopedias to make ends meet while starting his music career. Then, he landed a $1,500 gig (significant money in those days) to score the music for a film. From those earnings, he started a recording studio, which led to his band Mothers of Invention, which led to his successful and lucrative career.

Worth noting as well that, while bands forming their own labels is not so unusual these days, Frank Zappa was one of the earliest rock stars to do so.

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