Thursday, May 17, 2007
Anecdote # 555 part two
The Audition For A Hand Shake.
my first phone conversation with frank went something like this:
frank: "do you read music?"
adrian: "no, I don't, but I can learn from records pretty well."
frank: "alright, here's a list of 12 songs. try to figure out how to sing
and play as much of them as you can. I'll see you here next week".
I borrowed the records I needed to learn from
(I couldn't afford to buy them) and went into high gear.
every day for the next week I was consumed from morning till night
with learning frank zappa music.
man, it was hard.
the day came to fly to his house. it was the first time in my life I had been past the Missisippi. one of frank's crew members met me at the airport in a white cargo van. it was hot in california. the windows were down. he was shouting questions as he drove like a madman up the canyon's winding hills. I was deposited at frank's house. me, my strat, and my little pignose amp.
there was the beginnings of a studio in frank's basement. he sat behind a console chain smoking. I stood in the middle of the room with my little amp and sang into a microphone.
frank would say, "okay, try wind up workin' in a gas station". I would play and sing for a minute or two, he would stop me. "that's enough".
"now try andy".
I would play and sing for a bit and he would stop me.
and that's how it went.
the problem was the commotion. there were roadies rolling equipment around the room and people busy doing things to prepare for rehearsals. it seemed like there was an army in that small basement.
I knew I hadn't done well. I had nowhere to go until my flight back home so I stayed around all day watching other torturous auditions. I watched tommy mars' piano audition. it was frightening. but tommy was fabulous. I was told later frank had auditioned 50 guitar players!
as the day was ending and things quieted down I had a moment to say something to frank. I told him I knew I hadn't done well but it was not what I'd expected. I thought it would be the two of us somewhere quiet. he said, "well fine. let's go upstairs".
we sat on the purple couch in his living room.
I put my pignose amp face down on a pillow so it wouldn't be too loud.
and frank gave me a second audition.
at the end of it he reached over and shook my hand.
he told me I had the job for one year
and went on to explain his pay arrangements
(i.e. so much for rehearsal, so much for shows, etc.)
with that hand shake my life was changed forever.
ps: the Stratocaster I'm playing in the photo above was owned by Jimi Hendrix.
he burnt it up at the miami pop festival in 1967.
somehow frank inherited the guitar which was in 3 pieces,
had it put back together, and set up for slide playing.
I played it in the song jones crusher.
recently dweezil zappa auctioned off the guitar at Sotheby's in London.
it sold for 350 thousand pounds or a whopping $500,000!
I should have carved my name and number on the back.