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Frank Zappa Meets Steve Allen, Plays Bike

In 1963 a 22-year-old Frank Zappa went on Steve Allen's TV show and demonstrated some far-out musical sounds on an unusual instrument: the bicycle.

How's Your Bird

Photo: album art

Frank Zappa's album "How's Your Bird"

This one’s apparently made the rounds on the internet for some time now, but I can’t resist posting it here: Frank Zappa‘s suit-and-tie-clad 1963 appearance on The Steve Allen Show.

At the time, Zappa was a 22-year-old unknown, not quite yet the assertive persona he’d become, but certainly unflappable in the face of Allen’s wisecracking. Over the course of 15 minutes he gets Allen and the studio band to join him in making some far-out sounds on a couple of bicycles.

I’m not sure what prompted Zappa’s appearance, but at the end he mentions a new record, “How’s Your Bird.”

Part 1:

Part 2:

This part put me in mind of the Art Ensemble of Chicago at times – no kidding! (It’s also perhaps not too far removed from Henry Threadgill‘s hubkaphone, an instrument made out of hubcaps.)

Part 3:

(Thanks to Randy Pollok for hipping me to this.)

External References

David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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