In 1967, a chance encounter with a musical legend changed Pauline Butcher s life forever. Summoned to Frank Zappa s London hotel room to transcribe the lyrics of his album, Absolutely Free, the young English secretary experienced an unlikely meeting of minds with the charismatic American rock star, who subsequently invited Pauline to work for him in Los Angeles. Living at a log cabin in the Hollywood Hills with Frank, his family and members of his eccentric entourage, Pauline spent her days and nights in the company of a succession of famous names. Drinking sessions with Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, visits from Eric Clapton and Captain Beefheart, and the fevered rehearsals of Zappa s band the Mothers of Invention were nothing out of the ordinary in a house routinely populated by freaks, drop-outs, drug casualties and dreamers. While running Zappa s fan club and managing the GTOs, an all-girl rock act supported and produced by Frank, Pauline learned to navigate the highs and lows of life behind the scenes with a rock n roll icon, gaining an unparalleled insight into Zappa s life and work in the process. A vivid depiction of the late sixties music industry and the sometimes stark realities behind Hollywood s perceived glamour, this memoir is the captivating story of a young English girl thrust into the mad world of a musical legend.
Pauline Butcher was born in Twickenham, England and is the tenth child of eleven children. A trip to America with her parents cut her education short and with it her dream of a university education. On their return to England, she took up the only channel available to girls in the 1960s - secretarial work.
A chance meeting with Frank Zappa in London in 1967 changed Pauline's life when he invited her, a straight English girl, to California to live and work in the bizarre rock'n'roll world of Laurel Canyon and the famous log cabin.
Four years later, in 1971, Pauline was struck by a life-threatening illness and raced to England for an emergency operation. She had expected to go back to California but while recuperating chose instead to apply for a course in economics at Cambridge University. During her studies, she met her husband-to-be Peter Bird and together they moved to Scotland where Peter taught economics at Stirling University. Their son, Damian, was born in Scotland in 1982.
After seven years, they returned to England and Pauline took up teaching A-level psychology at Reading College. In 2001, when Damian went to Oxford University, Pauline realised she had no excuses left and must pursue her life-long ambition to be a writer. She began with radio plays for radio 4 with no success. Then a producer advised her to write something 'that no one else could write'. That 'something' was her experience of living and working with Frank Zappa.
By now, Pauline and Peter had moved to Singapore and it was in Singapore that the play became a book and three years later, in September 2011, Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa was published. To become a published writer had taken ten years.
Pauline and Peter plan to return to England in 2013.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org