Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa Paperback – 14 Sep 2011
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The book describes a formative time in the life of an innovative musical artist, which Zappa most certainly was. But it also captures a particularly intense experience of a very brief, yet enormously influential, period in the evolution of western womanhood. --The Guardian
Freak Out! provides an affectionate, revelatory but clear-eyed portrayal of the peculiar dynamic at the heart of the Mother superiors inner sanctum. Zappas contradictory nature is deftly delineated ( he stood in judgement on almost everyone in the outside world yet I knew no other man more unassuming, humble or compassionate ) and a compelling cast of minor characters drift through the narrative: an elliptical, quixotic Captain Beefheart, the luckless, rudderless Wild Man Fischer, gentlemanly multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood, visionary sleeve artist Cal Schenkel and Paulines eventual charges, the unruly and elemental GTOs. A vital purchase for those that love their Mothers. 4*s Reviewed by Oregano Rathbone --Record Collector
Only the most ardent Zappaphile or various Mothers of Invention and hangers-on who made up the freak show surrounding Frank Zappa's Laurel Canyon log cabin would recognize the name of Pauline Butcher. Even so, Freak Out! gives the onetime English secretary and part-time modeling instructor the opportunity to tell her insider's view of the head Mother, one that's revelatory and keenly perceptive. In 1967, Zappa ordered a typist up to his London hotel room, and when Butcher arrived, they hit it off to such an extent that eventually he offered her a job as his personal secretary. She accepted, moved to Los Angeles, and was promptly thrown into madness that from the distance of time seems irresistible. With a backdrop of the chaotic late 1960s extending into 1972, Butcher battles Zappa's wife Gail, develops interesting friendships with musician Ian Underwood and album artist Cal Schenkel, wrangles the GTO's (an all-girl act produced by Zappa), and meets a variety of eccentrics and rock stars: Tiny Tim, Captain Beefheart, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and members of Pink Floyd. Offering deeply personal glimpses of Zappa, Butcher's coming-of-age story is so captivating and vividly told that many will be surprised to discover it's her first book. --The Austin Chronicle
About the Author
London-born Pauline Butcher worked in Los Angeles as Frank Zappa s PA from 1967-1971. During this time, she ran the fan club of the Mothers of Invention, and managed the all-girl rock act the GTOs. After returning to England in the early 1970s, she studied at Cambridge University, and went on to teach A-level psychology. She now lives in Singapore with her husband.This is her first book
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Top Customer Reviews
Besides, I thought that the time an location of this book would had made it - at least - for an interesting chronicle of California during an exciting time. The book deliver exactly what I expected. It is told from the point of view of an "outsider", Zappa's English secretary who got drawn into his world merely by the strength of his presence. From what she writes, I gather Mr. Zappa must have had a very magnetic personality. Sadly, even if I looked many times at this photos and at some Youtube footage, his magnetism did not work on me. Maybe it is the distance in time or just the fact that there are no rules about physical/intellectual attraction.
Anyway, Pauline Butcher met Frank Zappa for a quick typing job in London, was struck by the guy and decided to try everything to move to the US and work full time for him. She succeded, but the results were not what she expected.
Having dreamt of living with Zappa in a Hollywood mansion and perhaps of upgrading their relationship to something more personal, Pauline found herself in a log cabin inhabited by a crowd of hippies and by Zappa's wife and first child, Moon.
The relationship between Pauline and Gail (Frank's wife) is described in hilarious terms. It sounds so very human in its mix of jelousy, admiration and developping friendship.Read more ›
A parade of other characters also passes through the log cabin where Zappa and his entourage lived, including a veritable constellation of rock stars- amongst the brightest, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart, Roger Waters and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell and David Crosby. Even these `premier' names receive only brief sketches in the book (I would have liked more detail). There are fuller descriptions of musicians in Zappa's immediate circle, including the members of the Mothers of Invention, notably the talented pianist and woodwind player, Ian Underwood. We also meet the wonderfully eccentric Captain Beefheart and the less wonderful (indeed barely sane) Wild Man Fischer.
Although the book is not primarily about the music itself, there are interesting insights into Frank's musical influences, both in the world of blues and rock and from classical composers such as Stravinsky and Varèse. Pauline also describes FZ's composition technique of writing down lines of melody from one-handed playing of his grand piano.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very well written book about Frank and his associates from within his own house. I enjoyed it muchly. Marvellous.Published 8 months ago by David
Great book about the Zappa's in the early days. Even better if you come from Twickenham. Was Pauline Butcher really that innocent? Oh, how times have changed.Published 8 months ago by Mrs K Bull
Not what I was expecting, not a bio of Frank, but Butcher's rather flat account of being his secretary in Laurel Canyon
However it is an interesting quick read and... Read more
It would have been a lot easier to rate this book if it had actually appeared on my kindle. I have already sent 2 emails about this. Very poor servicePublished 12 months ago by joy bird
I bought this book after reading a review in a national newspaper . I am a huge Zappa fan and I really enjoyed reading it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by magpie