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Frank Zappa’s First Appearance on TV [VIDEO]

Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

Frank Zappa had a reputation for being unconventional. In fact, Frank’s spirit kind of floats through the hallways here at The LOON and infects just about everything we do, from Baxter’s Morning Sideshow to the tongue in cheek wise-cracks of Bill St. James and his Sunday morning show Time Warp.

I’ve been a major fan of Frank ever-since my good friends Phil and Tim exposed me to him when we were seniors in high school. I was talking with Mark Alan, our on-air night manager about Frank this morning, and I mentioned one of my favorite Frank tunes was Frogs With Dirty Little Lips from the ’84 album Them Or Us (which by the way has a killer version of The Allman’s Whipping Post). He said he hadn’t heard it, so I went to YouTube for a quick play. I found a couple of live performances, but one of the ‘related videos’ up in the right hand corner of the page caught my eye.

A very, very young and uncharacteristically dapper-looking B&W Frank stared back at me, with the caption; Frank Zappa Plays The Bicycle. I had to see it, and was rewarded with an extended clip from a 1963 episode of The Steve Allen Show showcasing Frank Zappa, playing, as the title promised, a bicycle.

But the musical two-wheeler isn’t really the compelling part of this video. It’s the glimpse into Frank’s quirky personality and his unique charisma masquerading as a very handsome young man. If you’re a Zappa fan, I don’t have to tell you to watch the clip, but if you’re only vaguely familiar with Frank’s work you need to watch this.

Steve Allen ain’t no slouch in this clip, either. He’s witty, quick and obviously genuinely interested in Frank’s cock-eyed foray into the little known instrument made by Schwinn.


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