Stu News and Photos

My name is Stu and I am here to share what I can.

Here is a story about Frank Zappa that I'd like to tell, as a way of giving you, the few folks who are actually going to click on the vid and listen to the entire album, a sense of what it was like for Frank while he recorded these songs. It's the summer of 1969 and Frank is in Los Angeles, recording the material that would become Hot Rats. Now, I'm not sure exactly which studio it was, whether it was Sunset Sound or TTG or Whitney studios (all three played host to the Hot Rats sessions), but one of these studios was where Frank recorded the tune "Willie The Pimp." Now the first interesting thing about the guitar solo was how it was recorded. Normally, a studio is separated into two parts, the big area where the musicians perform and get recorded (the studio, or the live room), and a smaller area, attached to the bigger area, where the tape machines and computers and engineers sit, making sure the recording is happening properly (the control room). However, for the song, "Willie The Pimp," Frank decided he wanted the guitar solo for that tune to stand out, to be different. So he set up his amp and his microphones in the recording area, like normal, but then instead of playing in that space, he brought his guitar into the control room and plugged his guitar into the mixing board. Then he ran that sound out of the board and into the studio, to his amp. He would play his guitar and the amp would broadcast that sound, which would get picked up by the microphones, which would transport that sound back into the control room, back into the mixing board, and finally, onto the magnetic recording tape. Pretty different, right? But that's not the half of it. It turns out that while Frank was laying down the solo for "Willie The Pimp," he was not undisturbed. Back in 1969, unions were a big thing (as they had been for years), and a union guy showed up in the studio, to make sure Frank was paying the musicians properly, and to make sure all the paperwork was filled out properly. So there's Frank, trying to lay down this solo, and there's this union guy, holding a clipboard, just a few feet from Frank, waiting for Frank to finish playing so that he can show this union guy all the proper forms. And Frank knows the guy's there and that he's impatient and tapping his pencil on his clipboard, urging Frank to wrap it up, and Frank's trying his best to ignore him and concentrate on his solo, but he's getting angrier and angrier at this impatient union guy with his clipboard and his senseless bureaucracy and his self-importance and… Well, now go listen to "Willie The Pimp" and listen to that solo and imagine what must have been going through Frank's head as he played those notes.