The late Frank Zappa was a bastion of alternative culture — a figure who did things on his terms and his terms only, cultivating creativity like no other musician. However, in Grace Slick, he found a kindred spirit. The two knew each other from the late 1960s; they then became close friends as the years went on and, on some occasions, even worked on music together. In 1984, Slick conducted a comical interview with Zappa at Rock Palace, which sees him fully immersed in character while Slick acts as though she’s not in on the joke.
The intrinsic link between Grace Slick and Frank Zappa goes years back. In fact, Slick event wanted Zappa to produce the Jefferson Airplane’s fourth album, Crown of Creation, but the stars could never align due to scheduling commitments. They did manage to have one session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, however, which suggests that there was a willingness on both sides to get the projects up and going. In that session, they created the beautifully bizarre ‘Would You Like A Snack‘, a project that sees Slick sing about getting her period and oral sex.
Slick and Zappa had a lot of things in common, but one thing that they differed on was drug use; the former Jefferson Airplane singer was an ardent advocate of drugs in her youth, while Zappa was tee-total. His attitude towards narcotics was one that Slick had great admiration for, “Frank Zappa was pretty good at business. And Frank Zappa didn’t do drugs either. Drugs really get in the way of paying attention to what your accountant’s saying because it’s so boring,” she said in homage in 2001.
“Frank Zappa’s house in the canyon, which I visited several times, looked exactly like a troll’s kingdom,” she wrote in her autobiography. “Fuzzy haired women lounged in long antique dresses, and naked children ran to and fro while Frank sat behind piles of electronic equipment discussing his latest ideas for orchestrating satirical hippie rock music. Never a druggie, Frank openly made fun of the very counter-culture he was helping to sustain,” Slick continued.
For this interview in 1984, Zappa is completely evasive and standoff-ish, which fans of the avant-garde musician know all too well whilst Slick acts astonished at his demeanour. An example of his straight-faced persona came when the former Jefferson Airplane singer tries to get underneath his trademark white sunglasses and discover the real Frank Zappa by asking if he gets his sarcastic nature from his parents—but alas, it was to no avail.
“I can honestly say that neither of my parents has exhibited any sense of humour whatsoever,” Zappa matter of factly responded. “My mother a little bit; she likes jokes about things that happen in the bathroom.” Slick then struggles that keep up her act of pretending to be annoyed with Frank then starts laughing whilst firing him quick-fire questions, and he instructs her to stop laughing with a wry smile whilst on the verge of breaking character himself by bursting into laughter which provides the greatest glimpse of his off-stage personality.
“He’s an enlightening kind of guy, if you wanted to know any of the answers to these questions then you can count tonight out,” Slick said down the camera to the audience and to the crowd in attendance.
The ruder Zappa was to her throughout the interview, the more the crowd cheered their hero. Everyone in attendance was aware they were friends, so he invited her down to interview him in the first place because she knew full well that this arrogant behaviour was all for show and an extension of his showmanship.
Check it out, below.