FRANK Zappa, the Baltimore-born musician who died last...

Salmagundi

January 04, 1994

FRANK Zappa, the Baltimore-born musician who died last month of prostate cancer, was not just another guitar-wielding sociopath coughed up by the American rock scene. This point was reiterated most convincingly in the Dec. 20 New Yorker magazine by Czech president Vaclav Havel.

In his brief piece, Mr. Havel recalls his impressions of Mr. Zappa -- "one of the gods of the Czech underground" during the 1970s and '80s -- upon meeting him a few years ago:

"[Zappa] was the first rock celebrity I had ever met, and, to my great delight, he was a normal human being, with whom I could carry on a normal conversation. He was eager to learn everything he could about the radical changes taking place in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. He was curious about what this sudden collapse of a bipolar world might bring. He wanted to know what we thought about the future position of the Soviet Union in world politics, and he probed us about the negative as well as the positive aspects of the 'velvet' course we had set for ourselves.

"What fascinated and excited him was the idea that the artist had a role to play in active politics. He gave serious thought to offering unofficial assistance to our country, in both cultural and economic spheres, and I learned later that he had discussed the matter in detail with several ministers. Perhaps his illness prevented him from taking on this kind of work, but his sincere concern for our country made a deep impression on me . . .

"I thought of Frank Zappa as a friend. Meeting him was like entering a different world from the one I live in as president. Whenever I feel like escaping from that world -- in my mind, at least -- I think of him."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.