Frank Zappa (1940–1993) was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. He wrote the lyrics to all his songs, which—often humorously—reflected his skeptical view of established political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship. Zappa was a highly productive and prolific artist and he gained widespread critical acclaim. Many of his albums are considered essential in rock history, and he is regarded as one of the most original guitarists and composers of his time; he remains a major influence on musicians and composers.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:


English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks made the first observation of a transit of Venus.


Scanian War: Forces led by Swedish Field Marshal Simon Grundel-Helmfelt defeated the invading army of Denmark–Norway under the command of King Christian V at the Battle of Lund in an area north of Lund, Sweden.


The Observer, the world's first Sunday newspaper, was first published.


Pan American World Airways, which was the principal international airline of the United States and which was credited with many innovations, ended operations.


Operation Restore Hope: U.S. President George H. W. Bush ordered American troops into Somalia to help provide humanitarian aid and restore order after the dissolution of the country's central government during the ongoing Somali Civil War.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

grimalkin   (n)      1. A cat, especially an elderly female.
                          2. An old, bad-tempered woman; a crone.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind, pinned down by the conditions of its existence to the earnest consideration of the most insignificant tides of reality.
--Joseph Conrad