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Smoke on the Water
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42 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Concert Fire Inspires ‘Smoke on the Water’

On Dec. 4, 1971, the small town of Montreux, Switzerland, became a place forever linked to rock history. A fire at the Montreux Casino during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention inspired Deep Purple's classic 'Smoke on the Water.'

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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention Release ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets’

On Dec. 2, 1968, a mysterious group of pompadoured cartoon faces turned back the clock of music history to highlight the golden era of doo-wop with their self-referencing album ‘Cruising With Ruben & the Jets.’

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20 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Dies

Frank Zappa was one of the most innovative and versatile rock musicians of his generation, creating a vast body of work that encompassed almost every genre of music -- but he wouldn't have wanted to hear it. The mercurial genius actively resisted those kinds of labels and effusive public praise, focusing instead on the work itself in a career that spanned more than three decades. He died on Dec. 4, 1993 at the age of 52 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

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Frank Zappa
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45 Years Ago: Frank Zappa Releases ‘Lumpy Gravy’

Frank Zappa is often regarded as one of the most brilliant, idiosyncratic musicians in rock music. But, looking back at his eclectic, monstrous body of work as a composer, guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader, Zappa really wasn't a "rock" musician. That fact is cemented on 'Lumpy Gravy,' Zappa's first official solo album, which was released 45 years ago today (May 13, 1968).

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Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, Getty Images
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Two Frank Zappa Albums To Be Reissued On Vinyl

The Zappa Family Trust, headed by Frank Zappa's widow Gail, has announced that select titles from the massive Zappa catalog will be finding their way to vinyl this summer. In June, Zappa's Barking Pumpkin label will put out editions of 1973's 'Over-Nite Sensation' and the 1966 classic 'Freak Out!,' joining the recently released 'Finer Moments,' a collection of live material from the early-'70s.

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Mothers of Invention
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45 Years Ago: The Mothers of Invention’s ‘We’re Only in It for the Money’ Album Released

From the mocking cover art to the orchestral notes that grace the music to the loose thematic ties that link the songs, the Mothers of Invention’s ‘We’re Only in It for the Money’ turns ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ on its head. But it’s not so much the Beatles’ masterpiece -- which was released nine months before the Mothers album -- that Frank Zappa and his band of musical pranksters ruthlessly skewer; it’s the culture that fed and supported it.

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Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
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Frank Zappa’s ’200 Motels’ to Make Full-Length Live Orchestral Debut

More than 40 years after its initial release, Frank Zappa's '200 Motels' is scheduled to make its orchestral world premiere thanks to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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Mothers of Invention Ray Collins
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Mothers of Invention Co-Founder Ray Collins Dies at 76

Ray Collins, the singer and co-founder of the Mothers of Invention, died on Monday (Dec. 24) in Pomona, Calif. He had been hospitalized since Dec. 18 after suffering a massive heart attack, and was removed from life support on Saturday. He was 76 years old.

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Frank Zappa
Evening Standard, Getty Images
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Frank Zappa’s ‘Roxy by Proxy’ to be Distributed by Fans

The career of Frank Zappa has been nothing if not innovative. Nearly 20 years after his death, his estate is continuing his tradition by coming up with a new way of licensing his music, by allowing his fans to serve as independent distributors.

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‘From Straight to Bizarre’ DVD Documents History of Frank Zappa’s Early Record Labels

When Frank Zappa parted ways with Verve Records in 1968, he knew what was best for his career moving forward, and that was starting his own label.

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Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
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Frank Zappa 1971 Carnegie Hall CD Set Unveiled

Frank Zappa fans can now pre-order a special four-disc set, ‘Carnegie Hall,’ featuring two full-length shows performed on one 1971 night at New York’s famous venue by Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Billed as a “musical marathon,” the recordings are the first ever released of that night’s shows.

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