Dweezil Zappa Bio
Dweezil Zappa was born on September 5,
It was inevitable that from the moment of his birth his life would be filled
Having watched his father perform concerts from the side of the stage since he was in diapers it was no surprise that he began to show an interest in music early on. At 6 years old he received his first guitar, a Fender Music Master from his dad.
This is what Dweezil's guitar looked like originally. It looks very different now. It endured serious modifications including lower horn amputation, severe burns and a Larry Flynt for President sticker. It's in a Hard Rock Cafe somewhere.
He would occasionally make noises with the guitar by plugging it
It wasn't until he was 12 that he began to show a serious interest in manipulating the instrument to make music.
Having primarily heard the music his father was working on or listening to at home while growing up, Dweezil soon found himself exposed to some new sounds on the radio. Besides his father's
He listened to their records for hours on end trying to figure out a way to translate what he was hearing in his head to his fingers at the other end of the guitar. Along the way, he had opportunities to ask his dad for some help. "I remember asking Frank to help me figure out the song 'Revelation/Mother Earth' from Blizzard Of Oz. I really didn't know anything about chords and in that
To gain more fundamental knowledge of technique and scales Dweezil was fortunate to have some assistance from one of the musicians in his father's band at that time, Steve Vai. Dweezil became remarkably proficient in a very short amount of time due to his intense practicing sessions.
"Steve made a notebook, which I still have, of scales and exercises and I practiced the stuff from that book at least 5 hours a day." In 1982, at the age of
Later that year he recorded his first single, “My Mother Is A Space Cadet”, released on Frank Zappa’s Barking Pumpkin label.
The amazing story behind that recording is that it was produced by Edward Van Halen. (On the sleeve it is credited as being produced by De Vards in order to avoid any contractual issues for Van Halen.) Dweezil was 12 years old and had only been playing guitar 9 months when this track was recorded. Edward Van Halen played the opening slide guitar riff and the outro melody with the double stop bends. Dweezil plays all of the rest of the guitar parts.
(for the story of meeting Edward Van Halen for the first time click here.)
"There are no words to describe how inspirational it was for me to be able to work with Edward on that recording. I was 12, a novice player and in complete awe of his
He had 5 or 6 of them that he was using on tour and Edward played through all of them to see which one sounded best. At one point he was teaching me about doing punch in
In 1984, Dweezil contributed guitar solos to both “Stevie’s Spanking” and “Sharleena” on Frank’s album Them Or Us.
In 1986, Dweezil made his debut in Hollywood as an actor with his role in the classic 80s film Pretty In Pink. 1987 saw Dweezil raise his profile further with another film role alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mick Fleetwood in The Running Man.
Around this same time, Dweezil made his own cameo appearances on records for a variety of diverse artists. He played a solo on the Fat Boys "Baby You're A Rich Man"
Dweezil also played on the Grammy Nominated cover of "Wipeout" with Herbie Hancock and Terry Bozzio from the "Back To The Beach" film soundtrack. He was asked to join Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt in contributing guitar performances to Miami Vice star Don Johnson's solo album. While Dweezil actually played on the song "The Last Sound Love Makes" it was his appearance in the video for Don Johnson’s single “Heartbeat" that would most notably link him to the project.
1988 saw Dweezil sign a deal with Chrysalis Records, releasing his second album My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. The title track and video, a cover of the Frank Zappa single, found it's way into the MTV rotation.
More TV work followed in 1990 Dweezil and Moon Zappa starred with Laverne And Shirley legend Cindy Williams in a sitcom for CBS titled Normal Life.
With the release of his third album Confessions in 1991, Dweezil began to branch out musically, blending his heavy rock approach with touches of his father’s distinct compositional insignia. Guest appearances on this album pointed the way toward the future for Dweezil, including contributions from Nuno
There were a handful of live shows played to support the Confessions album. That tour saw the band develop a unique set of skills and usher in the birth of a remarkable
After completing the Confessions tour Dweezil formed a new band and project with Ahmet called Z. The band was primed to make a new album. Just as the band started to solidify the drummer Josh Freese exited.
Armed with a mountain of material and no permanent drummer the band entered the
The band featured Mike Keneally and Scott Thunes and initiated
It was created to take the audience on a tour of the history of music from the 60's-90's. The medley was only performed once at a NAMM show function for Peavey Electronics in 1995. Dweezil and the band were introduced that night by Dick Clark.
In 1996 released a follow-up album, Music For Pets, which had been pieced together over the previous three years. By the time of the album’s release, both Beller and Keneally had left the band and Z gradually ceased to exist. Dweezil stayed in the public eye however with several projects including composing the theme music for the Emmy
2000 saw Dweezil issue his first solo album since 1991’s Confessions... with the release of Automatic. By this time, Dweezil’s musicianship had come full-circle as he showed off his guitar virtuosity with eclectic all guitar orchestrations of "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" and "Hawaii 5-0."
In 2003 More television work came about as Dweezil formed a band for the WB unconventional improvisational comedy "On The Spot" and performed live in each episode. Click Here to watch.
He also composed the theme music for the WB series "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" and composed dozens of tracks for the music library Extreme Music. Many of
The next several years saw Dweezil preparing to take on an extremely difficult challenge—bringing his father’s legendary music back to the concert stage. In 2006, some indication of what could be expected surfaced with Dweezil’s next solo album Go With What You Know.
The album featured Dweezil’s most creative, advanced guitar work to date and he was aided by the propulsive brilliance of Joe Travers as well as keyboardist Aaron Arntz and bassist Pete Griffin, who would soon become mainstays in the live band Dweezil was putting together.
Finally, in the spring of 2006, Dweezil’s new live band Zappa Plays Zappa hit the road for their first, tour. Playing
Without a "
This lineup was captured in the group’s first Zappa Plays Zappa release on CD and DVD in 2008. This project netted Dweezil his first Grammy Award win for Best Instrumental Performance for its version of the Frank Zappa classic “Peaches En Regalia”.
In 2007, the tour continued and new elements were introduced. Ray White joined the tour on vocals. This lineup of the band recorded their next live outing Return Of The Son Of… which was issued under Dweezil’s name in 2010. Once again Dweezil found himself up for Grammy contention when the version of Frank’s guitar solo vehicle “The Deathless Horsie” was nominated for Best Instrumental Performance.
2009 saw ZPZ undergo its first major personnel changes. Both Aaron Arntz and Ray White left the band and were replaced by keyboardist Chris Norton and Ben Thomas on lead vocals and trumpet. The band continued their run of successful worldwide tours, playing to devoted fans and showcasing a constantly-changing selection of Frank Zappa compositional gems. In October 2009 the band started to become known as Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa, and in 2010 they embarked on a US tour during which the band played one of Frank’s best-loved albums, Apostrophe (‘), in its entirety. A DVD from that tour featuring performances by George Duke performing with ZPZ is imminent.
Constantly learning and evolving his guitar art, Dweezil Zappa is both the modern face of Zappa music and the person who can bring it fully-formed into the future.
Since 2010 Zappa Plays Zappa has released a few F.O.H recordings and altered it's band members. It's current 2014 lineup is known as the "rocking teenage combo." Now a 6 piece they are firing on all cylinders propelled by the
Boundless energy is contributed by the rest of the line up which includes original core member
Dweezil's own music has been sidelined for nearly a decade but is currently experiencing a resurgence. With new material written and recording dates lined up, 2015 will see the debut of new releases of Dweezil's own music and the continuing evolution of his guitar style.
Dweezil's music camp Dweezilla took a hiatus in 2014 but will return to the Full Moon Resort in 2017. Dweezil has always enjoyed sharing his ideas with students and loves to include other guitarists he admires as teachers at his camp.
2013 alumni from left to right: Oz Noy, Chris Buono, James Santiago, David Walliman, Dweezil Zappa, Tom Quayle, Derryl Gabel.
He has also participated with the likes of Jazz legends Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour in the
2015 marked a milestone for Dweezil's Zappa Plays Zappa project. The band has consistently played concerts around the world for the past 10 years. Racking up well over 1,000 shows. In that time Dweezil did not have
In 2016, Dweezil found himself in the midst of a conflict between 2 of his siblings which resulted in a name change for Dweezil's touring project. The dispute, spanning 2 years, was
Dweezil stopped using the name Zappa Plays Zappa and now continues to make music and tour under his own name.
The current band lineup is Dweezil's favorite so far. "This is the best version of the band I have ever had. The musicians are able to tackle the hardest instrumental passages and cover a limitless range of vocals."
Dweezil Zappa: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Scheila Gonzalez: Sax, Keys, Vocals
Adam Minkoff: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion
Cian Coey, Lead Vocals, Percussion
Ryan Brown: Drums, Vocals
Kurt Morgan: Bass, Vocals
Chris Norton, Keyboards, Vocals
Dweezil's most current album release (2018) is "Live In The Moment II," a guitar solo
Dweezil’s proudest accomplishments are as