The Big Note, compiled, designed and written by Michael Brenna, was back in the 80s one of the main Zappa sources and was referenced many times in other Zappa-related publications.
Comments by Michael Brenna:
"TBN 0.1" The original concept was to extend Pete Frame's early M.O.I. family tree beyond the 1960s and into the eighties, and to include the Magic Band line-ups. This turned out to be far too costly to print and distribute (and graphicallu unfeasible), so I opted for a simple A5 format. Typewriter and Letraset wouldn't do, so I stuck to handwriting – not as beautiful as Frame's, though. Desktop publishing was of course out of bounds in 1983.
"TBN 1.0 beta" A draft was presented to FZ in Oslo fall 1984. I had several conversations with Frank, and gave him two copies. He was pleased with the project, and encouraged me to go on. Later I discovered that he had handed out both his copies, one to somebody at the Oslo CBS office, and the other to a Norwegian newspaper journalist. One of these drafts (or a second generation copy) must have found its way to Willy Bakken, the author of the Ballade article. Willy B was a mad completist who indexed everything and gave significance to anything, as was the case with my draft manuscript.
"TBN 1.0" The first edition was published in 1985 as 5th anniversary supplement to Society Pages. The FZS was always broke, and this was a free bonus item to those who renewed their SP subscription. Approximately four or five hundred did. I sent copies to FZ and Jerry Fialka at Barfko-Swill, but got no response. FZ was known to be uneasy about the FZ Society, probably because of their use of his name and the bootleg coverage. But he neverteless seemed to turn a blind eye. He might have peeped over his nose, though, as he asked Jerry Fialka to get hold of The Spoo Show article in SP #22 (enclosed) as source material for the Real FZ book. The show is referred in The Road Rats section in TRFZB, chapter 8. FZ also took the dinosaur metaphor from the Spoo article, and used it in at least one of his interviews, cf. The License To Be A Maniac.
"TBN 2.0"A totally different second edition was published in 1990 as 10th anniversary supplement and swan song of FZS. It was at the same time an advertisment for the new US 'Society Pages' fanzine by Rob Samler and Den Simms. This second edition was organised album by album and quite detailed compared to 1.0, but it never caught on like its predecessor, or, for that matter, the other current handmade reference works, i.e. Zappalog and the Torchum series. (I was, however, never contesting Torchum the way the good Dr. Scialli insinuates in his afzz post – those silly words are his, not mine. *laughs*)
"TBN 2.x" This one is probably what John Scially means by 'the mini-Big Note'. It was merely a rundown on bands and an updated album list, xeroxed out on a simple sheet of paper, and circulated among friends in 1992, after the FZS was long gone. It shouldn't even be indexed as a publication. The Wiki Jawaka reference at Society Pages (Norway) is a bit of an overkill.
"TBN 3.x" The YCDTOSA draft referred by John Scialli was intended as a joint project with SP (US), but that publication had already collapsed by the time John wrote his afzz post, so nothing more came of it.