The Boss Mother Meets The Animals

By Frank Zappa

Hit Parader, July, 1967

In the March Hit Parader, Eric Burdon told a British reporter about the way-out people he had met on his last American tour.

“Before returning to Britain I recorded some material with Frank Zappa, the leader of the Mothers of Invention, who is regarded as the leading light on the ‘freakout’ scene in America,” said Eric.

“Zappa is a very interesting character – about 28 years old. He makes these weird movies and puts the soundtracks on them himself. He showed me one of a guy picking spots on his leg, and another with a sequence taken by an infra-red camera of a guy necking with this typical Hollywood blonde, all ‘lipsticky’ and ‘high-heely’. It’s not meant to be entertaining so much as effective – and that it is!

When we showed the article to lead Mother, Frank Zappa, he exclaimed, “Gads! Spots on his leg! Oh, no! There’s a guy just had a motorcycle accident. I got a picture. He had scabs on his legs and he was squeezing them.”

Frank also explained that Eric had his age wrong. Frank is really only twenty-five.

After discussing the Mothers’ music at length, we got back to the encounter between Frank and the Animals in Los Angeles. Here now is a true story with more action, suspense and laughter than “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein”, “Hercules Meets Doctor Zhivago” and “The Bobbsey Twins Meet Fanny Hill”. Take it away, Frank Zappa:


“On July 4, 1966, on what you might describe as a moment’s notice, I was asked to manufacture, on behalf of Tom Wilson, for the Animals, a musical organization from England, a set of arrangements. [1] I was told: just go in there, tell the musicians what you want and they’ll play it.

“I get to the studio at 11 o’clock. I’m the only one there. Then Tom Wilson comes in. He asks, ‘Where are the Animals?’ I say, ‘Gee, I don’t know, Tom.’

“I had called the musician’s union and I brought down a girl who plays the bass and 12-string guitar, who’s a monster named Carol Kaye. She’s really good ... one of the top studio players in L.A. Also, Don Randi on piano, Johnny Guerin on drums. I was playing guitar on one tune and the bass on ‘The Other Side Of This Life,’ and I had a guy on harmonica, the guy who originally wrote ‘Hey Joe.’ [2]

“Eric shows up with his drummer around 1:30 or so because they had been to a monster party the night before and they’d been out being spectacular celebrities having a wonderful time in show business all over town and paying very little attention to minding the store.

“They come walking in and everyone starts playing demos for them because they didn’t even know what they were going to record. Meanwhile we have all these union people sitting around at triple time because it was a holiday. They were waiting to find out what to do.

“Finally they decide what they’re going to cut, we make two tracks with the union guys, and then the Animals themselves show up around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and they run through four or five old R&B songs like ‘Long, Tall Sally’ and ‘Hit The Road, Jack.’

“The two songs the union cats played sounded pretty tight. They sounded better than the Animals. Different. It was a different mix.”

“After we did the session, I started talking with Eric. ‘Show business is wonderful.’ ‘Yes sir, Frank.’ ‘Yes, it is, Eric.’

“Anyway, they came over to my house that night. I had never entertained anybody at my new house. I live with about six people. They entertain me, but I had never had any groups over. One of the guys who had been coming over was Ray Elliot, the organ player from Them. He was really a groovy cat. I really dug him. But he’d get blotto and fall all over the furniture and just make a disaster.

“The Animals were there, just sitting around in the dimly lit room, getting wasted and having merry fun and grabbing girls as they walked by.

“Meanwhile, Eric is going through my collection of R&B records and going out of his mind with joy. ‘Here’s the original record of....’ ‘Oh, no....’ ‘Wow.’ And we played some of them.

“Then I set up my projector and screen and proceeded to show them my home movies, of an experimental nature, accompanying the movies with a collection of electronic music.

“Everybody sat there looking at the spots on the leg, not knowing how to take it. Some of them got very paranoid and wanted to leave, It made them very tense.

“Eric dug it. He stayed until 4 o’clock in the morning, then he split.

“Then, without notice, they all came back the next night and proceeded to almost demolish my house. In the middle of that, Roy Elliot of Them comes walking in and he really did demolish my house. We wheeled him out and put him in a cab.

“I didn’t know that it had affected Eric that much until I started reading all these things he said in the Hit Parader article, It must have really blown his mind. Ha Ha.”

* See “My Favorite Records” by Frank Zappa in the next issue.

1. Tom Wilson produced the album Animalism, released in December 1966, which includes Frank Zappa song “All Night Long”. Zappa gets arrangement credits for  “All Night Long” and  “The Other Side Of This Life”. As we know now FZ was playing guitar on the first one and bass on the second.

2. Billy Roberts, singer, guitar and harmonica player

Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at)