Zappa's Dream: Super Pool Of Musicians

By Pete Senoff

Daily Sundial, May 17, 1968

Within a space of 11 days this month, no less than six major rock groups were strongly threatening to break up and go their separate ways.

Indeed, such super influences as Cream, The Electric Flag, The Doors, Traffic, Blood Sweat & Tears and the Buffalo Springfield were ready to call it quits as groups and set to either retire or reorganize. Of these six so far, only the Springfield and Blood, Sweat & Tears have definitely followed suit, but you can bet the others are waiting … uneasily, biding their time for the right moment.

What's behind the mass shakeup? Can the music industry look forward to more of this in the future? To get some insight into the issue, I sought the advice of a Mother. Not my mother, but THE Mother, Frank Zappa. I cornered Zappa last weekend in the cavernous Shrine Exhibition Hall, moments before his band, the Mothers of Invention, laid siege upon the collective musical minds of Los Angeles and left them enthralled in a web of unexcelled mastery.

According to Zappa, this mass shakeup could very well mark the beginning of the end for the band-form as we know it today. "There are just too many groups in existence for the public to support," he said. This shakeup is indicative of the fact that the musicians, themselves, know this fact to be true and are attempting to remedy the situation.

Zappa sees only two alternatives to future music: The first being the development of a whole new form of music. Something altogether different than some of the drivel we are being force-fed today. But this suggestion, as Zappa readily admitted, will take quite some time to reach its peak and the music industry can't expect the public to sit on its tail and wait.

His other alternative is more in the way of a pet-project that Zappa has nurtured in the back at his mini for some time. This plan calls for the formulation of a "super motor-pool of musicians" — a collection of some of the heaviest and most talented men in the field, assembled under one central banner.

From this pool, booking agents, clubs and concert people can request a certain number of musicians for a particular event — say a five-man band. The hitch is that the requester cannot specify who he wants — the musicians, themselves, would decide which five men to send out.

This five-man unit would have a maximum of one week to practice and work together (with the ideal assemblage of talent that Zappa envisions for this project, one week’s practice would be more than enough time.)

By the time the performance night rolls around, no one but the musicians themselves will know what kind of musical treats will prevail (and treats they'd be). Think of some of the possibilities for combinations: How about a blues band composed of Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and Buddy Miles; or a rock group of Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Jack Bruce and Janis Joplin?

But Zappa is first to admit that there is one major hitch in this "ideal" plan. The same hitch that is the impetus behind many of the current group split-ups. That, of course, being the individual ego trips that dominate the musical scene. The musicians would have to think and work as one coherent body — not a mass of individual prima donnas. That this could happen is purely speculative.

But if it did happen — Think about it!

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