Frank Zappa out for three weeks

By ?

Melody Maker, December 18, 1971

Three of the Mothers of Invention’s concerts at London’s Rainbow Theatre last weekend were cancelled following an incident after the first show on Friday night.

The incident resulted in Zappa falling off the stage into the orchestra pit, and being carried to hospital in an ambulance.

At one stage he was unconscious, but doctors at a Harley Street clinic – where he was taken on Saturday – disclosed that he was suffering from a compound fracture of the leg and severe bruising. There is no brain damage of internal injuries, and he is expected to stay in hospital for about three weeks.

The group’s run of bad luck during their current European tour started a fortnight ago when a blaze wrecked their equipment during a performance at the Montreux Casino. The Casino was severely damaged by the blaze but the group escaped unhurt.

New equipment had to be hired when the group reached England last week, and frantic rehearsal sessions were held at the Rainbow in time for Friday night’s two performances.

The show on Friday went off well and the incident occurred just as the group were leaving the stage following an encore. The audience were about to leave their seats when a man rushed on the stage. Zappa was knocked into the orchestra pit. The audience were asked to remain in their seats while the situation was assessed. They were then told to leave the theatre quietly.

Around 3,500 fans had gathered outside expecting to be admitted to the second show but they were turned away by Rainbow ushers. On the Saturday night word had travelled that the two shows were to be cancelled and only about 1,000 fans showed up at the Theatre for both houses.

Rainbow manager John Morris told the MM on Saturday: “Tickets will be refunded at the box office for cash, or by mail by postal order. Fans can change their Zappa tickets for tickets for other concerts at the theatre if they want to. Around ten and a half thousand tickets were sold but not used.”

Morris expressed grateful thanks for the way in which the audience at the show acted after the incident. “Everybody sat down quietly and then filed out in an orderly manner,” he said. “I have a tremendous respect for them considering what happened.”

On Saturday a 24-year-old youth was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Zappa, and remanded on bail.

Herb Cohen, Frank’s manager, said he expected The Mothers’ plans to be delayed for about six months. After Zappa left hospital he would be on crutches for a month, and would not be able to work on stage for another three of four months. The delay will affect a movie they are shooting next year, Billy The Mountain, which is based on a number in their act. Also, a number of concert tours, a couple of new albums, and the release of the nine-album Mothers anthology, due in March, will suffer.

Cohen said their plans were all hazy at present. No decision has been made for The Mothers to go out on the road without Frank. That, and other issues, would be discussed when they were all back in the States.

The Mothers themselves flew out on Monday. Cohen will stay with Zappa until he is fit to leave.

He and Frank will be in London over Christmas now. “Let’s hope it snows,” he said.