Invisible Jukebox. Louis Moholo-Moholo

By Mike Barnes

The Wire, June, 2017

[ ... ]

Frank Zappa
“Peaches En Regalia”

From Hot Rats (Zappa) 1969

I've read that this is someone who wanted to work with you.

Who's this?

Frank Zappa.

Oh, yes. That was the Amougies Festival in Belgium [in 1969]. Archie Shepp was the king there and he liked what we were doing with Johnny Dyani and Mongezi Feza, and particularly liked what I was doing at the time -- he'd heard a record I had made with Roswell Rudd -- so he asked me if I could jump on the bandstand and play with him at that festival. On the bandstand who do I see but Philly Joe Jones, of all people, on another kit. And I look to my right and I see this man and I recognise him. He's picking up a bass guitar and someone says, that's Frank Zappa. I think, Oh yeah, wow. There's a black brother sitting on one of the speakers in the bandstand and he's got a trumpet in his hand, just sitting there. They say, he's Cal Massey, the composer of “Blues For Coltrane”. Then in comes Archie. Everything's cool and we have a sound check, they checked Philly Joe Jones first and then they check me, which was a pleasure. Then Frank Zappa. Oh my God, that night!

So we played this gig and Frank is playing next to me. So we have some fun of some kind and we liked what we were doing which made it easy for us to deal with Archie. Afterwards I met Frank at the pay counter, the tent where we were getting our wages. Frank asks me if I am interested in going to the States. At the time I was enjoying playing too much with Dudu. I would give my right arm to play with Dudu some more, and I was afraid to go to the States anyway. I know my wife wouldn't have looked to go to the States and I wasn't interested in going. I was OK in Europe. I'd gone away from a pop drumming thing. I wanted to experiment with what I was doing in progressive music, because I had gone through the pop thing with Alexis Korner, with Chris McGregor as well.

And I believe that John Lennon asked you much the same thing.

[Sings' "Imagine all the people ...". There was a gig in Cambridge [Natural Music in May 1969]. So we are there with John Tchioai, Yoko Ono, John Stevens, Trevor Watts, Barre Phillips, Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani. We hear a lot of noise from outside, all these kids. And we wonder what the fuck is happening and there comes John Lennon and goes straight to Yoko Ono. John Stevens was working with Yoko Ono, but we didn`t realise at the time that she and John Lennon were in love. So we are playing and being the people that we are, the free music people, very nice people, we say, “Hey John what's happening man?' John asks if there are any instruments around and he asked to play one of the songs, and of course we are free people, so we went onstage. He also asked me whether I was interested to go to States and I said 'No, I can't do that, man'.

Why were you afraid of going to the States?

The stories that we heard of people coming away from the States on heroin. I was quite wild then, so I would probably have been dead by now.

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Free Jazz JamThis is excerpt from interview with Louis Moholo-Moholo. See also Europe's Answer To Woodstock: The First Actuel Paris Music Festival, Down Beat, January 1970, which contains picture of this performance with FZ, Louis Moholo etc.

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