The Hot Rats Book: A Fifty-Year Retrospective of Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats

A movie for your ears – Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats album was released 50 years ago today, October 10, 1969. A magnificent recording that compels us to listen to it over and over again.

December 15th, The Hot Rats Book by Bill Gubbins and Ahmet Zappa launches via Backbeat Books celebrating the 50th anniversary of Zappa’s Hot Rats album.

The commemorative book will feature previously unpublished photographs by Gubbins. He was the only photographer permitted to document the record’s studio sessions.

The book also includes an interview between Ahmet and Gubbins about the album. It also covers the last Mothers Of Invention US show. That event took place on August 10, 1969, at Cleveland’s Musicarnival.

Ahmet says: “These books provide another way for fans to connect with Frank Zappa. They give a fascinating window into Frank’s mind and the ideas he came up with throughout his career.”

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Hot Rats – Frank Zappa

The music of our heart from a Father and Son point of view reflects on 1969 and the recording Hot Rats. 

Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa, released in October 1969. It was Zappa’s first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention. In his original sleeve notes Zappa described the album as “a movie for your ears.”

Hot Rats is my favorite recording in the Frank Zappa discography. The track from this album that I can play endlessly is “Peaches En Regalia“, an instrumental jazz fusion piece.

The musicians on that track are:

  • Frank Zappa — guitar, octave bass.
  • Ian Underwood — keyboards, flute, saxophone, clarinet
  • Shuggie Otis — bass
  • Ron Selico — drums

The album was dedicated to Zappa’s newborn son, Dweezil Zappa. In February 2009, Dweezil’s band, Zappa Plays Zappa and former Zappa alumni Steve Vai andNapoleon Murphy Brock won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for their rendition of “Peaches en Regalia.”[6]

Don “Sugarcane” Harris’s Vintage Era

Cover of "Usa Union"
Cover of Usa Union

I was listening to John Mayall‘s USA Union (1970) recording this afternoon. What really caught my ear was the stellar performance of Don “Sugarcane” Harris on electric violin.  USA Union was a continuation of  John Mayall’s  musical jazz/blues period which featured “no drums” that began with The Turning Point (Live -1969) and Empty Rooms (Studio – 1970).

John Mayall’s USA Union band consisted of:

John Mayall – Electric guitar, keyboards, harmonica and vocals

Harvey Mandel – Electric guitar

Larry “The Mole” Taylor –  Acoustic and electric bass

and Don “Sugarcane” Harris – Electric violin

Sugarcane Harris was in high demand from 1969 – 1971, his vintage years. Frank Zappa was a major fan of the American rock duo Don and Dewey so he recruited Sugarcane for his jazz avant-garde recording, Hot Rats. Frank Zappa continued to use Sugarcane on Burnt Weenie Sandwich, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, and Chunga’s Revenge.