An Unexpected Zappa Tribute

Frank Zappa in 1969 (Photo by Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images)

Mike Jones didn’t tell me this story until 10:00 am Wednesday, otherwise this post would have been up during Wednesday’s show.

December 4, 1993 marked the day the legendary composer Frank Zappa passed away from prostate cancer. The wizard of songwriting, engineering and producing had been diagnosed with the terminal illness three years earlier — the disease had been developing unnoticed for ten years and was considered inoperable.

Fast-forward a few days later, Jones and his then girlfriend had tickets to the Duran Duran concert at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Jones, a massive Zappa fan, was a little reluctant to go (or a lot reluctant to go, I mean, it was Duran Duran) due to the timing, but went ahead anyway.

The small incentive that may have given Jones a little extra hop in his step to get out the door was knowing that Warren Bruce Cuccurullo, a longtime guitarist for Frank Zappa, was going to be playing with Duran Duran. Anyway, as the lights dimmed and Duran Duran was set to take the stage, Cuccurullo entered only to lead the launch into the instrumental Zappa song, “Watermelon in Easter Hay.” The unexpected tribute left Jones — and the thousands of attendees, who as Jones puts it, “probably didn’t know who he even was” — in awe.

The piece was so powerful and generated such a warm response that Cuccurullo and the band continued to perform it for the remainder of the tour to honor Zappa.

Here is a rendition from the New York City show on that same tour:

SEE ALSO: Frank Zappa: 20 Years After His Death [Gallery]

-Chris “The Beatnik” Coyle

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