Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa

Overview

In 1967, 21-year-old Pauline Butcher was working for a London secretarial agency when one evening a call came through from a Mr Frank Zappa asking for a typist to come to his hotel room. The assignment would change her life forever.

After this chance encounter with the charismatic musician, at Frank’s request Pauline moved with him, his family and his band the Mothers of Invention to a log cabin in the Hollywood Hills. There, the “straight” young English girl from Twickenham ...

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Freak Out!: My Life With Frank Zappa

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Overview

In 1967, 21-year-old Pauline Butcher was working for a London secretarial agency when one evening a call came through from a Mr Frank Zappa asking for a typist to come to his hotel room. The assignment would change her life forever.

After this chance encounter with the charismatic musician, at Frank’s request Pauline moved with him, his family and his band the Mothers of Invention to a log cabin in the Hollywood Hills. There, the “straight” young English girl from Twickenham spent her days in the company of a succession of famous names, mixing with Oscar winners and rock royalty, including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Captain Beefheart and Tiny Tim. Often working nights and sleeping days, for three years Pauline served as Zappa’s secretary, running his fan club, the United Mutations, and organising rehearsals, live appearances and recording sessions for the GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), an all-female rock act supported and produced by Zappa.

Freak Out! is the captivating story of a naive young English girl thrust into the mad world of a musical legend. A vivid depiction of the late sixties rock’n’roll scene and the stark realities behind Hollywood’s perceived glamour, this memoir is also the most revealing and intimate portrait of Frank Zappa ever written.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The book describes a formative time in the life of an innovative musical artist, which Zappa most certainly was. But it also captures a particularly intense experience of a very brief, yet enormously influential, period in the evolution of western womanhood.' — The Guardian

'Freak Out! provides an affectionate, revelatory but clear-eyed portrayal of the peculiar dynamic at the heart of the Mother superior's inner sanctum. Zappa’s contradictory nature is deftly delineated ("he stood in judgement on almost everyone in the outside world yet I knew no other man more unassuming, humble or compassionate") and a compelling cast of minor characters drift through the narrative: an elliptical, quixotic Captain Beefheart, the luckless, rudderless Wild Man Fischer, gentlemanly multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood, visionary sleeve artist Cal Schenkel and Pauline’s eventual charges, the unruly and elemental GTOs. A vital purchase for those that love their Mothers. 4*s' Reviewed by Oregano Rathbone — Record Collector

‘Revelatory and keenly perceptive. In 1967, Zappa ordered a typist up to his London hotel room, and when Butcher arrived, they hit it off to such an extent that eventually he offered her a job as his personal secretary. She accepted, moved to Los Angeles, and was promptly thrown into madness that from the distance of time seems irresistible. With a backdrop of the chaotic late 1960s extending into 1972, Butcher battles Zappa's wife Gail, develops interesting friendships with musician Ian Underwood and album artist Cal Schenkel, wrangles the GTOs (an all-girl act produced by Zappa), and meets a variety of eccentrics and rock stars: Tiny Tim, Captain Beefheart, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and members of Pink Floyd. Offering deeply personal glimpses of Zappa, Butcher's coming-of-age story is so captivating and vividly told that many will be surprised to discover it's her first book.' — The Austin Chronicle

'Contains lots of inside information about the true state of the grubby log cabin. Pauline's time with the Zappas was very eventful, with an assassination attempt, constant work-related squabbles with Gail (who she says 'has three speeds: slow, very slow, and stop'), and general in-house strife. But she also had many good times, getting to see moments of pure brilliance as well as witness some of Frank's more fanciful projects (the GTOs, Wild Man Fischer, etc.). This is an honest, accurate - and very well written - account of her thoughts and feelings at the time, based as it is on her diaries and letters home. Entertaining and occasionally laugh-out loud funny, too.' — Andrew Greenaway, author of Zappa the Hard Way

'Irrefutably complex, infuriatingly enigmatic Frank Zappa remained a mystery to everyone bar his inner circle. Now someone who was close to the musician throughout the turbulent 60s has broken her silence. Pauline Butcher was a quiet, shy English girl who was refreshingly free of any rock star hang ups... A fascinating insight into the life of Frank Zappa, it also stands as a wonderful fly on the wall account of a whirlwind era in the evolution of rock music. ClashMusic has gained a short extract, which includes a walk on appearance from a certain Mr M. Jagger and Miss M. Faithfull . . .' — ClashMusic

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780859654791
  • Publisher: Plexus Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 952,288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

London-born Pauline Butcher worked in Los Angeles as Frank Zappa’s PA from 1967-1971. During this time, she ran the fan club of the Mothers of Invention, and managed the all-girl rock act the GTOs. After returning to England in the early 1970s, she studied at Cambridge University, and went on to teach A-level psychology. She now lives in Singapore with her husband. This is her first book.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Great, personal look at Zappa

    It's well written, full of a lot of anecdotal moments and interesting bits about Suzy Creamcheese, Gail, Frank, and more. It's not as stuffy as Barry Miles book, or as pompous as Frank let himself be in his autobiography, so it's a nice, fresh perspective, and I highly encourage anyone interested in Zappa to check it out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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