Alex Winter, best known for his role in the “Bill and Ted” movies, has recently been given the blessing of the Zappa Family Trust to produce a long-overdue documentary about avant-garde musician, producer and activist Frank Zappa. The as yet unnamed film is set to be released in 2017.
In an interview with Variety, Winter stated, “There has yet to be a definitive, authorized documentary on the extraordinary life and work of Frank Zappa. I am beyond thrilled to be embarking on this journey. Our tale will be told primarily in Frank’s own words; he will be our guide through this journey.”
Zappa and his Mothers of Invention released their debut album, Freak Out!, in 1966. Between then and his death from prostate cancer in 1993 at the age of 52, Zappa released upwards of 70 albums in genres that include rock, pop, jazz and classical. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. His legacy includes not only his musical compositions, but also mentorship to such acclaimed musicians as drummer Terry Bozzio and guitarist Steve Vai.
Zappa’s most public personna though, may well be his testimony before the United States Senate in 1985 during hearings regarding the labeling of music to protect children from offensive content. Zappa was a vocal opponent of the Parents’ Music Resource Center and their efforts to place labels on records they deemed offensive.
Future Zappa releases featured the following disclaimer:
“WARNING! This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress. The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business. This guarantee is as real as the threats of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ). If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.”
Winter will have unfettered access to the archives of the Zappa Family Trust to make this documentary. If, as Winter says, it is told in Frank Zappa’s words, it is sure to be the most interesting documentary released in the past decade.