A Young Frank Zappa Turns the Bicycle into a Musical Instrument on The Steve Allen Show (1963)

Last week we gave you John Cage per­form­ing his avant-garde com­po­si­tion Water Walk on the CBS game show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1960. Now, this week, we’re fol­low­ing up with a nice com­ple­ment — Frank Zap­pa bring­ing his own brand of off­beat music to the Amer­i­can air­waves in 1963. Only 22 years old and not yet famous, Zap­pa appeared on The Steve Allen Show and made music with some drum­sticks, a bass bow, and two gar­den-vari­ety bicy­cles — and noth­ing more.

The video above gives you most­ly the pre­lude to the actu­al music. Then, in the first video below, Zap­pa gives a demo of the instru­ments. Next comes the Con­cer­to for Two Bicy­cles, which fea­tures the show’s house orches­tra join­ing the cacoph­o­nous fun. The clips run a good 15 min­utes.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Frank Zap­pa Gets Sur­prised & Ser­e­nad­ed by the U.S. Navy Band at the San Fran­cis­co Air­port (1980)

Ani­mat­ed: Frank Zap­pa on Why the Cul­tur­al­ly-Bereft Unit­ed States Is So Sus­cep­ti­ble to Fads (1971)

Frank Zap­pa Explains the Decline of the Music Busi­ness (1987)

Frank Zappa’s Amaz­ing Final Con­certs: Prague and Budapest, 1991

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.