Three Public Service Announcements by Frank Zappa: Vote, Brush Your Teeth, and Don’t Do Speed

By the 1980s, Frank Zappa was entering the third decade of his musical career. An icon of the avant-garde music scene, Zappa had cultural capital to spend. And spend he did. On one occasion in 1986, Zappa appeared on CNN’s Crossfire, where he sparred with conservatives looking to censor rock lyrics. On other occasions, he recorded public service announcements (PSAs) that encouraged a younger generation to make better life decisions. The PSAs dealt with the mundane and the deadly serious, and things that fell somewhere in between. But they were always presented in Zappa’s own distinctive way.

Above we start you off with Zappa’s “Register to Vote” PSAs from 1984. It’s worth recalling that the ’84 presidential election pitted the incumbent Ronald Reagan against Walter Mondale. That’s followed by Zappa (now reborn as “The Dental Floss Tycoon”) recording PSAs for the American Dental Association in 1981. And finally we head back to the late 1960s, when Zappa cut announcements for The Do It Now Foundation, an organization dedicated to highlighting the dangers of amphetamine abuse. At its height, the campaign aired on 1,500 radio stations across the US and beyond.

Brush Your Teeth

Don’t Do Speed

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.