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.