Hear 15 Hours of Frank Zappa’s Legendary 1977 Halloween Performances at New York’s Palladium

What do you give the Zap­pa fan who has every­thing? Why, of course, the three-disc set, Frank Zap­pa Hal­loween 77—a doc­u­ment of Zap­pa per­for­mances at New York’s Pal­la­di­um in 1977 dur­ing a Hal­loween week­end stint—just released only a few days ago in an offi­cial form, as well as in a box set fea­tur­ing 158 tracks and a Zap­pa mask and cos­tume. Ah, it is too late! Too late! you say. The day is upon us! Tru­ly, it is, but a Zap­pa cos­tume nev­er goes out of style—it can be worn year-round with­out embar­rass­ment. And while you wait for the swag to arrive, light up your Hal­loween night with 15 hours of tracks from the four-night engage­ment in the Spo­ti­fy playlist below.

By the time of these record­ings, Zappa’s Hal­loween shows were “already the stuff of leg­ends,” we learn from the offi­cial source, Zappa.com. “While the shows began in the late ‘60s, around 1972, these mon­u­men­tal per­for­mances would become annu­al events, ini­tial­ly in Pas­sa­ic, NJ and Chica­go IL before mov­ing to New York City in 1974, where they’d remain…. From Octo­ber 28–31, Zap­pa and his band played six his­toric shows at the 3,000 capac­i­ty Pal­la­di­um. All the per­for­mances were record­ed with four being filmed, result­ing in Zappa’s mam­moth film project, ‘Baby Snakes.’”

The 1979 film failed to find an audi­ence beyond Zappa’s rabid­ly loy­al cult fol­low­ing, or a dis­trib­u­tor beyond Zap­pa him­self. Many of the songs Zap­pa and his band played dur­ing the series of con­certs appeared that same year on Sheik Yer­bouti (say it out loud), an album that made sure to piss peo­ple off. The song “Bob­by Brown” was banned from the radio in the U.S.; The Anti-Defama­tion League demand­ed an apol­o­gy, which Zap­pa refused, for the song “Jew­ish Princess,” which was only per­formed once, dur­ing the ’77 Hal­loween shows; and the album’s major hit, “Dancin’ Fool,” made audi­ences dance to a song that made fun of them.

Zappa’s anti-social antics were not bugs but features—he main­tained a rabid fan­base no mat­ter what he did because he was a phe­nom­e­nal­ly tal­ent­ed, irre­press­ibly cre­ative musi­cian who attract­ed the best play­ers in the busi­ness. The 1977 Hal­loween show band—including mad­man drum­mer Ter­ry Bozzio and King Crim­son gui­tarist Adri­an Belew—could not have been in fin­er form. Zappa’s arro­gance may have rubbed non-fans of his music the wrong way, but to those who couldn’t get enough of his vir­tu­oso prog-rock car­ni­val, he had every rea­son to hold such peo­ple in con­tempt.

Zap­pa inspired so much devo­tion among fel­low musi­cians that a num­ber of them have agreed to tour with a holo­gram of the late gui­tarist-band­leader, to be pro­duced by Eye­l­lu­sion, “live music’s pre­mier holo­gram pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny,” explains the offi­cial Zap­pa site. The project has proven, in the words of Belew, who signed on then dropped out of the tour, “caus­tic and divi­sive.” It may also, whether you’re a fan of Zap­pa or not, seem more than a lit­tle spooky, and not in the fun trick-or-treat way. Maybe you, or your Zap­pa fan, would pre­fer to remem­ber him as he was, in the flesh, sneer­ing and shred­ding at the Pal­la­di­um on Hal­loween night, 1977.

via @jhoffman

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Hear the Musi­cal Evo­lu­tion of Frank Zap­pa in 401 Songs

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

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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