Sunday, December 18, 2011

Frank Meets The Velvet Revolution

In 1989, Vaclav Havel became president of the new Czech Republic in the wake of the Velvet Revolution which brought down the Communist Government..
Havel, a dissident playwright who was jailed under the Communist Rule for his work and activism was a long time fan of Frank Zappa who was one of the heroes of the Czech Avant Garde and counter culture. He was referred to as one of the most influential composer and artists and his recordings were smuggled into the country.  In 1990, he invited Frank to Prague and actually appointed him "Special  Ambassador of Trade, Culture and Tourism" much to the disgruntlement of U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, who declared, "You can do business with the United States or you can do business with Frank Zappa." This of course did not get in the way of Vaclev and Zappa's friendship and Frank did a lot to help the Czech tourist industry and helped the Czechs understand the concept of credit cards.
This was part of an interview Zappa did in Prague in 1990.
Havel remained a fan of Zappa's up to the end. Havel died today at age 75 on the 12th Day of Zappadan 2011.
Zappadan bonus! Hungry Freaks Daddy, the song Frank mentions in the interview recorded in 1965:


MRMacrum said...

That you are a Zappa fan ensues my return on a regular basis.

I knew Frank was popular in Eastern Europe, but had no idea he had such a close relationship with Havel.

Proof of his popularity there can be found just down the road in Lithuania, where I think the only public statue of Frank has been displayed. Seems a shame he wasn't appreciated or given the respect due him. But then I remember - Frank did not give a shit about who respected him, he was more concerned with who he respected. To this day "Hot Rats" remains one of my favorite albums of all time.

microdot said...

I've been a Zappa fan since 1966. I saw him quite a few times in the midwest in the 60's and 70's and then in NYC in the 80's....It was a wild ride.