The Who2 Blog

Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa!

Frank Zappa died in 1993. Had he lived, he’d be celebrating his 62nd birthday. In his honor, watch an interview and listen to a song.

The interview featuring Frank Zappa isn’t about his career in the music industry, not precisely. It’s a old favorite from 1986, when Zappa appeared on the CNN arguing-head show Crossfire to discuss music censorship. At the time there was a hue and cry about “protecting our families” from the “filth” in pop music.

In this video, Frank pretty much stands alone as he stands firm that we don’t need to ban words. He’s pestered relentlessly by John Lofton, a conservative columnist for The Washington Times in the 1980s. Lofton is still around, and on his website he even promotes the famous Crossfire argument (he repeatedly claims he “won” the argument with Zappa — because Zappa is dead, which Lofton seems to think is funny).

The best moment in the argument comes at the 8:18 mark. That’s when Lofton indignantly asks, “How much money have you made peddling this stuff, Mr. Zappa?”

Zappa faces Lofton and says, “Millions of dollars. Millions of dollars, Mr. Lofton.”

Lofton and the rest of the pro-censorship crowd got what they wanted: ratings on music. It sure worked — you almost never hear naughty words in pop music any more. The government to the rescue, exactly what a good conservative Republican wants!

If you’d rather not celebrate Frank Zappa’s birthday by watching him being berated and mischaracterized, I understand. That’s why I’m also including the song “Willie the Pimp” from the Zappa album Hot Rats:

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