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The importance of being absurdist: Why Frank Zappa’s music holds a lesson for all of us

The rock icon pushed boundaries—and inspired weirdos the world over

By Alex Dean   May 2021

Oddity as a virtue: Prodigious and unpredictable, Frank Zappa built a musical oeuvre that defies any classification. Photo: Archive PL / Alamy Stock Photo

Who is the best rock musician of all time? Bob Dylan? Jimi Hendrix? Maybe, for the genre’s historians, an overlooked innovator like Sister Rosetta Tharpe? The debate among fans will never be settled: taste is subjective.

A more interesting, if less discussed, question is: who is the weirdest? There are lots of plausible candidates. The Residents, an anonymous quartet, dressed like giant eyeballs with top hats and canes. Ozzy Osbourne had a pet shoe. Not to mention 1980s noise-rock outfit the Butthole Surfers.

For me, the answer to both these questions is one and the same: Frank…

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