Watch Frank Zappa Play ‘Mudd Club’ In 1980 At The Room That Inspired The Song
The performance was filmed on May 8, 1980 at the 240-capacity nightclub.
By Scott Bernstein Mar 31, 2023 • 11:01 am PDT
One week after rare footage from the Frank Zappa vault filmed at the tiny Mudd Club in New York City on May 8, 1980 was rolled out, the late guitarist’s estate now shared a full song from the concert. Fittingly, Zappa’s version of “Mudd Club” was the choice.
The grungy Mudd Club was located in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood and was a fixture of the NYC cultural scene from 1978 through 1983. Zappa brought his band to the intimate space during an arena tour. The lineup at the time saw Frank joined by keyboardist Tommy Mars, drummer David Logeman, guitarists Ray White and Ike Willis and bassist Arthur Barrow. Audio of the show was paired with a recording of a concert held at Munich, Germany’s mammoth Olympiahalle on July 3, 1980 for the latest FZ live archival release, Zappa 80: Mudd Club/Munich.
Frank’s appreciation for Mudd Club was discussed as part of Zappa 80: Mudd Club/Munich liner notes penned by Joe Travers. “Zappa loved the small, seedy club and the punks, posers and hipsters that called it home, and so made it a priority to play there while on tour, scheduling a performance on May 8th, 1980, at the tiny 240-capacity room, sandwiched between much larger arena dates in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island where he played two shows in one night to more than 20,000 fans total,” wrote the “Vaultmeister.”
“Mudd Club” was first performed live by Frank Zappa in March 1980. A studio version appeared on 1981’s You Are What You Is with the maestro re-recording the song for inclusion on Thing-Fish three years later. Zappa gave the following introduction at the NYC nightclub:
“The name of this song is the ‘Mudd Club.’ It’s a song about the place in which you’re now standing. Based on real events that actually took place here. Performed by real denizens of the area … some of whom may be in the audience tonight, although we can’t be sure.”
See Frank Zappa lead his band through “Mudd Club” at Mudd Club below: