Remembering Frank Zappa: 5 Memorable Live Covers

By Andy Kahn Dec 4, 2017 2:00 pm PST

Today marks 24 years since the untimely death of legendary musician Frank Zappa. The Baltimore-native was just 52 when he passed away from cancer in 1993, leaving behind a nearly unparalleled legacy as a musical innovator. The iconoclastic, outspoken anti-censorship crusader crossed genres and blended artistic forms while crafting his endless continuous Project/Object massive body of work.

The unfortunate conflicts currently between his four surviving children and the Zappa Family Trust have kept Frank in the spotlight in recent years. A ZFT supported tour featuring a hologram of the family patriarch is currently in development. While the hologram tour seeks to keep the spirit and music of Frank Zappa alive, several jam scene musicians have helped to the same by covering classic Zappa songs. Below is a collection of five times improvisational rock bands have covered the late legend.

A part of several Gov’t Mule’s performances over the years, Warren Haynes has led the group through his arrangement of “Trouble Everyday.” The song appeared on the 1966 The Mothers of Invention album Freak Out!. Here’s Haynes & Co. giving it a spin at Mountain Jam 2012 captured by sgibson818:

A longtime staple of both Mule and the Disco Biscuits setlists is Zappa’s “Pygmy Twylyte.” Former Frank collaborator, percussionist Ed Mann sat-in with tDB at the 2016 Great North Music & Arts Festival. Pro-shot video of the collaborative “Pygmy Twylyte” opens the video below:

The Disco Biscuits (See 196 videos)
The Disco Biscuits (See 292 videos)

Umphrey’s McGee have incorporated a number of Frank’s songs into setlists over the years. An UM show at Red Rocks in 2016 featured Frank’s son Dweezil Zappa both opening the concert and sitting-in with UM. Captured by OGMIII, watch UM’s lone performance of “Muffin Man” with Dweezil below:

Zappa’s “San Ber’dino” was first covered by moe. in 1994 and was subsequently played a few more times in 1995. It was shelved for several years, returning on New Year’s Eve 1998 and remaining in rotation for a few more years. The One Size Fits All song then became a rarity, being played sparingly between 2005 and the present. Here’s video via TeamCanada2012 of their “San Ber’dino” encore on September 15, 2014 in Montreal:

On October 15, 1986 at Hunt’s in their hometown of Burlington, Vermont Phish debuted their cover of the Hot Rats instrumental “Peaches En Regalia.” The song was in heavy rotation throughout the rest of the decade but was absent the early part of the 1990s and sporadically played through the band’s 2000 hiatus. “Peaches” was a no show during the band’s “2.0” era of 2002-2004 but was resurrected on Decemeber 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden. Though still a rarity, Phish covered the song twice this summer, most recently at MSG on July 22. Check out 2009 bust-out via Tyler Penn below:

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