Terry Bozzio & Punky Meadows

“I’m So Cute”

I was watching the Zappa Plays Zappa DVD and the special guest on the end of the first disc was Terry Bozzio. He looked a little stressed and unhappy to be there at that point in his life, re-living moments from his distant youth playing for Frank Zappa. Also notable was the amazing drum kit he had as he led the band through ‘I’m So Cute’ and ‘Tryin’ To Grow A Chin’ and the all-time gender-bender song, ‘Punky’s Whips’.

Anyway, that led me to check up on what Terry Bozzio’s been doing since the 70’s Zappa band and Missing Persons.

Here’s Terry Bozzio.

Like Hall of Fame drummer Gary Chester, Bozzio is noted for creating the melodic ostinato for the drum set.[citation needed] In most of Bozzio’s works, the ostinato is played using various bass drum and hi-hat permutations while he solos against these rhythms using his hands. Sometimes (often in the same composition) the opposite is true, where he will hold an ostinato pattern with his hands and solo with his feet. Like Chester, Bozzio developed the application for the melodic ostinato for drum set when he noticed how a pianist would solo or play counter rhythms against the ostinato or pedal point. He then applied this concept to the drum set.[citation needed]
Bozzio is also noted for creating orchestral compositions on the drum set by playing polyrhythms and metric modulations[citation needed] while utilizing his large custom kit (sometimes nicknamed “SS Bozzio”), in which the tom toms are tuned to specific notes to create the atmosphere that is Bozzio’s signature sound. Terry Bozzio’s influence has been seen in some of the most prominent drummers of today including Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Mike Mangini and Chris Utter.
Terry Bozzio currently endorses Drum Workshop drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and Attack drum heads, all of which have special custom lines designed for him. In fact, his cymbals were designed from the ground up by Bozzio himself, including a completely different kind of lathing method. Terry is known to use various white noise cymbal pairings, where he stacks multiple crashes and/or china cymbals to create atypical sounds. This idea may have arisen from Zappa’s abhorrence of loud cymbals, so to satisfy his boss, he cut large chunks out of his cymbals, which created a “swooshy”, and more trashy sound. This is seen in the Baby Snakes movie in prominence. The “SS Bozzio” is often just as amazing, to onlookers of his performances, as the drummer himself. His kit has evolved from a fairly standard large drum set, akin to that of Neil Peart, including various sound effects and the standard drum arrangements, to his current setup which includes more than 10 pedals to operate various percussion devices and dozens of drums to achieve his melodic drum parts.

This led me to a cool interview here and here. It’s chock-a-block full of interesting insights.

“Punky, Punky, Your Albums Are Shit! – I Promise Not To Cum In Your Mouth”

For years this part of the song has made me laugh. To confess, I’d never seen a photo of Punky Meadows, so I’d never really understood what the hell Frank was writing about – but the above line sort of sums it all up nicely for even the unfamiliar to have a guess.

Anyway, here’s the entry on Punky Meadows.

After Cherry People disbanded, Meadows and Mickie Jones formed Daddy Warbux, later Bux, which released one album.[2] Angel formed after the two met Gregg Giuffria and then Barry Brandt and Frank Dimino, choosing the name “Angel” after the song by Jimi Hendrix,[1] of whom Meadows was a fan.
Angel released studio albums from 1975 to 1979 and the live album Live Without a Net in 1980, and disbanded not long thereafter after not achieving mass critical or popular success. Meadows, however, both during his tenure with the band and thereafter was invited to join Kiss, Aerosmith, and the New York Dolls, all of which he turned down.[1]
The band possessed a strong glam image that was said to be the antithesis of Kiss’s,[2] while Meadows himself became the most strongly associated with the glam persona, so much so that Frank Zappa ridiculed his trademark pout and hair in the song “Punky’s Whips”. Meadows, however, was “flattered” and eventually ended up onstage during a Zappa concert in his Angel costume.[1]
While the band had (and still has) a number of fan sites, a fan of Meadows has a site devoted exclusively to him called the “Punky Meadows Shrine”.[3]

Whereupon we learn Punky is no longer in the music business. It sort of makes sense.

He seems like a pretty good sport about the song. The wikipedia page led me to this entry here.

One of those listeners was Frank Zappa, who went so far as to write a song about Meadows. “Punky’s Whips,” originally slated to appear on the 1978 album Zappa in New York, dismisses Angel as product (“In today’s rapidly changing world/Rock groups appear every 15 minutes/Utilizing some new promotional device,” the song begins. “Some of these devices have been known/To leave irreparable scars on the minds of foolish young consumers”) before delivering a slightly blunter verdict: “Punky, Punky, your album’s the shits!/It’s all wrong!”

To his credit, Meadows readily agreed to let Zappa record his mock tribute to the “pooched-out succulence of his insolent pouting rictus,” even if his less-than-flattered bandmates delayed the song’s release for several years. “I thought it was cool,” he says. “Frank is very satirical, so you can’t have a thin skin. I found it kind of flattering. Around the time he wrote the song, he was playing in L.A. He asked if I’d be willing to come onstage in my Angel costume and play with him on the song. I went to the concert, the curtain goes up, and there’s this giant publicity photograph of me doing this pucker kind of thing. It was like Dean Martin’s roast or something. Afterwards, Frank asked me to his place to drink some beer and play some tunes.”

Despite Zappa’s efforts–not to mention the rise of punk, grunge, and nu metal–Angel continues to be popular. All of its albums are in print. The band is even touring again, white outfits and all. But Meadows has consistently declined to rejoin the resurrected Angel, saying that “rock is for kids.” Besides, he says, just the thought of “a bunch of 50-year-olds in white spandex” is enough to make him shudder.

He seems like a really well-adjusted guy considering the ridicule associated with his stage name. He seems like he’s actually quite a decent dude. I wouldn’t mind picking up some albums by Angel just to see if he was really doing it all wrong. I think Frank might have been overstating his disdain.



Filed under Rock

16 responses to “Terry Bozzio & Punky Meadows

  1. Pingback: Punky meadows | Greenserviceguide

  2. Mongo

    No, Zappa was right. Angel really did suck. Punky was a crack-up, though.

  3. Angel couldn´t be Frank´s cup of tea, but I don´t think he´d care to write a song if they were total shit. It´s like his cameo on The Monkees movie, he says to Day Jones that their music was bad, but he should be ashamed to get linked to them if it was so.
    I like Angel, got all their albums, they got some highs and maybe more lows, but I still think they´re worth to have…

  4. Jimmy

    I’m an Angel fan and if u listen u will hear they were far from crap they really could play check out the drummer Barry Brandt very Bonham!!!!

  5. Fuzzy_Lugnutz

    Angel was/is crap! But Punky’s hair is so shiny, I’d like to bite his neck. Any time after the mid 70s was NOT a good time to be a rock musician, esp. if you were picked up & then marketed to ridiculousness. I was born in the wrong friggin’ era!

    • Parker Jackson

      Frank ridiculed Punky Meadows because of his pouty, glammy, and androgynous image. What was the name of that other 70s rock guitar player with a similar thing going on? Um…yeah…I remember…ALL OF THEM!!! Punky was actually a fantastic player with great feel and just the right balance of flash and melody. His band was hit and miss but he was an awesome player. In the right band, history would have a whole different view of this guy. Unfortunately he is remembered mostly because of one of Frank’s worst songs. I love Zappa but let’s be fair. Frank is the guy who brought us Terry Bozzio (insert any photo of his new wave years or re-god-damn-diculous drum set here), Warren Cuccurullo (who went on to gay porn…google that shit), Roy Estrada (who went on to be a convicted child molester), and Steve Vai, a man who has never taken a publicity photo less embarrassing than the one for which Punky was ridiculed. I’ll take Punky over any of these punks.

      • Dr. Howard

        Punky’s lips, punky’s lips!
        Oh! I love his hair while eatin’ dunk-y chips
        Yeah! I love his blink and his blank-blank-blank
        Why, maybe he’d like to yank my crank?
        Yank it punky!
        Yank it faster!
        Yank it harder!
        Yank it all nite long!
        Come on punky!
        Get funky!

        I regrettably saw Angel once.. they sucked ALOT
        but the point is most of you guys don’t get Zappa’s sarcasm or why he put his mind the many flavors of idiocy prevalent in society…
        Frank is still about 30 years ahead of his time
        and, the most abundant element in the universe continues
        to prevail: STUPIDITY

      • stan

        I’m not sure what you have against Bozzio or why you think Punky’s Whips is one of FZ’s worst songs although I’m trying to think of what songs I would put on the list of FZ’s worst songs. That would be a tough list to compile because even some of his worst songs have a catchy hook to them even if he was doing it in a mocking sort of way like “I can’t believe you think this song is any good!”

        You did inspire me to check out some Bozzio work from this century and he does have some pretty crazy drum sets, but he really does appear to use all those bits of percussion when he plays and he’s an incredible drummer.

        I had no idea Cuccurullo went on to do gay porn or even join Duran Duran to tell you the truth but it seems you’re right. He did do gay porn. I don’t really care but I did have to type his name into google followed by the word “porn” to confirm it which made me feel a bit dirty. (I wasn’t sure whether to believe you).

        And apparently Roy Estrada was convicted of child molestation. That’s bad, but I hardly see how FZ has anything to do with that or even had any idea he would do something like that so many years after Frank’s death.

        And you’re going to criticize Vai for a publicity photo and completely ignore his guitar playing? I’m not even sure which Vai photo you’re referring to.

        I’m not familiar with Angel other than what Punky’s Whips has told me and a few images I’ve seen, but it seems Punky personified the ’70s glam androgynous look and no, not every rock star in the ’70s was going for that look.

        I’m tempted to give Angel a listen just for my own education now but you’ve got me off on a tour of Bozzio’s post-Missing Persons career.

        And to think I ended up making this post all because I suddenly had the urge to listen to Punky’s Whips and it got me wondering if the actual Punky Meadows ever had anything to say about the song or FZ or Terry Bozzio.

        I’m pleased to see that he appears to have embraced the caricature of himself and he agrees with me that nobody wants to see a bunch of 50 year old men in spandex (except for maybe the fans of Cuccurullo’s pornos).

        And I just made the time to check out an old Angel video on the youtubes. The sound is pretty standard ’70s AOR stuff so it kind of surprises me that I don’t know of them from the days when I was growing up listening to the radio. Tower doesn’t seem to be a terrible song or anything. It’s actually okay but their looks? They were really pushing that glam thing.

        I’m trying to imagine what the Angel guys were thinking when they formed their band. I bet one of their girlfriends came up with the name and the idea that they should be as glam as they could.

        It’s like Angel was begging to be mocked. They looked like they were trying to make the cover of Tiger Beat and a cursory google search doesn’t turn up any evidence that they ever even managed that.

        “We keep getting cuter and more sweet
        but we can’t get our picture on the cover of the Tiger Beat!
        Tiger Beat….Tiger Beat”

        (with apologies to Dr. Hook)

  6. Gary kantor

    Wow didnt know he was asked to join aerosmith, musta been when perry left. Wonder why he said no ?

    • Punky loved to play, but hated the music business. So he quit the music business altogether to do other things. But just a few weeks ago, he released a solo album. His first recording in 35 years.

  7. I have read this post with great interest. I first heard the track Punky’s Whips a few years ago. I love Zappa, and Zappa Plays Zappa, who I have seen a couple of times in recent years. My opinion on what Frank was actually alluding to with this song has been influenced by previous members’ posts. The track was definitive Zappa, where you love it but feel a little embarrassed to love it because it is clearly critical of someone, and not just a movement. I had not heard of Punky Meadows until this song, so didn’t really know where to put myself when I listened to it.

    Anyway, in summation, FZ is not being malicious to Punky because by immortalising him on one of his records many people now know about Punky Meadows. Like the other post said, would Zappa have bothered at all if Meadows was complete crap? I think the key is the line where Punky is ‘more fluid than Jeff Beck’. This is clearly something that a music critic wrote and the double entendre is so very funny; it makes me laugh, still, in my off time. Zappa deflected off Punky’s overt persona to stab at the music critic, which I am sure is fair. One more thing, the British Parliament has people called ‘Whips’ who encourage Members of Parliament to vote along the Party line… Punky Meadows (PM) = Prime Minister… Punky’s Whips are the critics of the time. Btw I am listening to Cherry People on Spotify atm and for a first listening it is whaky good: not so bad 🙂 )

  8. carlos hermosilla ramos


  9. Angellic Chuck

    I saw Angel live with LA Jets and Nectar and they kicked ass. We snuck backstage and met the Angel-boys in person. Punky let my friend play his 1961 Strat. They don’t get any nicer than that.

  10. Angellic Chuck

    Oh and when I saw Zappa live that same year he played only one song, “Penguin in Bondage” and then left after less than 1 hour playing. Ticket prices were twice as much as any show we had ever gone to before.

  11. To be fair, Warren didn’t just do gay porn, I believe he also did some straight porn. If you check out the pics, you’ll probably be able figure out why he got into that business.

    And when Terry sings, “I heard a rumor he’s more fluid than Jeff Beck”, he doesn’t mean “his guitar playing is more fluid”. He mean’s, “he HAS MORE FLUID than Jeff Beck”. In the unedited version of Titties and Beer, Frank says to Terry, “ever since that guy told you that he contained more fluid than Jeff Beck you’ve been tryin’ to outdo him”.

  12. Punky is rightly flattered, anything else would be sad and I say thank you to Punky for being a good sport and more so for giving the incomparable Frank Zappa a little inspiration, if it wasn’t you it would’ve been someone else Mr Meadows. To the guy or people taking about Zappa’s ‘worst song’, met you type before, it’s all pearls before swine as far as you are concerned, go back to listening to whatever shite it is that floats your rotten leaky boat, or just die already.

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