“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. 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.
Bozzio is also noted for creating orchestral compositions on the drum set by playing polyrhythms and metric modulations 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.
“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. 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, 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.
The band possessed a strong glam image that was said to be the antithesis of Kiss’s, 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.
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”.
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.