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Thread: Arthur Barrow's book (Zappa related)

  1. #1

    Arthur Barrow's book (Zappa related)

    Dunno if this has been discussed here, but a couple years ago, former Zappa bassist/clonemeister Arthur Barrow wrote his and published his memoirs. It's called Of Course I Said Yes (if you read the book, you'll understand very quickly why that's the title...think of it as sort of a refrain).

    I'd like to say that I put off buying the book because I knew that I'd eventually get a chance to buy the book directly from Arthur himself, but the truth is I just procrastinated. Fortunately, Arthur came to town last night with a Zappa tribute called Furious Bongos (very good band, btw, if you get a chance to see them), and I was able to hand over my 15 bucks and get it autographed all within minutes of each other. Also got to talk Arthur a bit before and after the show.

    He spends a fair amount of time talking about playing with Frank. There's lots of stories about how he got the gig with Frank, he talks about being on the road, dealing with the "Mean Girls" of the band, some craziness that happened here and there. He reveals the origins of several songs, also what exactly the "Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression" is and who came up with that title. He also talks about his job as "clonemeister" for several tours, meaning he led rehearsals when Frank wasn't around. He's got a great line about drilling the 1980 band (the first one that Steve Vai played in), and how he threatened to make a tape loop that of himself saying "Turn down, Steve!" that would play every five minutes, because Vai kept turning his amp up too loud.

    But he also talks about working with other people. He talks about the bands he was in before he worked with Frank. He talks about his days in the 80's playing sessions as a keyboardist (he says he bought an expensive Roland Jupiter-8 in the early 80's, which quickly paid for itself as he got a lot of session work with it). He talks about working with Giorgio Moroder. Remember the band Berlin? Did you know that's Arthur playing keyboards on the three songs Moroder produced for them? Terri Nunn is essentially the only actual member of Berlin on any of those three songs, and on You Take My Breath Away, the entire song is her, Arthur, and a drum machine. He talks a bit about working with Robby Krieger and son.

    I haven't actually finished the book, I've only read a bit of it, just sort of playing I Ching with it, and opening to random sections and reading stuff. But it seems like a very good book for anyone who likes hearing the kind of stuff he tells in the book. There's not much of the scandalous sleazy stuff in the book (though he does allude to the "something disgusting" that happened to Steve Vai, which Steve then "made the mistake of telling Frank about" which inspired...well, if you know Frank's 80's era music, you should know which song I'm talking aobut).

    In short, without hesitation, I totally recommend this book to anyone who's into Zappa, or just wants to read about a journeyman musician and all the work he's done throughout the years.
    Last edited by GuitarGeek; 1 Week Ago at 01:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    . It's called Of Course I Said Yes
    Chris, this is PE. Here, we all say YES.
    "If you want to see the true nature of humanity, just look at the internet."

    http://www.discogs.com/user/moecurlythanu/collection

  3. #3
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    Hello Mr. GuitarGeek. I was at the show, too. Perhaps we sat at the same table?

  4. #4
    Member FrippWire's Avatar
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    I bought Arthur's book about a year ago at the same time I bought Bob Zappa's first book and read it in a couple of days. It's a fascinating and easy read. Arthur seems like a really down-to-earth guy who is obviously supremely talented. He clearly deserve all the riches and accolades that may come with it. I also recommend this book to any and all Zappa obsessives (like me).

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by zappaeverafter View Post
    Hello Mr. GuitarGeek. I was at the show, too. Perhaps we sat at the same table?
    I was wearing a Uriah Heep t-shirt, Spinal Tap hoodie, and a Magma necklace. For what it's worth, a couple people took note of the Heep shirt and the Magma necklace. I can't leave the house without people acknowledging my satorial choices. I spent most of the night sitting in the little booth area near the entrance with my friends Terri and Steve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I was wearing a Uriah Heep t-shirt, Spinal Tap hoodie, and a Magma necklace. For what it's worth, a couple people took note of the Heep shirt and the Magma necklace. I can't leave the house without people acknowledging my satorial choices. I spent most of the night sitting in the little booth area near the entrance with my friends Terri and Steve.
    I was at the other end. I would certainly have noticed your attire and accouterments which I did not see. However, have seen many of your postings and comments. Perhaps we'll bump elbows and chat at some show in the future.

    Cheers!
    Larry

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by zappaeverafter View Post
    I was at the other end. I would certainly have noticed your attire and accouterments which I did not see. However, have seen many of your postings and comments. Perhaps we'll bump elbows and chat at some show in the future.

    Cheers!
    Larry
    Sorry we didn't bump into each other the other night, but yeah, maybe it'll happen at the next show. I'm pretty easy to spot. I'm easy to spot, look for the brown haired (turning grey) guy in the silver shoes, and the "inappropriate" band t-shirt (or when it's a little chilly, the Shark Sandwich hoodie).

  8. #8
    I got Arthur's book a year or two ago. It's low key (mostly "I did a session with.." followed by "Next I worked on an album for.." followed by "Then I went on a short tour with..") but an honest story of being a musician in the 70's and 80's before the not-so-good times arrived in the 90's.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I got Arthur's book a year or two ago. It's low key (mostly "I did a session with.." followed by "Next I worked on an album for.." followed by "Then I went on a short tour with..") but an honest story of being a musician in the 70's and 80's before the not-so-good times arrived in the 90's.
    One thing I found interesting is when he talks about all the records he worked on that never got released, because there was a shake up in the A&R department of the given label, and the guy who signed a given band got sacked and his replacement would give the band the thumb's down. I think he specifically names four different records where that happened (and I'm sure it happened to a lot of other people too).

    It's when you hear those stories (and other similar ones I've heard from other places) that one realizes maybe one was better off being a purely amateur musician. To have something like that happen to you, i.e. getting signed to a major label and then getting dropped before your first record even can be released, has to be heartbreaking, to say nothing of all the other crap one has to go through makes me glad I never had a chance to be a part of that world.

  10. #10
    A few years back I read a memoir by the drummer from Semisonic ("Closing Time") and it has a lot of stories of similar stories of 90's craziness with A&R people being fired and replaced by new ones who in a short time would also be fired.

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