marque 'marqueson' coy


Reprinted from "Zappa!", published in '92 by Keyboard and Guitar Player magazines:

Marque Coy- Patron Saint at Joe's Garage

"Reserved for Daisy Duck's Receptionist," the parking sign says, but it's really for the "God of Monitoring," Marque Coy, a.k.a. "Marqueson." Zappa's longest-tenured employee, Coy has been at the monitor board for Zappa's stage shows since 1981 and otherwise sitting in the head office of the premier rehearsal facility in the Los Angeles areaJoe's Garage. He named it, too.

        It was in the middle of the '88 tour that Gail Zappa decided to open such a place. To run it, Frank suggested Marqueson; to house it, the ugly warehouse where for 15 years they had stored his equipment, Zappa rehearsed his bands, and finally, where Barfko-Swill was born.  With metal beams and bare concrete, it wasn't the most glamorous joint on Earth. Even now, renovated, it looks no better (or worse) from the outside than the other enterprises in an industrial section of the San Fernando Valley protected by a floppy chain-link fence and surrounded by the likes of carburetor repair specialists and vacant lots.

        "The Zappas didn't know what they were going to call it," Coy recounts. "I said, 'Well, you own the name.' They said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'The line in the song goes: "You can jam at Joe's Garage. . . ." Let's call it "Joe's Garage."' And we did."

        So why is Coy called Marqueson? "There was one guy in the band named Mark Man, so they nicknamed me Marqueson," Coy explains. "I actually enjoy that, because if anybody who knows me wants my attention, they'll call me Marqueson, since I've been on several crews where there've been lots of Marks."

        And where's he from, and what's his background? Colorado and music. Born in Denver, raised in Brighton, played piano at seven, became a state-certified music teacher at 13, was further educated in Grand Junction, and ended up as vice president of student services booking entertainment in college, of most future significance a band called Helix {which contained several future Zappa folks, including George Douglas). "My sense of meter is about the only carry-over musical skill that matters in working with Frank," Marqueson says. "I have a good sense of now." 

        Coy had always been fascinated with sound. "I went to my guidance counsellor for help," Marqueson recalls. "I told him, 'I know there's some guy that assembles all the music on these records; there's one guy that sits there and puts it all together and makes the collage work That's what I want to do.' He said, 'Take computer science.' I took two-and-a-half years and never got my hands on a computer. The guy was clueless. I said, 'Phooey on this,' and switched to pre-law, except I ran out of money for law school. On a fluke, I asked Helix if they needed a roadie. They did- me. Goodbye."

        Helix got signed and renamed Boulder. They settled in Los Angeles, made enough money to live on but not to be heard of, and eventually turned into Warren Zevon's backup band. Coy went to Elektra Asylum as a staff engineer from 1978-1980, then off to tour with Chris De Burgh {where he worked with Harry Andronis}, then back to Elektra, and then the phone rang.

        "I pick it up," he recalls. "A voice says, 'I understand you're a monitor engineer.' 'Well, I'm a recording engineer,' I said, 'but I know how to do monitors.' The guy says, 'Well, my production manager will call you within the hour- you're hired.' I said, 'Who is this?' He said, 'Frank Zappa.' I said, 'Oh . . .okay....' I've been with him ever since."

        According to Coy, life on the road with Zappa is always difficult and always enjoyable. The hard parts involve things like close encounters with electricity and flying concrete. Some are no big deal, just embarrassing. Like in one show, when a bad power outlet caused all of the stage monitors to go outbut, shucks, the show was about to end anyway.

        More frightening was an unbooked thundershower in Mannheim, Germany, which roared in and dumped a quarter-inch of water in the bottom of Marqueson's console before the crew could throw plastic covering over the equipment. "The rain had not gotten up to the edge of the ribbon connectors," Coy recalls, "so I took all the modules out, got a hair dryer and a pencil eraser, cleaned all the tips, and mopped the water out with towels."

        He reprieved himself from electrocution once, too. "It was on the first tour," he says with a grin. "I was disconnecting the recording truck snakes and happened to have my arm around a lighting truss, and all of a sudden I got a real good jolt. I was stuck between the recording truck and the lighting system. I finally made myself relax, and I was able to pull free. I never did like to do anything with power. I let the electricians do that now."

        Riots in Europe seemed to be in vogue during the early 1980s. Coy survived minor scuffles and trash throwing in Kiel, Geneva, and Barcelona. However, a more major assault occurred in Palermo, on the last show of the '82 tour. "The kids starting fighting with the police," he recalls. "The bleachers were getting tom apart, and huge bon fires were being set. For a while we kept playing, but we couldn't sing, because tear gas started floating all about. Finally, when chunks of concrete started flying, we just cleared out." The cover of The Man From Utopia gives you the idea.

         Good memories predominate. "Every time I've gone anywhere with Frank, it's been a yuck a minute, a chuckle a minute," Marqueson smiles. "There's always something new to laugh about. Some of the situations occur right in front of you, and some of them he'll have seen in a newspaper, and that becomes the joke, and off it runs, and then it expands, and away it goes, and you're just sitting there laughing."

        What happens when everyone gets to the venue? "I have a little talk with the musicians," Marqueson explains. "I tell them they can have anything they want, unless it starts to become a problem with the others surrounding them. Ultimately, if something annoys Frank, Frank's the boss. He's hard to work with, but he gives you the tools. He asks an awful lot, but he makes it easy, so you con accomplish what he wants. He's great. Very articulate, tells you what he wants, and you provide it, or there'll be someone else there who can and will. But we do have little struggles sometimes between the musicians. One tour, the house engineer did nothing but complain about the saxophone. No wonder. Out at the mix position, which is more than 100 feet away from the stage, it registered 110 db just from the monitors alone!"

        After these little chats, Coy gets serious about sound "You start nailing things down," he states. "I've got something wrong in this specific area or with these specific frequencies out of this wedge. You find your weak points, and once the show starts, when you're starting to have a problem, you go straight to those areas, instead of standing there guessing what it could be. You should know. All the time, I'm punching up different things, constantly listening to all mixes, all mics. You go through your inputs quickly, and if you start hearing something, it's just a matter of knowing what to do with any noise and how to get rid of the extraneous stuff."

        Rattling off tour equipment is not especially revealing. Zappa had his own specific wedges, which Marqueson retuned in '88, because he wanted to get some better low end out of them for Frank.  Everybody else had Tycobrahe cabinets. As to microphones- the first input and therefore the most important thing happening- every application had its own, and every application could change. Zappa always brings piles of mikes for performances: ElectroVoice, AKG, Shure 57s, Neumann, take your pick.

        On the '88 Broadway the Hard Way tour, for monitors Marqueson used a Soundcraft board with 40 inputs and 16 mixes, but a lot of those were double from something like 32 cabinets. The crew was a production manager, numerous roadies, and three sound people: Coy on monitor, Harry Andronis as house engineer, and Bob Stone as engineer in the recording truck (In years before, Stone had worked in the house.)

        "In '88, we all got all the audio-signal information at the same time - from the truck" Marqueson states. "I lived on a splitter, custom-made for Frank All the mics came into it. No one was making one like that thing. It was 118 inputs by three. I think there were only 97 [signals available to all three, but 118 went to the truck. The house got one feed, the record truck got another, and I got the third."

        During performance, communication from Frank with his musicians was, predictably, by hand signals. Nothing special. He telegraphed key changes by making letters with his fingers. He raised and lowered his hand to indicate changes in amplitude. Screwing the head in a sort of a dreadlock gesture meant do reggae or ska.

There's no better time to job-hunt than when you have a good job. During lulls following the end of tours, Marqueson worked with other groups. "Nine times out of ten, they're so critical about resumes and checking out sources," he says. "With me, when I would tell them how long I'd worked with Frank Zappa, there were no more questions, and I would double my money."

        Those freelance jobs (though not the offers) pretty much ended when the doors of Joe's Garage opened in February 1989. Marqueson and Dave Dondorf built the sound systems and Gail designed the facility. Three main rooms: Act I, Act II, and Act III. All double doors. Act III houses a 24-track studio tie-lined, with audio and video, to the main rehearsal rooms (Act I the larger, and Act II the smaller) for monitoring, mixing, and feasibly to even record a live album. Stages were put in Act I and Act II. "A lot of places just have level floors, but to me that's where garage bands rehearse," Coy states. "There's a different attitude when a person steps on a stage. You get on that thing, and it's time to go to work. Anyway, I went after a very specific client- the higher end."

        He got them, too, at $30-$50 per hour, $300-$500 per day for lockouts: Yazawa, Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Carole King, Air Supply, Jefferson Airplane, Stray Cats, Tom Petty, not to mention countless acts needing to showcase their performance in front of record executives. That's why the video cameras were installed-for bands to see how they appeared, to give them a chance to correct their look to present an image for mom and dad to watch on the TV in the entryway {so they wouldn't have to listen in the performance rooms at the high volumes the record execs endured). Asphalt Ballet and Wild Side, among others, have been signed as a result of their showcases at Joe's Garage.

        And what's the schedule? "I'm in at 10 A.M., and I'm here till midnight," Marqueson states. "I'm fist in, last out. And we have simple rules. If I think people have problems with drugs or behaviour, I'm not available for their business. There's rarely a problem, though. Musicians love Frank. All of them who come in here are all in awe just looking around at everything."

        There's a lot that's fun to look at. A huge wall with autographs and graffiti. Road mementos, such as the "Daisy Duck" sign, that serve as decorations revealing the Zappa love of the bizarre and humorous: a sign in German that translates: "Driving in the wrong direction is forbidden"; an autographed photo of Sammy Davis, Jr.; pillows cased by tour T-shirts; an Osmond Brothers poster; an old "Phi Krappa Zappa" poster viewable from the toilet.

        Marqueson seems genuinely unclear about what Frank likes about his work. The only thing he can figure is that "I've got good ears, lots of patience, confidence. I'm diligent and will work 'til the job's done, and I do what I'm supposed to do correctly. I love what I know. I just try to stay on top of things, and really listen. Murphy lives and rules with an iron fist, and you never know when he's going to come and visit you."

random notes

    from: Bob Wyman
    January 2005

I knew Marqueson when we were 15 years old and he went by Greg. He took me to see Hendrix in '69 (last show with EXP). I never thought Greg would amount to much let alone working for Frank! I should have stayed in touch! Marque was a crazy kid and his folks saw fit to separate the two of us long ago. When I bought the CD "Them or Us" I wondered who Marqueson was, little did I know it was Greg Coy, my partner in crime, at one time....

-- Bob Wyman


Bob Wyman is a songwriter and has a fabulous looking website
& be sure to check out a couple of his songs.




 c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m 
 n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z
soundtracks various artists