ralph morris

Ralph Morris worked with Frank Zappa as a sound engineer during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including "the grand wazoo," which performed in London, Berlin and The Hague.

Ralph Morris:
" I was a recording engineer/producer in Hollywood during the early 1960s, and I first saw Frank Zappa when he appeared on The Steve Allen Show.  I believe it was 1963 or '64.  Frank played bicycle spokes, which he had color-coded according to their tuning (?).  The bicycle was placed upside down, resting on the seat and handlebars. Frank would spin the wheel and strike the spokes with mallets while the wheel was turning!  Steve Allen was blown away.  I didn't meet Frank until some time later, but that first impression is still very vivid in my mind.

In 1967 or '68 I built an amplifier/speaker system for the keyboards, and continued as a technical consultant.  Frank liked a clean sound, as opposed to lesser musicians who didn't mind some distortion to cover up any mistakes.  At that time I was also managing and recording a band called "The Sound Machine," which evolved into "The Truth." The Sound Machine played at the first "Love-in" in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, in '66 or '67. At that time some of us would hang out at "Carl Franzoni's" log cabin in Laurel Canyon, where the Mothers rehearsed.

In 1970 I joined Tycobrahe Sound Company as Director of Marketing, and one of the first groups that we built a concert sound system for was The Mothers of Invention.  We built additional custom instrument amplifiers for Frank as well as the P.A. system, and provided technicians to maintain the equipment on tours.

I didn't go on tours as much in the later 1970s, and the last tour that I went on with The Mothers was The Grand Wazoo, in 1972.

I'm sorry that I don't have any colorful stories to share.  My relationship with Frank was strictly professional, and he was not inclined to hang out with the musicians or crew. When there were colorful members in the band, like Flo and Eddie, we were careful to maintain some professional decorum whenever Frank was present.  He was always very serious, but he had a sense of humor that he would share occasionally, if he liked you.



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